Sinn Féin accuses Government of ‘dithering’ on housing crisis

Eoin Ó Broin spoke following the publication of two reports on the sector earlier this week

Sinn Féin housing spokesman Eoin Ó Broin. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Sinn Féin housing spokesman Eoin Ó Broin. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

 

The Government has been accused of “dithering” on the housing crisis by Sinn Féin housing spokesman Eoin Ó Broin following the publication of two reports this week which showed the supply of new homes continues to fall well below demand.

A report by property industry group Irish Institutional Property (IIP) suggested the State will need to build almost 50,000 homes a year for the next 30 years “if its housing stock is to reflect the country’s demographics”.

The figure is significantly higher than the Government’s 35,000 housing output target and more than double the current level of supply, which was 21,000 last year.

The report comes on the back of Daft.ie’s latest report on the rental sector, which suggest rents are now rising at an annual rate of 5.6 per cent, the strongest level of growth seen in over two years. Daft said the pick-up in rent inflation reflected an “unprecedented scarcity” of available properties, noting there were just 2,455 homes available to rent on its website as of August 1st last, the lowest number since its quarterly series began in 2006.

Separate figures from the Central Statistics Office (CSO), meanwhile, showed house price growth accelerated to 6.9 per cent in June, the fastest level of growth seen in 2½ years.

Mr Ó Broin said the Government “needs to get a handle” on both the supply and affordability challenges facing households.

“The housing crisis is getting worse and Covid-19 and its impact has placed increased pressure on both the rental and home-buying market,” he said. “This impact is particularly strong outside the commuter belt and in our provincial towns and villages.

“The Daft.ie rental report published earlier this week highlights how counties such as Sligo and Kerry are facing double digit rent rises, which is coupled with an increasing lack of supply.

“The CSO House Price report published yesterday showed that house prices have increased by 6.9 per cent annually across the State. Prices are rising more rapidly outside Dublin, with prices 7.4 per cent higher.

“In the Border counties the rises are in double digits, with prices increasing by an enormous 13.9 per cent.”

Mr Ó Broin said the Government “must intervene to pump prime the recovery of the residential construction sector”.

“We need both supply and affordability,” he said. “The best way to achieve this is through a major increase in the direct delivery of public homes on public land to meet social and affordable housing need.

“Government must double capital investment in social and affordable housing in Budget 2022. It is not just Sinn Féin saying this. The ESRI, the NTMA and others have called for the Government to increase capital spend in public housing.

“We need to deliver at least 20,000 public homes per year. A mix of social, cost rental and affordable purchase. Sinn Féin has demonstrated how this can be done.

“[Housing minister] Darragh O’Brien has been in office for more than a year and we still have no plan. He is wasting valuable time that renters and prospective home buyers simply do not have,” he said.

“The scale of this crisis is such that the dithering we have witnessed from the government cannot go on. We need to see a fully funded plan with ambitious targets that will both offer hope and that will have a real positive impact for affordable supply,” Mr Ó Broin said.