Government to ‘fully consider’ report on public housing investment

The report calls for the state to double investment in public housing.
Government to ‘fully consider’ report on public housing investment

By Cate McCurry, PA

The Government will fully consider a report which states that Ireland should borrow more to invest in housing to address the ongoing crisis, according to the Tánaiste.

Analysis by the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) shows that the state needs to double its investment on housing to €4 billion.

The ESRI said this would deliver an additional 18,000 housing units a year.

Leo Varadkar said he would look at the report and give it full consideration.

The report, published on Thursday, calls for the Government to double public investment in public housing.

Sinn Féin’s housing spokesman Eoin Ó Broin said his party has previously called for double capital expenditure on public housing.

He said that the Government must embark on the largest programme of investment in public housing in the history of the state.

“This is the scale of what is required to tackle the crisis we are in,” he added.

Mr Ó Broin said that Fianna Fáil voted for a 2018 Dáil motion from the Raise the Roof campaign.

The motion also called for a doubling of capital investment in Budget 2019 and the delivery of 20,000 social and affordable homes that year.

“Of course, Fianna Fáil has done what it does best and abandoned that commitment,” Mr Ó Broin added.

“There was no meaningful additional capital spend in the Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien’s first budget above the commitments already entered into by his predecessor, Eoghan Murphy.

“There is only €160 million extra in capital spend for this year; €124 million to deliver an additional 593 social homes and a paltry €35 million to deliver just over 400 affordable cost-rental homes.

“I said at the time and will do so again: that budget was underwhelming, unclear and wholly inadequate.”

He also accused the Tánaiste and Fine Gael of failing to build a single affordable home to rent or buy through a central Government scheme.

“After 10 years of failure by the Tánaiste personally, as well as by his party, will he, on foot of this recommendation from the ESRI, give a guarantee that Budget 2022 will include a doubling of direct capital investment by the state into the delivery of affordable homes for working people?

“This is what the ESRI is urging the Government to do today.”

Mr Varadkar said that while he has not read the report, he saw the headlines.

“As I understand it, the ESRI proposes a big increase in capital spending on social and public housing and that we would set a target of about 18,000 per year,” Mr Varadkar added.

“It would not be easy to get to that overnight but it might well be a good target to aim for over the course of this Government.

“However, I have not seen what breakdown the ESRI proposes.

“Deputy Ó Broin used the term public housing but as he knows, public housing is much broader than social housing.

“If that includes public housing, if that includes cost-rental, if it includes affordable for-purchase housing then that may well be doable.

“18,000 may well be the right figure and may well be where we get to. If it is 18,000 social houses alone then that is a different question.

“That would be all on-balance sheet borrowing, it would not be recoverable and would be much harder to do.

“We will take a look at the report, we will give it full consideration.”

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