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Government's Budget plans won't do enough to solve housing crisis, expert warns

The government announced it would support the delivery of over 11,000 new social homes next year.

A social housing project in Dublin (file photo)
A social housing project in Dublin (file photo)
Image: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie

THE GOVERNMENT’S PLAN to spend €1.1 billion on social housing as part of Budget 2020 is unfocused and won’t do enough to solve the crisis in Ireland’s housing, an expert has warned. 

Announcing next year’s budget yesterday, Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe unveiled capital funding to “support the delivery” of over 11,000 new social homes in 2020.

Opposition TDs immediately criticised the measure, with Sinn Féin’s housing spokesman Eoin Ó Broin saying the measures meant that just 8,500 “real social homes” would be delivered.

Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy subsequently said that 7,736 homes would be built next year, with a further 800 acquired and 2,631 leased in the long-term.

But housing expert Professor PJ Drudy of Trinity College Dublin warned that Ireland was not likely to see the delivery of any housing for the long-term as part of the Budget, and pointed to the government’s continued over-reliance on the private rental sector to meet demand.

“Not a single long-term home will be gained by the state,” he told TheJournal.ie.

“New builds, which are so desperately required, will be quite small.”

“Even if the entire €1.1 billion were spent on new build social housing, it would build about 5,000 homes at most.”

Drudy also called on the Government to take a more serious role in relation to housing, and said that the government needed to build 11,000 new social housing units and a similar number of ‘affordable’ homes per year to meet supply.

“€1.1 billion will not ‘build’ 11,000 homes,” he added. “I suspect that the Government is again putting much of this money into the private rental sector, where extortionate rents are charged.”

Commenting today, Murphy said that the 7,500 homes which the government aimed to build next year would be “more than we’ve done in the last 20 years”.

“Certainly what we’ll do next year will directly build more social activities that we have in the last 20 years, which I think is very, very important,” he said.

“Building is very important because it’d be increasing the actual supply. But we should also ignore the fact that there are vacant homes and other homes that we brought into stock as well.

“So increasing the stock by 10,000 homes this year, I think, is very important because the figure that people have been going for for a number of years, we’re going to hit it this year, we’ll surpass it next year again, and we’ll go even higher the next year.”

The minister also claimed that a quarter of homes being built in Ireland were social housing units, which were needed to tackle the number of people on local authorities’ housing lists

“We do have people waiting on the housing list, we do have people in emergency accommodation, and we have a responsibility to look after those who are most vulnerable in our society,” he added.

With reporting from Christina Finn.

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