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Inadequate housing subsidies ‘driving people to poverty’


Seán Healy of Social Justice Ireland. Photo: Tom Burke

Seán Healy of Social Justice Ireland. Photo: Tom Burke

Seán Healy of Social Justice Ireland. Photo: Tom Burke

More people are being driven into poverty as a result of inadequate housing subsidies, according to a new report.

The poverty risk of households in receipt of housing subsidies is two and a half times greater after they have paid their rent, according to Social Justice Ireland’s latest study, titled Housing and Poverty 2022.

“Far from supporting families out of poverty, housing subsidies are so inadequate as to be driving greater numbers into it,” it stated.

Economic and social analyst Colette Bennett said: “We have argued for years that housing subsidies such as the Housing Assistance Payment and Rental Accommodation Scheme did not work. This latest study provides further proof of that.

“The poverty rate among households in receipt of housing subsidies is 22.7pc before they make any rent payments. After these payments have been made, that rate increases to 55.9pc.

“Clearly, subsidies are not working, when the rents households must pay are driving them into poverty at this rate.”

She said it was essential that the Government should increase spending on building social homes “instead of relying on a dysfunctional private rented sector”. The study analysed the impact of housing costs – mortgage interest and rent – on the poverty rates of various household types.

Among the key findings was that lone parents are the worst affected of all household types, with an increase in the poverty rate to 50pc after housing payments.

People living with a long-standing health problem are also severely affected, with a poverty rate increasing from 33.7pc before housing costs to 47.4pc after.

The group is calling for a number of measures to be implemented, including a target of having 20pc of all housing stock as social housing.

It is also urging that legislation should be introduced to limit the length of time families can spend in family hubs and other emergency accommodation. 

CEO Seán Healy said: “It should be a national priority to provide all with sufficient income to live life with dignity.

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“This would require enough income to provide a minimum floor of social and economic resources in such a way as to ensure that no person in Ireland falls below the threshold of social provision necessary to enable him or her to participate in activities that are considered the norm for society generally, including the provision of a decent home.”

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