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Leo Varadkar says he isn't ashamed of his government's housing record

The Taoiseach said Fianna Fáil should be ‘embarrassed’ to discuss their housing policies.

Image: Niall Carson

TAOISEACH LEO VARADKAR has said he isn’t ashamed of his government’s record when it comes to housing. 

Instead, the Taoiseach states that “rather than ashamed, I’m encouraged by some of the progress that has been made in the last couple of years”. 

The number of new homes being built has trebled since Fine Gael entered power in 2011, he said – adding that 10,000 homes would be added to the to social housing stock this year.

TheJournal.ie recently investigated just how many homes are actually coming into the market through Rebuilding Ireland, as well as how many of these are new homes, as opposed to tenancies secured through the private rental market. 

Concerns have been raised about the language being used by those in government when they talk about the ‘delivery’ of 64,000 new homes in three years.

When the government says that it has ‘delivered’ a home, it means that one unit of housing has become available for an individual or family to live in.

But every ‘delivery’ does not necessarily mean a new house or apartment has been built; deliveries can also come from the private rental market.

If a local authority builds a house, that counts as one ‘delivery’, as it does if a house is leased from a private developer.

But every time a tenant rents a house from a private landlord using the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP), that also counts as one ‘delivery’ – at least according to the figures cited by Rebuilding Ireland, the government’s five-year housing action plan.

“The truth is pretty much every party has held the housing brief over the last 20 years, Labour, Fianna Fáil, the Greens and a lot of the flaws in our housing system are mistakes of all of us,” Varadkar said. 

He said previous governments allowed for a “boom/bust, boom/bust, boom/bust” situation to emerge, where 90,000 houses were built one year and then “none built for seven years and then you try and rebuild it all again”.

“What I want to do is make sure that we get it right this time, that we increase housing supply aggressively every year until it gets to the sustainable level of about 40,000.”

“We don’t want any more of these boom/bust policies,” he said, hitting out at Fianna Fáil and other parties for “just throwing out housing policies”. 

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