Thursday, 13 December 2018
Ceisteanna ó Cheannairí - Leaders' Questions
Asked-for rents are 26% higher than at the peak of the Celtic tiger according to daft.ie. Job opportunities are overwhelmingly concentrated in the towns and cities and that is where the rent pressures are most acute. Rent pressure zones are meant to slow down rent increases to 4% a year, but if we use compound over the period of five years, that is 21.7% even where they are working. In many areas, they are not. An increase of 21.7% in five years is not affordable. It is in no way linked to people's increase in wages over that period.
The solution to the affordability crisis in housing, as the Tánaiste has rightly stated, is supply. However, there is another side, and that is workers' pay - people's incomes. Ireland has a far larger share of workers on low incomes compared to other European countries. The Irish living wage is calculated on the basis of the actual cost of living facing people in both rural and urban areas. It is estimated that a single person working on a full-time basis would need to be paid €464 a week in order to meet a basic standard of living. The national minimum wage is €372 per week, €92 short of meeting basic need, assuming the person is in full-time work. A number of sectoral wage agreements are based on the minimum wage and are usually set €1 above it. In short, it is not possible to live on that amount. What workers need is a pay rise. Will the Government agree to accelerate the rise in the minimum wage and sectoral agreements to link with what everyone now agrees is a living wage?