This morning, the Economic and Social Research Institute, ESRI, released an important paper on the impact of Covid-19 on the housing supply. It argues that the pandemic will result in a drop in the private sector supply of new homes. This will further widen the gap between supply and demand, making housing even more unaffordable for working people. The ESRI's central recommendation is commonsensical and crystal clear - the State must increase the supply of social and affordable homes. This is the only way to deliver homes more cheaply and efficiently.
Yesterday, the Residential Tenancies Board, RTB, published its latest rent report. Despite Covid-19, rents remain unacceptably high. Throughout the State, they have risen by almost 2% since last June. Outside Dublin and the commuter belt, the increase was in excess of 3%. Too many people are trapped in a rental market with sky-high prices. They are put to the pin of their collars with extortionate rents stifling their potential and impacting on their ability to deal with the pandemic.
Last month, Daft.ie released its latest price report. Now, the average house price in Dublin is a staggering €380,000. Even a couple on good incomes are unable to afford a home in Dublin at such prices.
Gheall an Taoiseach go gcuirfeadh an Rialtas seo tithe inacmhainne ar fáil do dhaoine atá ag obair. Le linn an toghcháin i bhFeabhra, ba í an tithíocht an cheist ba mhó a bhí ann. Tá an iomarca daoine gafa i margadh cíosa le praghsanna ag ardú i gcónaí. The Taoiseach promised that the Government would deliver affordable homes for working people. During the election in February, housing was the main issue on the doorstep. People were crying out for affordable homes, with families left behind because of the failure of successive Governments to deliver.
If we ever needed a reminder of the importance of a stable roof over our heads, the pandemic has provided it. During the pandemic, people's homes have truly become their sanctuaries. If the Ireland that emerges after this crisis is to be in any way fair and one that gives people a decent chance and a fresh start, we have to get housing right. Decent, affordable and secure housing is the bedrock on which decent lives are built.
Despite all of the promises made by Fianna Fáil during the election, the sluggish approach of the Government to get to grips with housing is astonishing. The Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government, Deputy Darragh O'Brien, spent the entire summer telling everyone that the Government's housing plan was on the way. On 7 July, he said that he would announce details of the new affordable scheme in September. On 9 July, he reiterated this on Newstalk and said that new affordable housing regulations would be ready to launch by September. On 12 July, he told thejournal.ie that new affordable home targets would be set out in September. Speaking in opposition to our motion on affordable housing in July, he again promised to announce the details of his new scheme in September.
Today is the last day of September. Hundreds of thousands of working people want to know where the Government's affordable housing plan is and why the Minister has not kept his and the Taoiseach's promise to launch the plan this month.