Thursday 22 August 2019

Ireland has lowest rate of home-ownership in almost 50 years - Dáil told

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. Photo: Niall Carson/PA
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. Photo: Niall Carson/PA
John Downing

John Downing

Barriers to young people buying their own homes has left Ireland with its lowest rate of home-ownership in almost 50 years, the Dáil has been told.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said the current Government had presided over "a litany of failures" on housing provision - with the doubling of numbers of children now homeless.

Mr Martin said the rate of home ownership in Ireland – once one of the EU’s highest – was now down to 68pc.  This is the lowest home-ownership rate since 1971.

The Fianna Fáil leader said families, who up to recently could hope to get a council house after a reasonable delay, were now condemned to living long-term in emergency accommodation. 

He said the shift to Housing Assistance Payments meant huge amounts of taxpayers’ money, which could go to house building, was now absorbed in emergency measures.

But the Taoiseach hit back at Fianna Fáil and accused them of causing the current housing crisis which his Government was now slowly getting to grips with.

Mr Varadkar said the government of 10 to 12 years ago, in which Mr Martin was a senior figure, presided over a false construction boom which ended abruptly and that was accompanied by a banking system collapse.

"You’re not in any position to lecture," the Taoiseach told the Fianna Fáil leader.

Mr Varadkar said 22,000 new homes were built in the last 12 months and he expected up to 25,000 new homes would be built this year. He said house prices were gradually levelling off, and actually falling in Dublin, and soon there would be enough new houses provided to meet demand.

The Taoiseach said the Government was committed to maintaining Ireland’s level of home-ownership. He said the rate of home-ownership fell faster under the last Fianna Fáil government.

Sinn Féin leader, Mary Lou McDonald, said housing costs, and especially rents, meant a "living wage" was now fixed by experts at €12.30 per hour. 

She said there was a significant gap between that and the minimum wage of €9.80 per hour.

Mr Varadkar said the Government had repeatedly increased the minimum wage and wanted to help everyone to earn enough.

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