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Housing Bill goes against very idea of social housing – Dessie Ellis TD

17 June, 2014 - by Dessie Ellis TD

Sinn Féin Housing Spokesperson Dessie Ellis TD has condemned Minister Jan O'Sullivan's dismissals of criticism of her Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2014, stating that the Bill contained measures to turn social housing on its head and do untold damage to the campaign to provide housing.

He made his comments in the run up to both the continuation of the Dáil debate on the Bill and a protest planned for out outside Leinster House this evening.

Deputy Ellis continued;

"The new scheme of Housing Assistance Payment in this Bill is a subtle attack on social housing which will have far reaching consequences. Tenants under HAP will be deemed to no longer have a housing need. This means they will be confined to a system like Rent Supplement where their private rents are subsidised. This might on the face of it sound okay but it is a very dangerous policy.

“If the state can reduce housing waiting lists by putting people in insecure, high cost private accommodation, which is subsidised by the public purse, then that is exactly what they will do. This will remove any impetus on the government to deliver real social housing and those in HAP will not be able to move on. Without new social housing developments, rents will continue to be beyond the means of many and there will be no desire by governments to tackle the problem.

"Rent Supplement already costs the state €344 million a year. HAP will in the long run also have a very high cost. It will be used to reduce waiting list numbers in order to make it seem like housing need is being dealt with when it has really just been redefined. This is bad value for money and it will have a very negative effect on the private rental market, further artificially inflating rents due to scarcity of places available.

“We need to build social housing as outlined in Sinn Féin's stimulus plan which provides for 6735 new and refurbished homes. We need rent control to stop people from losing their homes due to the current shortage and we need to establish local authority housing trusts as is being done in South Dublin City Council in order to access funding to build and maintain a large stock of social housing.

“The solution to the crisis in social housing is to provide more housing not to redefine social housing as this government is trying to do. The cost of this campaign by the government will fall on the public purse and the people in housing need and their families."

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