Minister: ‘Wholly incorrect’ that rent subsidies are cash bonus for landlords

Labour leader Ivana Bacik had criticised the amount of money spent on private-sector provision of housing
Minister: ‘Wholly incorrect’ that rent subsidies are cash bonus for landlords

By Gráinne Ní Aodha, PA

The Minister for Housing has said it is “wholly incorrect”‘ to say that rent subsidies are “cash bonus for landlords”.

Labour leader Ivana Bacik said that the initiatives announced by government have failed to deliver and that Housing for All’s “promises and its aspirations jar with the reality” faced by the public.

She criticised the minister for spending “so much money subsidising private-sector provision” instead of building public housing on public land.

“We know that the state funnels close to a billion euro into the pockets of private landlords each year through the Housing Assistance Payment and other rent subsidy schemes,” she told the Dáil.

“We’ve seen seven years of strong economic growth wasted, where we should have seen investment in housing provision and the problem has got worse.”

Labour is to introduce a motion in the Dáil on Thursday suggesting extending the eviction ban to the end of the year, an emergency public house building programme, and strengthening the tenant in-situ scheme.

Taking Leaders’ Questions on Thursday, Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien said “we are not reliant on the private sector”.

“You’re talking about a billion euro being funnelled into the pockets of private landlords,” Mr O’Brien said.

“That is actually a billion euro that supports 60,000 tenancies, real families and housing assistance payments, and people who continue to make that charge that it is a subsidy or a cash bonus for private landlords, it’s wholly incorrect.

“We’ve seen over the last three years a reduction in the increase… and we’re seeing people transfer out of HAP,” adding that an increase in public and affordable homes would achieve this.

“We will deliver more new social homes, new built social homes in 2022 than we’ve done in 50 years, since 1975.

“Those those figures will be published very shortly.”

“If you look at the the measures that we have taken, they are taking hold, it’s only one year Housing for All has been in place,” he said.

Ms Bacik responded that she accepts that €900 million in rent subsidies is “essential” to keep families and households out of homelessness.

“But it illustrates the short sighted nature of government housing policy over the last seven years that we’re not seeing that level of financing and investment instead in the provision of public housing on public land housing.”

Mr O’Brien said that €4.5 billion had been invested in housing in 2023, which would aim to deliver more than the 29,000 housing target set for this year.

“I would compare that to the last time we had a Labour Housing Minister in 2015, it was 400 million invested in housing.”

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