Tuesday, 8 October 2019
Financial Resolutions - Budget Statement 2020
Richard Boyd Barrett (Dún Laoghaire, People Before Profit Alliance)
Mortgages are cheaper than the rents being charged in Dublin. How wealthy does one have to be to pay the average rental price in Dublin of €2,000, or €2,200 in my area, or even €2,400 a month? Who can afford that? Of course there is a group of people making money out of it. What is the Government doing to tax them? It includes the vulture funds, the cuckoo funds and the big corporate landlords who as we speak are moving to evict people in my area and several places in the city. I have to go to the Residential Tenancies Board tomorrow with tenants from my area who are facing the fourth attempt in two years by a vulture fund to evict them. Threshold believes that the fund will finally succeed in getting all these people out. They will then arrive to Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council, presenting as homeless. It is shocking. Loopholes the Government has left in the legislation allow the vulture funds to do this.
There is breaking news for journalists and so on about a €27 million cut in central Government funding for local government in the budget estimates book. That is a 13% cut. It is on page 53. When the local property tax was introduced by the Government, we opposed it and said it was regressive. One of the seven points of the local property tax was supposedly that there would be more money for local government. That has not happened. Local government resources have been reduced along with its ability to provide services and so on. Funding from central Government has been reduced by another 13% in this budget.
That is in line with Fine Gael policy on housing and the whole thrust of this budget. It is about giving more money to private landlords in the form of the housing assistance payment, the local infrastructure housing activation fund and the rental accommodation scheme etc.
We are having quibbles about how much social housing is being delivered but the figures being quoted by the Minister of State, Deputy Finian McGrath, includes those units built to satisfy Part V rules. They are built by the private sector before being sold to or, more often, leased to local authorities at an astronomical price, which again benefits cuckoo funds. At a development called Cualanor in my area, approximately five full apartment blocks have been sold en bloc- with hundreds of units in each block - to vulture funds in the past year or so. I made a point of saying this to a Minister at Leaders' Questions one day. Many of these apartments are now occupied with housing assistance payment, HAP, tenancies. These cuckoo funds are also benefiting from big section 110 tax breaks. If they invest in Irish property for a certain amount of time, they do not pay tax on the rental income or capital gains being made while the value of a property goes through the roof. In a triple whammy, the properties are leased from those companies by local authorities at an astronomical price.