June 3, 2021
HAP ‘a poor substitute for social houses’ – Imelda Munster TD

Sinn Féin member of the Public Accounts Committee Imelda Munster TD today described the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) as ‘a poor substitute for social housing’ at a hearing of the Committee to discuss Department of Housing rent support schemes.

Having previously met with the Department last November, the Committee scheduled a second meeting regarding the appropriation accounts of the department to consider the efficacy of spending on schemes such as the HAP, Rental Accommodation Scheme (RAS) and Enhanced Long Term Social Housing Leasing Scheme.

Teachta Munster said:

“This year will see the amount of money spent by the Department of Housing on subsidising private landlords eclipse €1 billion, representing nearly a third of all government spending on housing.

“This money could be far better used building social housing and actually affordable homes.

“What makes this all the more galling is the clear role that HAP in particular plays in driving up rental prices.

“In my constituency of Louth for example, in 2017 the average rent of a three-bed house was €977 – today that stands at €1,230.

“Rents nationally have increased at a similar pace, and we can see this reflected in the cost of supporting HAP, with almost 44% of recipients outside of Dublin being in receipt of a discretionary top up payment.

“Outside of Dublin, this top-up payment is capped at 20% with the average rate applied being 20%.

“What the Minister and Department must come to realise is that as the housing crisis drags on, they are creating the circumstances which would make the requirement of these private subsidies to landlords permanent.

“The average mortgage term in Ireland is 20 – 25 years, people who were in their late 30s or early 40s when this was first introduced in 2014 may well today face increased challenges accessing mortgage loans.

“More and more people will age into this cohort over the coming years as this government fails to deliver both on social housing and truly affordable homes.

“For many people, they traditionally get by on less during retirement with the difference in income being offset by the fact that their family home is paid off.

“This won’t be the case for a much greater multitude of people in the decades ahead.

“This government wants to raise your retirement because of a pensions crisis – their continued failure to deliver on housing may well be sleep-walking us into a situation whereby HAP for pensioners will become the norm.

“HAP is a poor substitute for social housing.

“This government seems ideologically opposed to the building of any housing unless the private sector can take an extortionate slice off the top.

“The solution is building public housing on public land.”

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