Providing a financial incentive to landlords for accepting tenants on the Housing Assistance Payment is a radical proposal from the Society of St. Vincent de Paul (SVP) in its Budget 2016 submission launched today.
It is one of a number of proposals from SVP to help tackle the chronic lack of supply of social houses and private rented accommodation for the people it assists. A condition for receipt of financial incentives should be that the quality of private rented accommodation is improved, for example improvements in energy efficiency. SVP is also seeking an immediate increase in area-based Rent Supplement limits to realistic levels as a temporary homelessness preventive measure.
In relation to social housing SVP calls on Government to deliver on its targets in Social Housing 2020. SVP is concerned that the targets in relation to new social housing supply promised by the Government for 2015 will not be realised. SVP is also concerned that the social housing supply to be delivered by 2020 will not meet the level of housing need in Ireland. SVP wants a review in early 2016 of the housing delivery to date against the targets and in light of the 2016 assessment of housing need, which is to be undertaken by the Department of the Environment.
In its pre-budget submission entitled "Investing in what matters", SVP says that while it welcomes the reduced unemployment figures, Ireland is not close to its policy goal of 'making work pay' for people whose earnings potential is relatively low. “Wages and welfare supports are crucial – but so are affordable, quality services,” says SVP.
“Early childhood care and education, as well as after school care provision, are totally inadequate and too expensive for people on lower incomes. This is particularly true for one parent families currently being required by Government to take up employment or increase their working hours. In addition private rented housing is incredibly expensive in main urban areas where most employment is located, both relative to incomes and relative to the wider European experience.” it says.
In the area of early childhood care and education SVP is seeking an extension of the Community Childcare Subvention to all early year services, both community and private. An extension of the current universal Early Childhood Care and Education programme to 3 hours per day, 5 days a week, from 38 weeks to 48 weeks per year is also called for.
SVP is an active on-the-ground advocate for affordable energy, and in helping families tackle energy poverty it has spent over €46m in direct assistance from 2009 to 2013. In its Budget 2016 submission it is seeking to have the eligibility criteria and funding target for the Warmer Homes scheme and Sustainable Energy Communities Programme to be widened to target low-income households.
But the Society believes that here is no political will to make real change in how we allocate resources that will give an equal opportunity to all our citizens.
“Government should invest in a level and type of social provision that will ensure greater participation for low income households in the economic recovery, and break the cycle of poverty and inter-generational disadvantage facing many people we assist, says SVP.
"Long term sustained investment in public services is essential if Ireland is serious about tackling inequality, reducing poverty traps, achieving positive health and well-being outcomes for people and encouraging access to work. We need to invest wisely in early childhood care and education, social housing and warmer homes. We need to invest in what matters." it says.
Full submission available at www.svp.ie/whatmatters2016