While the long-range housing plans to build 47,000 houses by 2021 are very welcome, they will make only a small dent in the current waiting lists. What is needed are the financial resources to get local authorities to start building social housing because we cannot continue to rely exclusively on the private rented sector.
Unfortunately, the Governments budgetary measures are not addressing the needs of those requiring loans. We look at the deposit situation. Who can rent and at the same time save the level of deposit that is needed on what Social Justice Ireland reckons is the median salary of €36,000 a year, but which the Minister reckons is €70,000 a year? The crippling rents being paid in the private sector are preventing people saving. Many people are paying a rent equivalent to, if not more, than they would pay for a mortgage. We are paying lip service to the principle of rent certainty because rents are increasing. Some suggest they are increasing at a rate of up to 40%. Telling people who face this rent increase, even though rents are not supposed to be increasing, to take their issues to the PRTB, is not the answer at all. Serious issues are being raised by economists and stockbrokers in relation to the section 8 first-time buyers scheme. They expect house prices to rise by 7% rather than by 5%. It is unfortunate where the Minister has tried to do something, but we all know about the law of unintended consequences.
There is an impetus on student accommodation. I see it in Dublin Central where considerable building is going on. There is more that will start. There was an announcement just this week of plans for the docklands. Part of the rationale is that there is a shortage of student accommodation which means that students are taking up much-needed private rented accommodation. Therefore, if students can be moved out of the private rented sector, it would free up accommodation for families, couples and single individuals. While that is fair enough, I wish the urgency I see in Dublin Central to build student accommodation could be applied to the building of social housing. We need building companies, developers and the private sector and they are entitled to make a profit, however, the Government must apply learned lessons from the excesses of recent years.