Yesterday, I raised with the Taoiseach the out-of-control cost of living and the never-ending price hikes that workers and families are forced to endure. I must say he came up very short in terms of a complete Government plan in respect of energy cost. It seems he is either unable or unwilling to grasp the scale of the crisis that hard-pressed households deal with every day. They know - even if the Taoiseach does not - a €100 credit will barely make a dent in their colossal energy bills.
I want to move on and ask the Taoiseach about another area that is driving the cost-of-living crisis. Rip-off rents continue to soar on his watch in Government. In fact, since Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael came together in 2016, rents have jumped by a colossal 46%. Last year alone rents increased by over 8%. Today the average rent is now over €1,300 a month and in Dublin the average is a staggering €1,916 per month, almost €2,000. This is extortionate. This has real consequences on people's lives. More than one third of young people in their mid to late 20s live at home with their parents. Homeownership rates are collapsing among those aged between 25 and 54, and is it any wonder? How on earth could anybody save the money for a deposit while forking out €2,000 a month to a landlord? That is before they deal with the sky-high cost of energy, fuel, groceries and, of course, childcare. It is little wonder that we hear stories from renters having to choose between putting food on the table or paying their electricity bill.
Generation rent, as they are called, is the generation cast aside by bad Government policies that continue to favour big landlords and institutional investors over the interests of those in housing need. The Taoiseach's approach is failing. His rent caps do not work for rent pressure zones and in counties where they do not apply, renters are left struggling with astronomical rises. Meanwhile, the Minister, Deputy Darragh O’Brien, delivered just 5% of the affordable rental homes promised for 2021. Just 25 affordable rental homes were delivered in a whole year. That is a serious failure when renters are being crucified and are crying out for quality accommodation with fair rents that will not break the bank.
The Government has to get real now. It is as simple as that. It needs to turn away from policies that have not worked and embrace those that will. Tá cíosanna as smacht ag cabhrú leis an ngéarchéim costais mhaireachtála a spreagadh. Tá teipthe ar chur chuige an Rialtais. Tá sé thar am €1,500 a chur ar ais i bpócaí cíosóirí tríd aisíoc cánach agus cosc a chur ar arduithe cíosa ar feadh trí bliana. Renters need a break and they need it now. What the Government needs to do is to put money back in renters’ pockets by means of a tax rebate and it needs to place a ban on rent increases for three years. It needs to do this with urgency because renters cannot wait any longer for the Government to act. Let us be clear: unless the Government takes these actions, we will see more people pushed into homelessness, more young and not so young people moving back home to live with their parents and home homeownership will remain a pipe dream for an entire generation.