Public housing must be centrepiece of Budget 2019

unite-white-out-of-redUnite calls for broadening of tax base, massive investment in public housing

October 7th: Unite today issued a Pre-Budget Comment outlining the union’s priorities for Budget 2019.  Pointing out that the Government has not only declined to use all its available fiscal space but also proposes to set aside €500 million this year for a so-called rainy day fund, Unite’s Senior Officer in the Republic, Brendan Ogle, said that “the rainy day is already here for tens of thousands of people in housing need”.

“A public emergency requires a public solution, and Unite is calling for a nationwide mixed-income universal public housing system based on the cost rental model.    By contrast, the Government’s preferred market-led model of ‘social housing’ is aimed at benefitting  the private rental sector rather than dealing with the emergency, with state subsidies to private landlords set to reach €1 billion by 2021.

“Unite is very clear:  social housing is about tinkering with a broken system. Public housing is about reforming and changing the system.

“Investment not only in housing, but in other vital public services including health and early education, is vital if we are to future-proof and Brexit-proof both our economy and society. An economy built around wage deflation and property price inflation will always be destined for crisis.

“This Government and its predecessor have pursued a tax-cutting agenda while going beyond the EU fiscal rules.  Now, Minister Donohoe proposes stashing €500 million this year in a rainy day fund – despite the fact that the rainy day is already here for tens of thousands of people in housing need.

“The rainy day is also here for low-paid workers whose wages are not keeping pace with spiralling housing costs and who cannot depend on an adequate social wage – not only public services, but also increased in-work and social protection income supports – to bridge the decency gap.

“Unite and the trade union movement will measure Budget 2019 on how it delivers for working people”, Mr Ogle concluded.

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