FG’s flagship policy launched in 2016 to alleviate the housing crisis
has delivered just 10% of the number of homes promised
Figures obtained this month by Fianna Fáil Housing Spokesperson, Darragh O’Brien TD have exposed the low drawdown and abysmal delivery of much needed homes under the Local Infrastructure Housing Activation Fund (LIHAF).
To date, only €14m of the €200m allocated to this fund has been spent to provide 814 of the 8,000 homes that were promised as part of the fund outlined in the Rebuilding Ireland strategy which was announced almost three years ago.
O’Brien commented, “It might not make as many headlines as it previously has, but the crisis shortage of housing hasn’t gone away. The families living in hidden homelessness or in cramped hotel rooms and those forced to endure inhumane conditions living on the streets are all still suffering.
"In July 2016, Fine Gael launched the Rebuilding Ireland programme. The LIHAF formed a central aspect of their flagship policy to deliver affordable homes but it seems to be sinking under the weight of delays. It couldn’t be more blatantly apparent that the red tape surrounding the scheme is clogging up drawdowns hence the shockingly low rate of spending and delivery.
“Less than 10% of funding to provide less than 10% of the homes that were promised, in three years, is far from an efficient turnaround. In fact, the time lag between Government commitments and their delivery is compounding the housing crisis across the country.
“The fund is in need of comprehensive review to determine if it is even fit for purpose to address the housing emergency,” he concluded.
SUSI, the national student grant awarding body, has announced that its online application system for the 2019/20 academic year is now open, today 25th April.
As SUSI expects to receive up to 99,000 applications over the coming months students are advised to apply online through the SUSI website as soon as possible.
SUSI Communications and Information Services Manager, Aoife Greene advised, “Students should visit their website www.susi.ie and use their quick and easy online Eligibility Reckoner before making their application. This will give them an indication as to their eligibility for student grant funding. They can find all of the necessary information and advice on our website and social media, including videos and detailed guidance notes for making an application. We also have a responsive telephone and e-mail support desk that can deal with any queries students might have.
“It is important to remind students who are progressing to the next year of their course that they need to renew their grants annually and we have already e-mailed all of those students in the lead up to opening to inform them of the process for renewing. The priority closing date for making renewal applications is 13th June, 2019.
“In relation to new applicants, last year we had awarded over 80% of new applications by the end of September thus providing earlier certainty for students in making college choices and accepting place offers. Students do not need to have their leaving certificate results, or to have accepted a course in order to submit an application – they can simply provide details of the course they hope to study. Their course choices can be updated at a later stage directly in their online accounts if necessary and CAO also informs SUSI of college places accepted by students who have enabled CAO to inform SUSI of this. The priority closing date for new applications is 11th July, 2019.”
Aoife Greene added, “SUSI aims to continuously improve upon its service and we expect that over half of applicants will not be required to submit any documentation whatsoever in support of their application. For those students who are requested by SUSI to submit supporting documents, I would advise them to submit all requested documents together and as soon as possible and to contact the SUSI support desk if there will be a delay in returning certain documents.
“Students can track the progress of their own applications and confirm that documentation has been received through their SUSI Online Application Trackers. This is available by logging in to their individual SUSI account.
“SUSI aims to offer a fast, responsive and accessible path for students seeking grant support for their studies and we look forward to ensuring that students’ applications can be processed as smoothly and efficiently as possible for the upcoming academic year.”
Special investment fund due to be set up by last October remains unfinished
Information obtained by Fianna Fáil’s Spokesperson on Housing, Darragh O’Brien TD through Parliamentary Question this month reveals that a special investment fund to allow Credit Unions invest in social housing which due to be finalised by Government some seven months ago, is still not in place.
The Fingal TD said, “It’s been four years since the Irish Credit Union movement first expressed their interest in investing in social housing. As far back as May 2017, the Department of Housing funded an Irish Council for Social Housing project for a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV). It was over a year later when the Central Bank introduced regulatory changes that allowed up to €750m to be invested in large Social Housing bodies.
“Minister English indicated last September that the vehicle would be ready by October yet here we are and not a single cent of €750m has been invested. This sum could build roughly 3,750 much needed social homes. What is the Government’s issue with completing its roll out?
“We have neither seen nor heard of the details regarding the types of units that will be prioritised when building works eventually get going, let alone how it’s intended the vehicle will link into the overall Rebuilding Ireland strategy.
“The hands off attitude demonstrated by Government throughout this entire process shows us if we didn’t already know before now that it doesn’t give a hoot about the ordinary working families desperately in need of support to find a home.
“Fact is, Fine Gael are not remotely serious about attracting outsider finance or making the most of Credit Union money to help build badly needed social housing and we have to ask ourselves why that is”, concluded Deputy O’Brien.
Earlier this afternoon Fianna Fáil’s European candidate for Dublin, Barry Andrews lodged his nomination papers with the Dublin County Sheriff, Fergus Gallagher in advance of the European Parliament elections on Friday, May 24th.
Commenting from Cabra West this evening, Andrews said, “My campaign is well underway and it has been clear throughout my recent engagements that the interest in matters of European importance is stronger than ever across the Capital.
“Sustainable investment, an inclusive Dublin and digital responsibility form the basis of my campaign platform. At such an uncertain time in the European Union, Ireland needs strong, credible MEPs advocating for our interests in Brussels and Strasbourg. My job is to convince the people of Dublin that I am the best person to fulfill that important role. Our future is within Europe and it is essential that the voters of Dublin come out and have their say on the 24th of May.”
Director of Elections for Dublin, Darragh O'Brien TD added, "Fianna Fáil is determined to win back a seat for the party in Dublin, and I firmly believe that Barry Andrews will be a first class MEP for all the people of Dublin city and county. The nomination process is now complete and we will continue to fight a strong campaign over the next six weeks.”
- 7 Gardaí are to be added to Swords and Malahide stations by Easter -
- Greater resources in policing across DMR North are essential to clamp down on rise in anti-social behaviour -
Fianna Fáil TD for Dublin Fingal and Chairperson for the North Dublin Regional Drugs and Alcohol Task Force, Darragh O’Brien has said that the addition of three Gardaí in Swords and four in Malahide station this month will aid the ongoing work to deter criminality in the North County.
Commenting on the news, he said, “Councillor Eoghan O’Brien and I recently met with Chief Superintendent, Mark Curran and Superintendent, Gerry Donnelly to advance our campaign to restore Malahide Garda Station to a 24/7 service and to deliver additional policing resources to Fingal.
“I am pleased that a number of Gardaí have been assigned to Swords and Malahide and I welcome the appointment of our new Garda Inspector, Dermot McKenna, who has been assigned to the Malahide, Portmarnock & Kinsealy area. This is particularly positive news as it means that Inspector, Ollie Woods who is responsible for the Swords sub-district can now be relieved of having to divide his time between Swords and Malahide stations.
"I have been advised that a substantial number of additional Gardaí are to be stationed in the DMR North Division over the next eight months. I have detailed the importance of assigning these additional Gardaí across the North Dublin region and especially in towns such Donabate and Portrane where the Garda presence is still inadequate.
“Despite being assured that An Garda Síochána are actively considering fully restoring 24/7 operations at Malahide Garda Station and being long promised the reopening of Rush Garda Station, our campaign will continue until this happens and that the entire community across North County Dublin is adequately policed,” concluded. O’Brien.
Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Housing, Darragh O’Brien TD has said that the Government have allowed a situation where so called Cuckoo Funds are squeezing first time buyers out of the housing market.
It emerged today that almost 3,000 homes were purchased by these funds in 2018.
He commented, “These institutional investors are undoubtedly drawn to Ireland by the large rents and the favourable tax environment. Every indication points towards soaring rents in the coming years. Builders also are attracted by the large funds as they only have to negotiate one deal rather than a multitude if they were to negotiate with individual purchasers.
“The Government have allowed this situation to develop on their watch and they have done precious little to stop it. We are constantly being told by Government that more and more houses are being built and that we are on the road to meeting the targets set out in the Rebuilding Ireland plan. However, there is no use building extra properties when those properties are being sucked up by institutional investors. The Government once again has taken its eye off the ball and has failed to act.
“The effect has been quite profound. Potential first time buyers are not even getting a look in for many properties. The Central Bank rules make it very difficult for young couples and individuals, and when they have to go up against these investors, it is really a David and Goliath situation. These potential buyers then have to remain or go back into the rental sector thus pushing rents up again. It is a vicious cycle and it has to stop.
“It is certainly a challenging practice to curtail but there must be a serious look at the planning laws to compel builders to sell to first time buyers. The Government needs to assess the options within the planning laws that can restrict these funds from buying up 100% of the properties on sale for any given development.
“If we are going to do everything we can for first time buyers then we cannot allow the current trend to continue. The Government cannot permit a situation where hardworking individuals and couples who have done everything right are seeing their hope of owning a family home being trampled on by these large so called Cuckoo Funds”, concluded O’Brien.