A Social Housing Budget Requires a Bricks-and-Mortar Investment

Tuesday, 10th October 2017
The Irish Council for Social Housing (ICSH) has said this year’s housing budget demonstrates that the government is investing in social housing. However, the housing association membership body is concerned that diverting significant funds to supporting the private rental sector represents bad value for money. Social housing is an essential public service, and new spending should be used to rebuild the country’s depleted social housing stock.
Speaking after the budget statement today, Chief Executive of the Irish Council for Social Housing, Dr Donal McManus said: “The housing allocation of €1.83bn is an increase of 50% on last year and is therefore welcome. The commitment of a further €500 million in capital expenditure on housing over the lifetime of the five-year Rebuilding Ireland action plan is also welcome. However, it is coming from a low base.
“Of the €600m in additional funds for housing, €149million is being allocated for HAP and this is a concern. Funding to address homelessness and those at risk of homelessness is certainly welcome but we need to question our approach here. Expanding the HAP programme, which relies entirely on the private rental sector, is worrying as there isn’t enough rental stock out there. On Budget Day there were 1,123 properties to rent on Daft.ie for the whole of County Dublin.  Of these, only 100 were under the HAP maximum rate of €1,300 for a family with 3 children, and almost all were 1-bed units. Short-term and temporary measures will chip-away at the social housing budget without increasing the social housing stock.
The €500 million capital expenditure increase can provide an additional 2,500 homes or more if private finance is leveraged, and housing associations have the experience and expertise in accessing private funding. The sector also needs to see evidence of investment in affordable rental measures. Home ownership in urban areas is at less than 70%, so progressive housing policy must reflect this trend. Housing associations own and manage 32,000 social rented homes for families, older people, people with disabilities and homeless households. That’s 20% of the national social housing stock. Under, Rebuilding Ireland, we’ll be increasing our stock by 50%, but that means providing multi-annual funding and subsidised local authority sites that allow us to build strategically.”
Reflecting on additional housing measures announced in today’s budget statement, Dr McManus said: “The ICSH welcomes today’s announcement of a vacant site levy increase as well as capital gains tax measures. These have, to date, rewarded land hoarding and property speculation. But we also need to see fresh thinking in capital funding to support housing for older people and people with disabilities and evidence of innovation around flexible models for supported housing for older people. This could see family homes released in high-demand urban locations. Ireland has an ageing population and we’re getting older, not younger.” 
For further information, please contact:
Ken Reid, Information and Communications Coordinator
Tel: (01) 661 8334; 086 0831786
About the ICSH
  • The Irish Council for Social Housing (ICSH) is the national federation for non-profit housing associations, representing approximately 270 members that provide social housing.  The sector manages over 32,000 homes for families on a low income, older people, people with disabilities and homeless households.  
  • Approved Housing Bodies (AHBs) – also known as housing associations – are non-profit organisations that provide and manage good-quality housing at affordable rents for households in housing need. 
  • Further information is available at www.icsh.ie
Tuesday, 10 October, 2017