Fianna Fáil Press Office
Cllr Jim O’Callaghan
Dublin Bay South
26 January 2016
Taoiseach’s refusal to tackle rent allowance further evidence of FG arrogance – O’Callaghan
Fianna Fáil General Election candidate for Dublin Bay South Cllr Jim O’Callaghan has hit out at the Taoiseach’s refusal to consider increasing rent allowance for families at risk of homelessness.
“The Taoiseach’s response comes at a time when 95% of properties available to rent are priced beyond the reach of people depending on state rent supports for their housing, according to a study by the Simon Community released today.
“This is yet another indicator of the urgent need for reform. Conducted over three consecutive days in November, ‘Locked Out of the Market III: The Gap Between Rent Supplement/HAP Limits and Market Rents’ highlights the extent of the shrinking private rented market as the ever increasing gap between rising rents and rent supplement/housing assistance payments (HAP) limits. The Simon Communities also undertook this study in May and August 2015. Rents have increased by 32.3% since April 2012 while rent limits have remained unchanged since June 2013.
“This Government has completely failed to take charge of the homelessness issue, and because of a lack of concrete measures, this problem has now turned into a national emergency. The problem spans across a number of sectors – home ownership, rental, social housing and emergency accommodation. The fact of the matter is that there is a serious lack of supply, as a direct result of Fine Gael’s lack of investment in the area.
“Fianna Fáil built 14,581 social housing units between 2007 and 2010. In contrast Fine Gael and Labour constructed just 1,252 units over the past five years. The abandonment of the social housing programme has led to a dramatic shortage of supply, which in turn is forcing up rents in the private sector. This Government has spent the past year scrambling to come up with a plan, but their reheated ideas are simply not delivering.
“We have a credible, multi-faceted approach to address this crisis. We will build 45,000 social houses by substantially increasing exchequer funding and ring-fencing it specifically for this use. We will also introduce a help-to-buy scheme for new home owners.
“The Taoiseach’s refusal to increase rent supplement makes no sense. In fact, the decision to maintain the existing thresholds is perpetuating the mindless situation whereby families are being placed in emergency hotel accommodation at an enormous cost to the State, rather than allowing them a marginal increase in rent support. Fianna Fáil would increase the rent supplement to help these families stay in their homes.
“This Government’s record on housing and homelessness is appalling, and the fact that the Taoiseach is still refusing to implement measures which would ease the crisis speaks volumes about where his priorities are. Fianna Fáil wants to see all sections of society looked after – not just the wealthiest. Our proposals will help the most vulnerable, they’ll ensure that families can stay in their homes and are not forced into hotels and they will create a sustainable housing plan that will increase social housing units so that families have affordable options open to them”.