In a statement, Richard Boyd Barrett TD has expressed utter shock at the Coalition government’s new Social Housing policy, which he said “will effectively do away with Council housing as we know it and will see tens of thousands of housing applicants across the country removed from Council lists.”

Under the new policy local authorities will build NO social housing for the foreseeable future and virtually all those currently in private rented accommodation and in receipt of rent allowance will be deemed to be adequately housed and disqualified from Council housing lists. Deputy Boyd Barrett said the proposals represented yet another obscene bail-out for the developers and banks that had caused the current crisis, where hundreds of millions more would be poured into their coffers rather than coming back to the local authorities in the form of Council rents. Deputy Boyd Barrett’s comments follow last night’s meeting of Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council (DLRCC) where the government’s new Housing Allocations Scheme was presented and voted upon.

Only Cllr’s Melisa Halpin and Hugh Lewis of People Before Profit voted to oppose the scheme. The new housing policy is due to be implemented in all local authorities across the country and will see thousands of families thrown off the housing list. Deputy Boyd Barrett warned that the new policy will cause mayhem and anger as it become becomes clear to thousands of families and individuals across the country that they will now never get a Council home of their own. Under the new government policy, the preferred scheme for providing social housing will be via the leasing by Councils of accommodation from private landlords and developers. Furthermore, there has also been a significant change of the definition of housing need which will mean that thousands of people currently on the waiting list may be considered to not need housing.

Richard Boyd Barrett, TD says: “This new scheme is a truly shocking and virtually no-one seems to be aware of it. The government is effectively doing away with the traditional concept of Council housing and at a stroke disqualifying thousands upon thousands of applicants from Council housing lists. There is going to be mayhem and extreme anger when thousands of people waiting years on Council housing lists discover that they are no longer eligible for Council housing. This plan amounts to the wholesale privatisation of the social housing sector, in what is clearly another massive bail-out for the developers and the banks that fuelled the property bubble and caused the current economic crisis. The choice to abandon building council houses and instead lease housing from landlords, is a plan to pour even more hundreds of millions, possibly billions, into the pockets of the banks we have already bailed out and whose greed has crippled our society. The new housing scheme was one of the last acts of the previous Government. The new government had it within their gift to reverse this obscene move, and instead they proceeded with Fianna Fail policy. In times of recession we need public housing more than ever – Labour and Fine Gael should not be allowed to get away with saying there are no options. The obvious alternative is to give the NAMA buildings to local authorities for use as public housing and to construct sufficient numbers of Council houses – saving the exchequer billions of euro in rent allowance. Incredibly, after everything that has happened to this economy, the new government is going in exactly the opposite direction, following in the footsteps of the last government.”

Richard Boyd Barrett TD will be taking this issue up with Minister Phil Hogan in Questions to the Minister. Cllr Melisa Halpin said: “The change to how someone is deemed to be in need of housing is very restrictive and basically means that you must be in dire circumstances before you will be eligible for housing. Of course, all of those in dire straits should be housed but this new definition means that possibly thousands of people who are living in private rented accommodation will be considered to not be in need of housing. The security of a council tenancy, a home to call your own is now going to be a privilege for the precious few rather than a basic right.” “All the Labour Councillors voted in favour of the new scheme on the basis that there is no alternative because Ireland is now acting at the behest of the IMF. Their colleague, Willie Penrose, the junior minister for housing is responsible for these changes. Labour should be standing up to the IMF as it promised before the election, and letting the bondholders take the hit rather than the thousands of people who are waiting years for housing.”