In a statement, Richard Boyd Barrett TD for the People Before Profit Alliance has condemned the Urban Regeneration & Housing Bill 2015 that will see its final passage through the Dáil today as a hugely regressive bill that will “prompt the wholesale privatisation of social housing provision and impose an enormous financial burden on the state over future years, benefitting only property developers and speculators.”
Deputy Boyd Barrett said the measures in the bill which allowed private developers to opt out of its obligation to transfer 10% (reduced from 20% in the bill) of any housing development to the ownership of local authorities and instead simply lease this proportion of any development to councils would result in “a virtual end to direct council house provision and cost the state hundreds of millions extra every year to enrich property developers and landlords.”
Deputy Boyd Barrett, who was the first TD to identify and submit amendments at the committee stage of the bill seeking to delete the leasing get-out clause for developers, expressed disappointment that “such hugely substantial and controversial changes to social housing policy have received virtually no media attention despite the current scale of the housing crisis, the potential costs to the state, and a long and stormy debate in the Dáil over the last week.”
“This bill which the government have attempted to present as an effort to deal with the current housing crisis will, in fact, further outsource social housing to private developers, speculators and landlords. It will mean the vast majority of the 100,000 families on the housing list will never get a council house they can call their own. Rather they will be prey to private landlords in perpetuity and the bill to the public in terms of on-going payments to those landlords and developers will go through the roof.
What the government have actually done here is use the crisis atmosphere around housing and homelessness to initiate a wholesale privatisation and counter-revolution in terms of social housing, the only beneficiaries of which will be our old friends the developers and landlords. It beggars belief that the government could go down this road when it was precisely the monopoly on housing held by developers and landlords that led the Irish and global economy into melt-down.
Low and middle income families and that the entire economy will pay a terrible price in future years for this totally retrograde and crazy move. The government are copper-fastening and increasing the monopoly of private developers and speculators over housing against a background of spiralling rental and property prices and an unprecedented housing crisis – this is the definition of economic and social madness.
Given the importance of the issues at stake, it is hugely disappointing that there has been little or no media scrutiny or debate on this bill. I would hope even at this late stage that situation will change.”