Ireland’s Housing Crisis Trundles On
Last week saw Ireland’s Minister for Housing, Eoghan Murphy, narrowly survive a motion of no-confidence, in the Irish Parliament.
It was the second motion of no-confidence in the Minister in less than 15 months.
As Ireland’s political parties gear up for a general election, the country’s housing crisis continues, seemingly unabated.
Ireland must go to the polls before April 10th 2021, but many feel that a general election will take place much sooner.
Uncertainty around Brexit has been one of the main factors in holding off on an election but with the UK general election taking place next week, political minds will be hoping for clarity to focus on what 2020 will bring for domestic Irish politics.
Housing in Ireland has been a thorn in the side of Government since the economic crash in 2008.
The property bubble that existed in Ireland, peaked in 2006, at the height of the country’s Celtic Tiger. From 2007 onwards, house prices dropped and by 2010, had fallen by 35% compared with the second quarter of 2007.
The fall in Ireland’s property prices was a major contributing factor to the 2008 Irish banking crisis.
House prices began to recover in 2013. This was followed by a prolonged period of property price increases, which has only begun to slow over the last year.
Earlier this year, typical house prices in Dublin were at nine times the average salary.
The price-income multiple, a standard measure of affordability worldwide, considers an affordable home for a worker to be three to four times their income.
Following the economic crash of 2008, the Central Bank of Ireland put in place limitations on borrowing. This means people cannot borrow more than 3½ times their income.
This protects the economy from the formation of a property bubble but leaves the majority of working people unable to afford a home.
Despite the recent slow-down, the cost of housing continues to price low and middle-income families out of the housing market.
In addition to this, homelessness figures in Ireland continue to rise while rental prices continue to spiral out of control.
Latest figures published by the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government. show 6524 homeless adults in Ireland, and 1756 families without permanent accommodation.
In a country with a population of just 4.8 million, the figures are grim.
The obvious answer to this would be to build more houses to drive down property prices.
The Government pledged to do this as part of its Rebuilding Ireland programme.
Launched in 2016, the programme was set to tackle Ireland’s housing crisis on five fronts – addressing homelessness, accelerating social housing, building more homes, improving the rental sector, and utilising existing housing.
Reactions to the results of the Programme have to date been mixed. Questions have been raised over clarity around the results while confusion has arisen around the terminology used by Government in relation to the programme.
Houses described as ‘delivered’ under the programme are not necessarily houses that have been ‘built,’ but rather houses that have become available from the private rental sector from landlords willing to rent houses as social housing.
There’s a growing feeling among opposition parties and the public that lack of progress in the housing sector will drive the call for the next general election.
In a further criticism of how Government is handling the housing crisis, providing subsidies to bridge the price gap thereby sustaining the current model, instead of building more houses, opposition spokesperson on housing, Deputy Darragh O’Brien has accused them of ‘an overreliance on the private sector, funnelling billions into landlords rather than building.’
Criticising Minister Murphy for the amount of money his Department plans to put into supporting rental payments for people on social welfare he said, ‘We need to get Local Authorities back into direct build and shift away from pouring billions into the private sector. The Minister should take the shackles off Local Authorities and put bricks and mortar into the ground not billions into landlords’ pockets.’
(Image by Mooncross via creativecommons.org)