October 1, 2015
Just what is the Government up to in relation to its housing strategy? Is history repeating itself?
Latest reports suggest that Minister Alan Kelly is now proposing to subsidise builders to keep the price of new homes down. How more Fianna Fáil can you get?
With every proposal being floated by Ministers, it seems that the Government’s strategy has turned into a charter for developers.
In the short term we need initiatives to release the substantial amount of unused and under-used housing that we have throughout the country. These initiatives could include bringing back the Financial Contribution Scheme for Older People, incentives and penalties to release unoccupied accommodation over shops and commercial premises, and reforms of the Fair Deal Scheme to make it easier and more attractive for older people to sell their property if they have moved permanently into a nursing home. These kind of fiscal measures could bring additional housing on stream very quickly.
In the medium term we need to start building sustainable social and affordable housing in appropriately mixed communities. The capacity of local authorities to deliver social housing in this manner has been seriously depleted because of a lack of financing and Government policy which appears to hand over responsibility for social housing to the private sector. Central Government needs to take responsibility for a major public housing programme and agree to fund and equip Local Government so that these homes can be delivered.