#RebootPod: Ireland’s housing problem from a sustainability point of view

If you haven’t heard the #RebootPod podcast and you think policy actually counts, you should. It’s co-hosted by Dublin based Rory Hearn and Tony Groves and is focused on seeking solutions, rather than restating old misery.

They started with Mick Byrne, who lectures in political economy at the School of Social Policy, Social Work and Social Justice, University College Dublin with a focus on what is needed to break the negative cycle in housing.

Mick’s premise: Irish politicians and policymakers lack understanding of how housing works and (perhaps more damagingly) they’re captured by a flawed narrative that the market can remove the whole problem from the state’s inbox.

The tenant purchase scheme is Ireland’s earlier (1966) rendering of the UK’s right to buy. Two years ago Mick wrote  that between 1997 and 2006, over 43% of new building was lost through tenant purchase, and between 2011 and 2014, 94%.

He adds:

Tenant purchase means that when it comes to investment in social housing, we are always running to stand still.

The assumption originates in UK housing reforms of the 1980s. Rather than directly funding house building, the focus shifted to subbing people in housing need. The UK now shells out an estimated £25 billion in Housing Benefit alone.

When your policy funnels public revenues into an overheating housing market it fuels both public and private indebtedness in the long-term. The latent cost has knock-on effects that can severely impair national productivity.

As pointed out in the podcast, when credit was no object, the annual house build rate was measured in 100s of thousands. It’s not hard to do, but the credit boom has led to a credit bust which means that seam is likely played out.

Anyhoo, do listen to the whole lot:



Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty