State can save €1bn a year building social homes, says PBP-Solidarity

Opposition party holds think-in ahead of Dáil’s return

A substantial increase in social housing output would save the State at €1 billion a year in housing assistance payments (HAP) and rental accommodation scheme (RAS) expenditure, People Before Profit-Solidarity has claimed.

The group held a think-in in Dublin on Tuesday on the eve of the Oireachtas reconvening for the autumn. Housing and the cost-of-living were the main themes.

At a press conference afterwards, Dún Laoghaire TD Richard Boyd-Barrett said PBP-Solidarity was the most prudential fiscally of all parties in the Dáil. He said increasing capital spending on housing would save “ballooning” expenditure outlays on HAP and RAS payments that currently stood at €1 billion annually.

As well as putting some of the surplus in the general government balance to invest in housing, PBP-Solidarity recommended raising additional revenues for social homes. “We have consistently argued for a wealth tax that will lead to savings, as well as increases in employers’ PRSI, and higher taxes on the highest earners.”


The meeting was addressed by teachers and also by third-level students who described the difficulties finding affordable accommodation and making ends meet with rising prices.

Cllr Hazel de Nortúin and Ruth Coppinger said they had been told that two-thirds of students were considering dropping out of college because of the high costs of accommodation and sustenance. “The disaster and carnage of the housing crisis is seeping into every facet of Irish life at this point,” said Ms Coppinger. “We can’t get nurses who can afford to live in cities. It is impacting the care sector.”

Ms Coppinger said that, with a €12 billion surplus, the State could build 60,000 homes.

Dublin South-West TD Paul Murphy, citing a statement from Barnardos earlier this year, said 10 per cent of people have said they will have to go to food banks because of the cost-of-living increases. “It is very clear the Coalition has failed to address the cost-of-living crisis. I would go further than that and say they have not just failed, but this Government represents those who benefit from the crisis,” Mr Murphy said.

“At the other end of the crisis there are companies on the other side who are doing extraordinarily well. Banks have doubled their profits, [as have] electricity companies, big oil and gas companies, and corporate landlords. All the evidence shows that of the driving factors for inflation in Ireland, and globally, two-thirds is a direct consequence of profiteering by these corporations.”

The parties called on the Government to build public houses on public land. They are taking part in a demonstration on these issues on October 7th.

Mr Murphy said 30,000 people took part in the protest in advance of last year’s budget and said among the things it would be calling for would be a return of a proper eviction ban.

Mr Boyd-Barrett said his constituency of Dún Laoghaire was a weathervane for what was coming down the line in the rest of the country.

“We have the highest rent levels in the country, at €2,500 to €3,000 a month. If you are an ordinary working person, if you face an eviction, you are in absolute dire straits. HAP does not get close to the rents out there. What’s happening in Dún Laoghaire today will happen everywhere in Dublin and in other urban centres, tomorrow.

“If you are homeless you are trapped. If you are over the thresholds for social housing or assistance you are in a worse position as you cannot get subsidies and you cannot afford the rent.”

The other TDs who attended the press conference were Bríd Smith, Mick Barry and Gino Kenny. The group said that the protest rally on October 7th was capable of influencing budget day decisions through what they described as “people power”.

Harry McGee

Harry McGee

Harry McGee is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times