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Almost €700m spent on rent subsidies to private landlords in 2018 – Ó Broin

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Sinn Féin Housing spokesperson Eoin Ó Broin can today reveal that Government spent €695,346,000 on various rent subsidy schemes in 2018. The figures, described by the Dublin Mid-West TD as ‘staggering’, were released to Deputy Ó Broin last night in parliamentary questions from the Department of Social Protection and Department of Housing.

Deputy Ó Broin said:

“In 2018, Government spent a staggering €695,346,000 in rent subsidies to private landlords and property owners. This colossal sum was paid to house 98,345 households across four schemes administered by two government departments.

“The Department of Social Protection spent €175,340,000 on private landlords for 24,303 tenancies on the Rent Supplement Scheme.

“The Department of Housing spent €100,400,000 housing 11,684 households in long term leased properties on the Social Housing Current Expenditure Programme. It spent a further €143,340,000 to house 18,915 households in four year Rental Accommodation Scheme leases.

“The largest area of expenditure was through the Housing Assistance Payment Scheme which cost €276,600,000 to house 43,443 households in short term two year leases.

“This is a massive transfer of public money to private landlords. It represents bad value for money for the taxpayer as well as the ‘casualisation’ of social housing into short term insecure tenancies that are bad for tenants and for communities.

“2019 will see a significant increase in the overall cost of private rental subsidies as the budget for HAP has been increased to €422,729,000. While Rent Supplement costs should fall, this will be offset by expected rises in RAS and SCHEP expenditure. This will bring the total cost of rent subsidies close to €900,000,000 by the end of this year.

“To put this into perspective, the total budget allocation to Local Authorities to build and buy new Council homes in 2018 was €561,670,000 almost 20% less than paid out to private landlords.

“While rental subsidies for low income households are an important part of any stable housing system, they should be short term and declining in number and cost. Instead, what the latest figures highlight is Fine Gael’s over reliance on the private rental sector to meet long term housing need while at the same time underinvesting in real social housing.

“This policy must be urgently reviewed and a plan put in place to reduce the number of subsidised social housing tenancies in the private rental sector. This can only be achieved through a significant increase in the capital budget to local authorities and approved housing bodies to build and buy permanent social homes.”

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