Failure to raise thresholds in most counties means more and more households will be driven into crisis situations
People Before Profit TD and Housing spokesperson, Richard Boyd Barrett, has accused Minister Darragh O’Brien of broken promises as it becomes clear that the long-awaited review of social housing income limits is resulting in increases in only five counties.
For several years Deputy Boyd Barrett has been calling on the government to increase the income eligibility limits for social housing, which have remained static for a decade. This has resulted in large numbers of households in need of social housing being removed from the social housing list because their income crept slightly over the income threshold.
In a paper produced earlier this summer, the ESRI estimated that the proportion of households entitled to apply for social housing or social housing support had dropped from 46.8% in 2011 to 33.9% in 2019 – a drop of more than 25% in the share of households entitled to social housing.
According to Deputy Boyd Barrett: “The number of households who have been removed from the housing list and the proportion of households being denied the right to apply for social housing or social housing support has risen even more dramatically over the last couple of years – amounting to a nasty under the radar but very substantial cut in the numbers eligible for social housing support, at a time when more households than ever actually need that support.
“The government broke a promise made earlier this year to announce increases in the income threshold before the Dáil summer recess and now it transpires that only five counties will see income limit increases. This disgraceful move leaves thousands of people on low and middle incomes completely shafted.
“It seems in Westmeath, Carlow and three other counties that the limits have been raised from €25,000 to €30,0000, which will of course be welcome by people who live there but for the rest of the country the 2011 limits seem to be staying.
“This is completely unacceptable and utterly inadequate. The Minister must immediately go back to the drawing board and increase limits all across the country to ensure social housing support for all the households who need it and particularly in the epi-centres of the housing crisis, such as Dublin, Cork and the big urban centres.
“I will also be calling for him to publish the review so that we can all scrutinise the results.
“Currently in Dublin a couple with one child has to take home less than €37,000 to be eligible for social housing. This leaves thousands of low paid workers and low- and middle-income households with no access to any housing supports at all and no chance of ever buying a house of their own.
“Social housing income limits have not been raised since 2011. People Before Profit have been calling on the current Minister for Housing and previous ministers to increase these limits as a matter of urgency.
“Finally, last Autumn Minister Darragh O’Brien announced that he was conducting a review. The results of this review have been on his desk for over 8 months now and yet in the majority of counties, and particularly in the areas worst hit by the housing crisis there will be no change to thresholds. So we will be going to see an already dire housing crisis get even worse leading to more and more desperate households in need of housing support being denied it.
“Every week more and more people are being removed from the list for being a couple of euro over the limit and when this happens, they lose access to any supports at all.
“The Minister must now come clean and announce the details of entire national review and ensure that all those households that cannot afford the extortionate rents and house-prices in the private market get their entitlement to social housing or at least social housing support.”