Thursday, 29 September 2022
Ceisteanna ó Cheannairí - Leaders' Questions
I have to ask what part of the term "affordability crisis" the Government does not understand. Earlier this month, we learned that house prices had surpassed their Celtic tiger peak. Never before in the history of the State have they been so high. Workers and families are locked out of homeownership, stuck in a never-ending loop of paying extortionate rents but never being able to buy a home. The housing disaster is causing untold human misery and pain. Nowhere is this clearer than in the record numbers of people who are becoming homeless. Homelessness is up by a massive 30% this year. Child homelessness has skyrocketed by 47%. Thousands of children are losing their childhoods while growing up in emergency accommodation. This is happening on the Government's watch and it is getting worse. People no longer believe the Government's promises on housing. Why should they? The reality is that under successive Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil Governments, levels of homeownership have collapsed. The share of 25- to 34-year-olds who own their own homes more than halved between 2004 and 2019, falling from 60% to just 27%. That is Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil's record on homeownership - a generation of young people who no longer hold out any hope of one day owning their own homes. None of the Government's targets on affordable housing has been delivered. Last year it did not manage to build a single affordable home, not even one. This year will not be much better. The Cabinet sub-committee on housing has been told that targets for affordable and social homes have no hope of being met. Those targets were not ambitious enough to start with.
Faced with this disaster and litany of failure, what is the Government's response to the affordability crisis? It is not to build more affordable homes or to meet its own targets. Instead, it is to make homes even more unaffordable. The Government has decided to introduce a levy on concrete blocks that will add a further €3,000 to €4,000 to the price of a home. On what planet does this make sense? Does the Government really propose to place the cost of shoddy building work and defective materials onto the shoulders of people who are struggling to buy a home? Can the Tánaiste explain? Why has the Government not directly pursued those responsible for construction defects as it promised? Why are quarries that are producing defective materials still being allowed to operate? That is what the Oireachtas housing committee was told by experts a few months ago. Is the Government going to abandon its plans to impose this unfair levy?