Plenty of challenges ahead if new Minister for Housing is appointed

Plenty of challenges ahead if new Minister for Housing is appointed

It has been 36 days since the country went to the polls to vote in General Election 2016 and more than a month on it appears we are no closer to learning whether a Government is going to be formed or not.

Since the election one of the major topics on the agenda in talks between various parties and independents has been in relation to housing.

The sector has undoubtedly got its problems with homelessness on the rise, a lack of new builds commencing and many people forced out of the market due to the levels of deposits required to purchase a home.

Solutions for all these topics, and more, will be expected from whoever forms the next Government but could the constitution need a change to really make a difference?

Outgoing Minister for the Environment Alan Kelly seems to think so.

Yesterday he said redefining the constitutional rights of property owners was needed to reform the market and said a new Minister for Housing position in the cabinet was also recommended..

The Labour Party member said he found reforms repeatedly blocked by the protection of property rights under Article 43.

He said this had arisen during the introduction of the Vacant Site Levy and attempts to prevent tenants from eviction.

One thing that could help speed up the process of bringing about housing reform is the appointment of a new Minister for Housing, something which Minister Kelly backed when he spoke at the Housing and Homeless Forum yesterday.

Niamh Randall of the Simon Communities also backed such a proposal.

She said the response to the crisis requires cross departmental cooperation between the Departments of Finance, Social Protection and Expenditure and Reform – something a Minister for Housing could bring.

She added: “We very clearly need to focus our actions around what immediate measures we can take and I know and we absolutely agree there need to be short, medium and longer term options.

“We know it takes some time to build social housing, so what can we do in the immediate term?”

Focus Ireland issued new figures showing that 208 families became homeless in the first two months of this year compared to 739 during the whole of last year.

Housing charities are calling for an increase in rent supplements, protection for tenants from so-called vulture funds and a new model for building social housing.

Shane Dempsey of the Construction Industry Federation said high construction costs and the 10% deposit requirement were leading to supply problems.

He said the deposit requirement should be eased and mortgage approval raised to 4.5 times an individual’s income, which is the same as Britain.

Mr Dempsey also said the Government is currently taking 36% of the cost of a new house in tax and this should be lowered.

If there is a new Minister for Housing appointment it’s clear that he or she has their work cut out.

  • Do you think one is needed?
  • What should be the priorities?

Have your say below…

There are 11 comments for this article
  1. zengda at 4:05 am


  2. Pingback: Plenty of challenges ahead if new Minister for Housing is appointed | Rosalie Rodney
  3. STEPHEN at 9:09 pm

    Playing about with our constitutional rights is not a very clever idea irrespective of short term gains. A new Housing Minister will make no difference. The argument that Alan Kelly was being thwarted in his efforts by for example,by Michael Noonan is pathetic and if true doesn’t bode well for a United Fine Gael lead government in the future ie.(if two Ministers can’t play ball without whingeing then God help any future house building program.
    It’s not a Housing Minister we need; it is a radical Local Authority Housing Program that is required. Furthermore, Local Authorities should not be allowed sell public land to private developers, as is the case even now.
    Conversely, homeless people have to be realistic in their expectations and not to be “overchoosey” . There have been cases where homeless families have stated that they will not take up an offer of a house because it is not close enough to their children’s school; or that their children wouldn’t have their own room(would have to share with a sibling) or that they would be too far away from their extended family.
    Everyone needs to be realistic(from Minister down to Homeless) in order to sort out this disgraceful situation as soon as possible. Finally how is the Nation to possibly cope with a potential influx of migrants if we cannot even cope with our own homeless. Wake up Ireland and stop sleepwalking.

    • Dan at 11:24 am

      Landlords are exiting the market .The stock of rental houses is shrinking. Massive migration from eastern Europe into Ireland.Building costs are way too high ;therefore no new houses are bring built. .When will the Government (especially Alan Kelly) stop trying to blame Builders and Landlords for their own lack of planning and reform over the last 5 years.
      Alan Kelly has made this sudden lurch to the hard left in order to make political gain.. Sorry Alan this area is already occupied by Shin Fein and the hard lefties

  4. Peter Grant at 3:04 pm

    Alan Kelly has good intentions but his mindset is completely flawed, His efforts has for two years has made the situation worse. He is correct when he says the solution needs action from the ministry of finance. All he is doing is frustrating those in the productive sector of the economy who are the only people who will supply more accommodation.
    Excessive taxation and low wages are at the root of the problem, builders costs don’t allow them to supply affordable houses. Rent allowance is too low for house owners to rent them long term, Taxation of landlords rental income is putting buy to lets out of business. Nothing of this is being addressed in any real way. Just more talking shops and time wasting. The result is that we are now in the situation where rents need to go up much more before they can come down. Those who produce physical wealth in the form of housing are not being helped in any way by Alan Kelly or Michael Noonan.
    A rights based mindset works fine when real wealth is being created by the productive sector. There are so many productive people in this country just waiting for government to get out of their way and allow them to do what they do best. With little sign of real wage increases over the next few years we will soon arrive at a point where we will require government equity investment in both private housing as well as public housing
    if we are to maintain reasonable quality of life.

    • Brian at 9:23 pm

      I agree with the last three contributors here. The last Governments solution was to do nothing themselves and attempt to raid peoples rights on property including buy to let.Even the elderly were being blamed for not getting quickly out of the big boxes and into the little boxes. Their failure to get into the provision of property themselves for the less well off yet expecting private individuals to be tricked into the provision of lettable property by incentives and then taking the rug out from under them by forcing rents below market levels and introducing so much many regulations in favour of the tenant and against the providor of rentable property is ending in disaster and distress all round. They had the opportunity through NAMA to provide affordable housing but lack of direction has thrown that opportunity await into the hands of the get rich quick merchants.

      • Peter Grant at 11:30 pm

        Just watched a documentary on the homeless of Detroit..It should be mandatory viewing ..what happens to a place when the fundamentals which generate the wealth of a local economy are hollowed out… its frightening the level a modern city can be reduced to…

  5. Conerned at 2:47 pm

    I think that a Minister for housing is needed to look at the Housing issues as a hole, at the minute the Government seems to be giving Housing associations money to go and buy full housing estates (TUATH) have bought full estates in Finglas & Beaumont, fill them with 100% social housing, this is not joined up thinking, back to the days of putting people in to known social housing estates, were people can be discriminated for life, by their address! Instead of Buying 10-20% of all new estates integrating people in to areas with a case mix of old, young, Families, Single people, people of different backgrounds/Education/Work ethic, race, and religion. You would think that society has learned from making 100% area of a non mix of people But I do not think so by pursuing this policy!!! Concerned

  6. k Golding at 2:39 pm

    A differentiation also needs to be made between people who are genuinely homeless and people who are in hotel accommodation because they have refused other offers of housing and are waiting on the ideal. if you want the ideal pay for it like everyone else is expected to do. if you expect to get housing for free or heavily subsidized then you cannot cherry pick, refuse offers, and then claim to be homeless. Many such people are being tactically advised by their hard left TD to do this and cry that they are homeless, when in reality they are exacerbating the problem by turning down perfectly good accommodation offers while they wait to be handed their ideal house for free beside their mother / sister etc. it is incorrect to lump that type of tactical homeless position in with genuine homeless instances.

  7. Michael O’Neill at 2:24 pm

    Alan Kenny. AK47. A Minister in charge of an Ego, little else. As matters stand, ALL the blame for the current debacle lies at Alan Kelly’s feet. And what does he and his government do? Nothing for the past five years. Instead they allowed this housing crisis to build.

    Create the crisis. Then what? Use the solution (a new Minister and changing the law) to erode the rights of property owners in the name of doing something good for De Cmuunity?


    I would not trust a word of AK47 says. He is a self-admitted power-hungry politician with no clue how to handle his brief. All he is looking for in creating this New Minister for Housing is a convenient scapegoat when the position is seen to be the fig leaf that it will inevitably become.

    You cannot solve a housing crisis by creating a new position. Even if the aim was right, the calibre of the weapon is wholly undersized. Unlike Mr. Kelly’s ambition, it will be too small. A lore more needs to be done.

    IF AK47 revises the Building Control Regulations to make Developers liable for the shoddy goods they bring to market and the contractor liable for the non-compliant work they do, then you will see some glimmer of truth talking.

    PROVIDED AK47 ensures that its backed up by a regime of independent inspection by Building Control Inspectors like the well-tried and well-proven model in the UK a version of which used to run here under Building Bye Law officership, then we may see changes.

    BUT ONLY if this in turn is backed up by rigorous policing of the way Developers and Contractors use companies to evade their several responsibilities. And that is beyond the brief of a Minister for the Environment.

    But if the Office of Corporate Enforcement are not empowered to be vigilant and a streamlined means of meting out justice is not created in the court, no meaningful change will occur. As you can see from this overview, this Ministerial fairy story is just more political lies from a minion of this discredited government, struggling to find ways to cling onto power at any cost.

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