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…
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