‘Clear evidence’ of housing inequality in Ireland, ‘wellbeing report’ finds

Government report finds ‘very large difference’ in proportion of households paying over 40 per cent of income on housing costs

There is “clear evidence” of housing inequality in Ireland, according to a Government report on public wellbeing.

On Friday, the Government published Understanding Life in Ireland: The Well-being Framework 2023, which seeks to provide a more holistic way of thinking about how Ireland is doing as a country, with its focus on quality of life.

It found while housing overall was performing well, it had the highest level of inequality across all 11 areas of analysis.

The report identified a “very large difference” in the proportion of households paying over 40 per cent of income on housing costs depending on tenure type.


Fewer than 1 per cent of households who own their home, either with or without an outstanding mortgage, experience housing cost overburden. By comparison, over 10 per cent of households renting at market price, and over 4 per cent of households renting at reduced price, spend more than 40 per cent of their income on housing costs.

Housing cost burden is more concentrated in cities, where the overburden rate is 4.6 per cent, compared to 1.2 per cent for towns and suburbs and 1.6 per cent for rural areas.

The average distance of residential dwellings to everyday services varies by urbanisation, with services in rural areas further away in 2019.

The largest percentage difference was the average distance to pharmacies (0.8km in urban areas, 5.9km in rural areas) followed by GP (0.9km in urban areas, 6.5km in rural areas).

The smallest percentage difference was distance to primary and secondary road network (3.2km in urban areas, 7.1km in rural areas) followed by HSE maternity hospitals (14.6km in urban areas, 34.2km in rural areas).

Overall, the 2023 report found that 10 of the 11 areas of analysis were performing well. One dimension – environment, climate and biodiversity – was performing negatively.

The report highlighted high levels of carbon emissions, waste generation, pollution and poor water quality in Irish rivers.

Mental and physical health was the second worst performing dimension, according to the report.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said the latest report shows Ireland is “doing well when it comes to most things when we compare ourselves with the past and with other countries”.

“This year’s report shows that Ireland is on the right track as a country making solid progress in most areas but there is still much work to do. There is always more work to do,” he said.

“The work of the new Child Poverty and wellbeing Unit in my Department will also make a difference especially for children and their families.”

Paschal Donohoe, Minister for Public Expenditure, said the report provides “valuable insights” into the lives of people in Ireland.

Mr Donohoe said the information from the report can be “utilised at all levels and across all Government Departments, to improve the design of public policy and develop effective and sustainable public services that continually improve the lives of our people”.

Shauna Bowers

Shauna Bowers

Shauna Bowers is a reporter for The Irish Times