26 October 2006 Edition

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Report shouldn't be excuse for social housing cutbacks

Sinn Féin Social and Family Affairs spokesperson Seán Crowe TD, responding to the publication of the ESRI report on the Ex-ante Priorities for the National Development Plan 2007 - 2013, said that the report must not be used by Government as a pretext for cutbacks in social and affordable housing provision. He called on the Minister for Finance Brian Cowen to introduce tax changes to reduce demand from investors in the property market.

The Dublin South West TD said: "The ESRI report on the Ex-ante Priorities for the National Development Plan 2007 - 2013 must not be used by the Government as a pretext for cutbacks in social and affordable housing provision.

"The ESRI report recommended that in the absence of measures that reduce the private demand for construction output, expenditure on social and affordable housing should be reduced. However, importantly, the report states 'the best approach would be to use the tax system to reduce private sector demand for the output of the building sector allowing the public sector to buy the necessary infrastructure at reasonable cost.'

"Clearly at a time when families are facing an uphill struggle to secure housing, when large proportions of the workforce are priced out of the housing market and while in excess of 43,000 families remain on social housing waiting lists, cutbacks in terms of social and affordable housing are not an option. Measures which reduce demand from those purchasing second and subsequent homes for investment must now be put at the top of the Government's agenda.

"A tax on second, and subsequent, homes, as advocated by Sinn Féin, is one such measure. Another would be to increase capital gains tax to provide a disincentive to those who are seeking to invest in property purely to make profit, as opposed to those seeking to secure a home for themselves and their families. Competition from investors is pushing first time buyers out of the housing market and is fuelling the excessive and unsustainable growth of the construction sector.

"The ESRI goes on to say that 'if measures were taken to reduce private sector demand, then this cutback would not be necessary and a better balance between private and social housing could be achieved.' Sinn Féin is demanding that Brian Cowen act to curb private investor-led demand in the building and construction sector.

"The Government must take note of the recommendations in the report in relation to increasing acute hospital beds and for a substantial increase in state supported childcare places."


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