Labour leader calls for stronger antisocial policies

by Rachel Cunningham
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Rachel Cunningham

The Labour leader has called on the government to take stronger action to tackle vacancy and dereliction.

Speaking in the Dáil last Saturday, July 15, Ivana Bacik said: “While official figures understate the true scale of the problem, we know that nearly 200,000 homes, including seasonal holiday homes, lie vacant or derelict at any one time here in Ireland.

“A scandalous 37,000 homes have lain vacant since 2016. This should offend us all at a time when 12,441 people are recorded as homeless and 150,0000 full time workers aged 25-34 are stuck living at home with their parents.”

The spokesperson on housing said this must be tackled to bring Ireland’s urban centres back to life and to address the housing disaster.

She called for local authorities to be resourced to compulsorily purchase vacant properties.

“The government has implemented a vacant homes tax of three times the local property tax, that is welcome. However, it does not go far enough.

“For bigger, corporate owners who are speculating on property, taxation is not enough. We in Labour would introduce a ‘use it or lose it rule’ for uncommenced planning permissions and vacant property.

There are 30,000 such planning permissions in the Dublin City Council area alone.”

The Labour leader called for the party’s Acquisition of Development Land (Assessment of Compensation) Bill 2021 to be passed by the government, claiming that it would limit financial speculation on land by implementing the Kenny Report.

“There needs to be a step-change in housing provision. Our population is growing but housing supply does not even meet current need.

“As part of our Labour plan for one million homes in ten years, I have called on the government to commit to refurbishing and retrofitting 50,000 homes per year.

“We need skilled workers to carry out this vital work. More construction skills must be added to the Critical Skills Employment Permit. So many people I speak to are shocked to learn that these skills are not already the subject of an aggressive international recruitment campaign, given the scale of the housing crisis,” she added.

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