Wednesday 28 September 2016

Employers say housing is the biggest problem facing their staff

Published 02/08/2016 | 02:30

Graeme McQueen: ‘Managers say staff are complaining about the price of housing’. Photo: Frank McGrath
Graeme McQueen: ‘Managers say staff are complaining about the price of housing’. Photo: Frank McGrath

Close to 100 businesses in Dublin employ staff that face serious problems in finding suitable and affordable housing, a survey has found.

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Dublin Chamber of Commerce said it polled 292 business owners or managers in Dublin about the issue most raised by employees, and just over a third ranked the cost or availability of housing as among the biggest issues.

House affordability is more about cobbling a deposit together than meeting mortgage repayments, the chamber said.

And it argued that the Dirt relief for first-time buyers has "clearly failed".

The chamber also warned that too few resources have been put into Dublin's public transport, with London spending four times more per head of population on its transport system than Dublin.

Every three months, the chamber asks its members by way of an online survey what the biggest problems facing them are.

In the most recent survey, more than a third of those who responded said the biggest issue was affordable housing for their staff.

"When we've polled them over the past 18 months, it's been a growing trend and has been increasing all the time as a big issue in terms of the housing," Graeme McQueen, public affairs manager at Dublin Chamber of Commerce, told the Irish Independent.

"Business owners and business managers are telling us a lot of the time that staff are coming to them complaining about the price of housing and trying to find housing, and people of a certain age trying to get mortgages and find a place to buy - the calls are just getting stronger and stronger."

The chamber said 292 of its members responded to the online survey, which asked what issue is most raised by their employees.

About 34pc - just shy of 100 - said the cost or availability of housing was the biggest issue, while 33pc said traffic congestion and 10pc said the cost of childcare.

In its pre-Budget submission, the chamber argues that the housing shortage in the capital is getting worse.

"There were 26,800 units advertised for sale nationally in January 2016, representing 1.4pc of the private housing stock - a decrease of 13pc on the previous year," the submission stated.

"In Dublin, only 0.8pc of the housing stock was available for sale."

The chamber also said that the Government should consider the establishment of a savings scheme focused on first-time buyers that would incentivise and help them to build up a house deposit.

It suggested that the Government could contribute a 25pc bonus towards a first-time buyer's savings, when those savings are used exclusively to purchase a home.

It said a maximum of €400 could be saved into the account per month for a maximum of five years, with the Government topping it up by a maximum of €3,400.

The chamber also said that there was underinvestment in public transport in Dublin.

"At present, the transport capital envelope for Dublin stands at approximately €150m per annum," the chamber noted.

"Adjusted for population, London invests some €462m [per annum] and Manchester invests €367m per annum.

"Dublin Chamber recommends that the funding of bottleneck and congestion projects already identified not be delayed and that the investment timeline for the new Metro North be brought forward, with planning and design by late 2017.

"This would have a significant impact on the capital investment plan."

Irish Independent

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