Wednesday 22 November 2017

Policy is useless unless builders start building

'Options such as giving money to so-called 'empty nesters' to encourage them to move into smaller homes would only free up 26,000 houses nationally; this would barely meet the need of a single year' Stock photo: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire
'Options such as giving money to so-called 'empty nesters' to encourage them to move into smaller homes would only free up 26,000 houses nationally; this would barely meet the need of a single year' Stock photo: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire
Editorial

Editorial

Economist John Kenneth Galbraith strongly disagreed with the conventional wisdom that politics is the art of the possible, as suggested by Bismarck. "It consists," he said instead, "of choosing between the disastrous and the unpalatable."

From the disastrous to the unpalatable just about covers the policy spectrum as laid out by successive Governments on housing. The "disastrous" covers the bubble which ultimately led to the crash; the "unpalatable" is seen in all of our city streets, where people are sleeping out in the cold. Then there are the young and the put-upon locked out of the property market and driven further and further out into ever-expanding suburbs. The necessity of having to put together a deposit of €51,000 to buy your average home in the capital is beyond most. Against such a backdrop it is no great shock to see the ESRI critical of government policy.

We know that the problem is one of supply. Builders point to the costs driven by the State, such as the 13.5pc VAT, the very high level of professional fees required for certification and the necessity to allow for social housing. All of these factors turn the dream of owning a home into a nightmare for young families. But the ESRI is also concerned about the huge difficulties facing an ageing population and the lack of appropriate housing.

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