SVP urges incentives for landlords to tackle housing crisis

Charity calls for extension of early childcare schemes in pre-budget submission

Audry Deane, SVP social justice and policy officer, John-Mark McCafferty, head of social justice and policy, Kieran Stafford, national vice-president and Liz Kerrins, social policy development officer, at the launch of the Budget 2016 submission. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Audry Deane, SVP social justice and policy officer, John-Mark McCafferty, head of social justice and policy, Kieran Stafford, national vice-president and Liz Kerrins, social policy development officer, at the launch of the Budget 2016 submission. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

 

The Government should provide a financial incentive to landlords to accept tenants receiving housing assistance payments as a means of tackling the housing crisis, the Society of St Vincent de Paul (SVP) said.

At least 90,000 households were in need of social housing in Ireland and this need would increase “drastically” over the coming years due to the acceleration of home repossessions and economic eviction.

Publishing its pre-Budget 2016 submission in Dublin on Thursday, the charity said Ireland had experienced disproportionate austerity, with people on lower incomes suffering due to political choices.

The most persistent issues witnessed by some 11,500 volunteers across the country were inadequate incomes and the high cost of living, poor housing supply, energy poverty and barriers to accessing the jobs market.

SVP’s head of social justice and policy John-Mark McCafferty said the submission outlined what was very much a policy of social investment as part of a “slightly expansionary” budget later in the year.

Energy efficiency

The charity said a condition for receipt of financial incentives by landlords should be that the quality of private rented accommodation was improved, with improvements in energy efficiency for example.

It also called for an immediate increase in rent supplement limits to “realistic levels” as a temporary measure to prevent homelessness.

SVP said it was concerned that targets in relation to new social housing supply promised by the Government for 2015 would not be realised.

It sought a review of housing delivery to date against the targets.

In the pre-budget document entitled ‘Investing in what matters’, the charity said that while it welcomed reduced unemployment figures, the State was not close to its policy goal of ‘making work pay’ for those whose earnings potential was relatively low.

Welfare supports

“Wages and welfare supports are crucial – but so are affordable, quality services,” it said.

“Early childhood care and education, as well as after school care provision, are totally inadequate and too expensive for people on lower incomes. This is particularly true for one parent families currently being required by Government to take up employment or increase their working hours.”

SVP sought an extension of the community childcare subvention to all early years services, both community and private.

It said this would cost €50 million in 2016. In addition, extending the current early childhood care and education programme for three- to four-year-olds to three hours a day, five days per week for 48 weeks instead of 38 weeks would cost €83 million.

National vice-president of SVP, Kieran Stafford, said the charity accepted that managing an economy was a complex issue.

“Creating employment is key to achieving a vibrant economy that can provide the services that all sections of the community need and deserve.

“However, we do not believe that there is political will to make real change in how we allocate resources that will give equal opportunity to all our citizens.”

Mr Stafford said it was now time for radical thinking to achieve real change.