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Housing failures exacerbating generational divides and class inequalities

26 April 2023

  • Taoiseach fails to answer if political pressure was applied to RTB in advance
  • Can’t keep throwing good money after bad

Labour leader and housing spokesperson Ivana Bacik has accused Government of presiding over a failed housing policy, scrambling to think of new ways to tweak measures without having any real impact on addressing the chronic shortage of housing in the face of a housing disaster of epic proportions.

Deputy Bacik said that today’s Government announcement of another package of tweaked measures amounts to a tacit acceptance that Housing for All is failing and that this Government is out of its depth, lacking evidence, lacking urgency, and lacking impact on the housing disaster.

Under questioning from Deputy Bacik in the Dáil, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar failed to answer if his Government had applied pressure to the RTB in the advance of the lifting of the eviction ban.

Deputy Bacik said:

“Today’s announcement is the latest in a series of desperate efforts to kick some life into Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil’s failing housing policy. Despite ample press conferences and media launches, nothing changes for people who are in housing distress, searching for a home, or those trapped in a rental market and locked out of having any aspiration towards home ownership. Indeed, since the indefensible lifting of the eviction ban, many more people affected by the housing crisis are facing the awful prospect of homelessness.

“Among the proposals launched today is a temporary waiver of development contributions – in effect, yet another subsidy for developers. It would appear that Minister O’Brien’s approach to policy is characterised by an absence of evidence. An overreliance on the private sector has already contributed to stagnation in the construction of social and affordable homes. Yet, this Government’s solution involves more unconditional subsidies to developers.

“Also included in today’s package are grants intended to tackle vacancy and dereliction and we are hopeful that these measures will be more impactful than the last plans this Government produced in January- plans which had no targets at all.

“While grants are a useful policy tool, the State should be using Councils to CPO vacant and derelict homes, to ensure their speedy renovation. Grants again ultimately benefit the developers and the construction industry – not hard working people who are trying to get a home. What evidence is underpinning this Government’s policy approach to housing?

“The apparent lack of evidence was reflected in the decision to lift the eviction ban last month – and under questioning from Labour in the Dáil today the Taoiseach has still failed to answer if political pressure was put on the RTB to withhold the publication of data in order to save the Government’s skin on a motion of no confidence. It seems that this Government is averse to evidence-based decision making when it doesn’t suit its agenda.

“What we in Labour want to know is how much time is being spent scrambling to repackage old ideas, as opposed to actually delivering on housing? While the Government arranges another press conference, the housing disaster is exacerbating generational divides, exacerbating class inequalities, stifling jobs growth, adversely affecting health outcomes, our education system. The OECD is now reporting that our standards of living are actually falling. Housing is at the crux of this.”