Wednesday 26 June 2019

Murphy told to 'rethink plans' for solution to housing crisis

Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy. Photo: Collins
Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy. Photo: Collins
Laura Larkin

Laura Larkin

Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy will be urged to return to the drawing board on the Government's housing policy in light of Brexit in a new report which will be signed off by a Fine Gael TD.

A draft report from the Oireachtas Housing Committee, which is chaired by Fine Gael TD Maria Bailey, is critical of the Government's handling of the housing crisis and raises concern that its use of housing assistance payments (HAP) may inadvertently increase pressure on the rental market.

While the report is based on an investigation of the potential impact of Brexit on the troubled housing sector, it concludes that "most of the weaknesses highlighted exist regardless of Brexit" and that any fall-out from the UK's departure is likely to worsen existing problems rather than create new ones.

The report says: "Ultimately, the committee is of the opinion that moving forward the Government needs to apply more dynamic thinking to solving the housing crisis."

The department will also be urged to draw up contingency plans to ensure that the housing sector is protected against shocks in the short to medium term post-Brexit. The report also recommends "current housing policy, specifically Rebuilding Ireland, is re-examined and the targets are updated to reflect the current housing demand, including the anticipated effects of Brexit".

It also calls for a review process to be put in place to ensure future housing plans remain relevant.

In relation to the State's public housing approach, the committee sounds alarm bells on the level of output and says more needs to be done to provide public housing.

Concern has been expressed by the Economic and Social Research Institute that social housing may fall victim to Brexit if the economy takes a downturn. However, the department has insisted its targets on social housing will remain a main objective.

The report, due to be launched today, will recommend the social housing model be "reviewed and revised".

It notes that the true impact of Brexit on the housing sector - positive or negative - is difficult to quantify without knowing what the impact of Brexit will be on the overall economy.

Another key area highlighted in the report is the supply of skilled construction workers and materials, with a call to ensure an alternative supply chain is in place if Britain crashes out. It recommends that more be done to attract skilled workers to Ireland and to promote apprenticeships.

Irish Independent

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