Band-Aid Cure for Housing Crisis Just Won’t Wash

It has been said that most of us would rather be ruined by praise than saved by criticism. If you happen to be in government, chances are you won’t succumb to the first of these fates. The temperature at the Dáil may have been chilly as the heating won’t be turned on until next Monday, but the predictably heated exchanges during the 2023 budget debate meant no one felt the chill. But for all the energy, little new light has been shed on key issues.

The government was pretty confident that they had done a good job of giving people back the money they earned. But just about everyone else in the chamber was equally convinced that wasn’t the case.

Union leader Ivana Bacik claimed the budget’s terms were so spread out that a mini-budget would be needed early next year.

Sinn Féin CEO Mary Lou McDonald said there was a real risk the proposed rent credits would lead to rent increases.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin claimed that Sinn Féin’s rental tax credit figures were mismatched. But Ms McDonald had none of it.

The government has “leaved the door open to more rent increases, more exploitation and more hardship,” she said.

The government has also been adamant that the budget is the necessary response to an unpredictable, rapidly evolving situation.

Despite deafening claims to the contrary, Mr Martin insisted that when the various measures were combined, the three lowest-income groups received the highest amount. Then came fears from backbenchers that the €80 million levy on the sale of concrete products would drive up housing costs even further.

If the opposition had hoped for bloodshed, they might have had better luck directing their fire at what the government had not done. After all, the price of power is responsibility.

The government has been open to attack because it has not committed to significantly increasing housing supply or addressing shortages, which have been the burning problem for at least a generation.

Throwing money at rents is, at best, a short-term approach in the face of a long-term problem.

Providing more housing is the only answer to the housing shortage; until that is done, anything else will be seen as a stick-a-band solution.

An example of this is revealed today in the review of the Help-to-Buy housing program.

The review advised scrapping it. It was deemed worthless and poorly targeted.

Conducted by financial advisory firm Mazars, it still proposed a two-year extension, but with modifications. However, the government decided to continue without the changes for two years.

The Coalition can claim to have played as good a hand as possible given the cards they were dealt after a series of extraordinary events.

But the housing crisis and the tremendous pressure it is putting on families don’t come out of the blue. People can accept that there may not be a quick fix in sight, but that is far from accepting no fix at all.

https://www.independent.ie/opinion/editorial/sticking-plaster-remedy-for-housing-crisis-just-wont-wash-42025229.html Band-Aid Cure for Housing Crisis Just Won’t Wash

Fry Electronics Team

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