Thursday, November 19, 2009

Government abandons social housing to bail out developers

The Department of the Environment recently informed local authorities that leasing units from the private sector will become the main driver of social housing delivery in the coming years. The plan will involve locking local authorities into a lease arrangement with a developer for periods of 10 and 20 years with the housing authority responsible for insurance, maintenance and upkeep. The tenants of the leased properties will be local authority tenants.

I think this plan is wrong and represents the wholesale privatisation of social housing. It is nothing more then a sop to developers and banks. The state is now going to spend tens of billions of taxpayer’s money over the next decade lining the pockets of developers. When these lease arrangements end neither the local authority nor the tenants will own a single brick on any of these properties. Families will also face the prospect of being asked to vacate a house that they lived in for 10 years or more and have made their family home.

This plan follows on from the Rental Accommodation Scheme which sees the state spending €500 million a year on private accommodation and seeks to extend this further and will inevitably see billions of Euros of taxpayers money wasted. The winners from this scheme are developers and landlords and the losers will be the taxpayer and potential social housing tenants. This is another Government sop to developers and must be scrapped.

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