Expensive housing, long commutes, poor services making Ireland ‘less attractive’

Employers’ group Ibec says public services have not kept pace with rapid rise in private sector

"Expensive housing, long commutes and stretched health" services are making Ireland a less attractive place to live, Irish Business and Employers' Confederation has claimed.

In a pre-election manifesto, Ibec said public infrastructure and services had not kept pace with the rapid rise in private sector investment and employment in recent years.

As a result “not everyone is feeling the full benefits of economic growth”, it said.

Since 2014, the Irish economy has grown by more than 50 per cent, largely as a result of a spike in investment and employment almost exclusively in the private sector. The surge has created more than 400,000 jobs – 25 in the private sector for every one in the public sector.

The additional demand on public services has resulted in bottlenecks across the economy, from housing and health to water and broadband.

Ibec said the next government needed to prioritise investment in these areas.

It called for a new national housing strategy to deliver more affordable homes and higher density development. The median or typical price paid for a Dublin home (€370,000) is now more than nine times the average salary.

Planning approval system

It also called for a further reform of the planning approval system so that key infrastructure projects were not impeded by unnecessary and costly delays.

“Ireland is prosperous. A strong economy is providing quality jobs, improving living standards and generating unprecedented tax revenues,” Ibec chief executive Danny McCoy said.

“But there are major challenges ahead. A shortage of housing, congested education, transport and health systems; and weak regional connectivity mean not everyone is feeling the full benefits of economic growth,” Mr McCoy said.

On climate change, the employers’ group said the next administration needed to take decisive action to decouple emissions and economic growth and build the foundations of a sustainable, competitive low carbon economy.

Eoin Burke-Kennedy

Eoin Burke-Kennedy

Eoin Burke-Kennedy is Economics Correspondent of The Irish Times