Rent supplement is in the crosshairs


Everyone who wants to see rent allowance redirected towards the building of new public housing has to answer this question: how do the current recipients of rent allowance pay their housing costs once you take it away?
The fact of that matter is this, rent supplements are common place all over the OECD for low income households, even ones with much larger social housing systems than Ireland has.
And Ireland will not have enough social housing anytime soon to house all those people who cannot maintain accommodation in the private system without financial assistance.


The solutions of the 1930s to the 1980s should be dead - but they’re not - because the problems that they set out to solve are back with us (maybe they never left). Social housing was put in place to solve two specific problems:

  1. The existing rental stock was inadequate - overcrowded, poor quality and unsafe
  2. The private sector was not willing/able to build houses fast enough to meet the need to replace this stock and to increase this stock in a rising population
  3. Rents in the private sector were rising and governments were fearful of pressure on wages

Social housing as a concept did not originate as political dogma. In fact many businesses (Guinness in Ireland, Cadbury and Lever in the UK) provided high quality workers housing to help the productivity of the workers long before it became a political issue. If you listen to the workplace conversations at the moment a hugely disproportionate part of them relates to housing - availability, price and most often the depressing quality of the product on offer. As I’ve pointed out before it is a huge issue with employers - particularly those with significant levels of low paid jobs ( e.g. the state and the IT industry - the content watchers in Google and Facebook). It seems that the private sector is willing to supply only commercial (particularly office) development and build to let (e.g. student accomodation and for REITs - both of which are primarily driven by Government action - i.e. taxpayer funding in the form of foregone taxation).

There is an attempt (and it seems to be successful) to create a narrative that social housing is for the idle poor rather than for the working poor. This suits a government unwilling to invest in social housing - the idea is to attach a stigma to social housing that means that nobody wants it built near them and that nobody will seek it as they do not wish to be viewed as being in that group of society. The problem is that there are a huge proportion of the working poor who struggle to obtain housing and we, the tax payers, end up paying over the odds for inadequate and sometimes dangerous accomodation because of a failure in the private sector. They, and their employers, are now demanding better so it has now become a political issue. I have no problem with the private sector being the sole provider of housing if it does its job - but it’s not, and hasn’t been doing so for most of the last decade - it is now way past time for the state to step in.

The increase in population in Dublin is not mainly asylum seekers (there are about 3000 per year) it is primarily workers, either EU citizens or others with visas sought for them by employers. Migration is a consequence of the globalization of capital - people follow the money. If you think immigration is a problem then it is a consequence of the economic policies that the West has pursued since the 1980s which have led to the concentration of wealth in a smaller and smaller number of countries and in a smaller and smaller group of people within these countries.


I agree with parts of this but it’s still skewed by ideology. The private sector’s only job is to make a profit within the confines of the rules the State sets. I agree that society allows private companies to externalise a lot of their costs - paying staff less than reasonable pay in the knowledge the State will support their accommodation costs. But It isn’t the construction industry’s job to house poorly paid staff. The construction industry operates within a planning framework (Dogmatic SDZs) and building standard framework set by the state, it has been granted exemptions by the state that have had the effect of discouraging development (the CGT holiday ), the State took the Nama stock and sold it in bulk to private landlords. These are all state actions.

On stigma about social housing. It isn’t a matter of mere reputation. It’s about human experience. The aspiration of many council housing dwellers from the 30s to the 80s was to get the hell out of there. Their experience trumps your labelling about social problems around council housing being mere stigma.

On migration what’s needed is honesty in the commentariat about its impact on the indigenous population. It’s not a one sided bet.


The Scale and Impact of the Local Authority Rent Subsidy


This paper examines the targeting of rent subsidies among local authority tenant households.

Using microdata from the SILC survey over the period 2006 to 2015, the distributions of household rents and incomes are examined and the targeting of the local authority rental subsidy is assessed. Using propensity score matching, estimates are made of the impact of the rental subsidy on households and on the income distribution. The potential impacts on the income distribution of alternative rent subsidy mechanisms are assessed.

The paper finds that the subsidisation of the rental costs paid by local authority tenants decreases income inequality, when housing costs are taken into account. Also evident is the poor targeting of rental subsidies; counter-factual scenarios in which local authority rental subsidies are directed to a greater degree towards lower income households are shown to reduce income inequality.



No surprise at that 1bn figure. Those on HAP can literally get whatever they want from the Dept, even outbidding other potential tenants, so desperate are the Govt to keep the ‘homeless’ numbers down.