Wednesday 24 July 2019

Provision of social housing for non-EU nationals queried

A REPORT that reveals 70 different nationalities on Fingal's social housing lists has led one councillor to question why the local authority offers housing support to non-EU citizens.

Fine Gael Councillor Kieran Dennison has raised questions about Ireland's social housing policy after it was revealed that Fingal County Council were housing up to 70 different nationalities, many from outside the EU. Cllr. Dennison said: 'It was only when I was elected to the council that I realised we were housing people from all over the world. 'I can understand our obligation to provide for EU citizens who have been working here but I do question why we are providing social housing for the rest of the world.'

The councillor said that this year Fingal will spend €40m maintaining its 4,465 social housing units and administering a growing waiting list that now stand at 8,572. More than half those on the list are from outside Ireland with non-eu nationals accounting for 26 per cent of the total.

Despite efforts to reduce the list through various leasing schemes and voluntary housing initiatives, the housing list has grown by 26 per cent over the last two years, according to the Fine Gael councillor. With no new houses being built, local authorities are relying on the Rental Accommodation Scheme (RAS) in which units are leased from private landlords and then rented to those on the housing list. Since its inception in 2006, over 700 units have been leased in Fingal but the uptake by landlords has been slower than expected.

Suggesting too much is spent on rent supplement, Cllr. Dennison said: ' This (the low uptake of RAS) is because landlords can get higher rents from tenants on rent supplement than from a local authority that will drive a harder bargain under the RAS scheme. 'Figures provided to me by the HSE last year revealed that over €520m was spent nationally on rent supplement, accounting for half of all residential rents in Ireland. 'Recent changes announced by the Minister for Social protection, Joan Burton will cut this by €22m or a mere five per cent.'