Plea to Labour TDs to Immediately Halt the Passage of New Housing Law
Three TDs have joined forces to call on the Labour Party to urgently reconsider their support for Section 37 of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2014, which will force families in need of long term housing assistance off Council Housing lists, and urged Government backbench TDs to intervene to stop the decimation of social housing provision in this country.
Independent TDs Catherine Murphy, Róisín Shortall and Tommy Broughan all spoke of their dismay at the provisions of this Bill.
While many of the provisions of the Bill are welcome, one section replaces Rent Supplement with a new payment called the Housing Assistance Payment. However moving on to this payment will entail being taken off the housing list, meaning that, essentially, people will have to abandon all hopes of being allocated Council housing. In effect, the Government is washing its hands of any responsibility to people seeking housing once they go onto this new payment. It is a cynical attempt to massage the housing list figures while leaving many thousands of people to the mercy of the private rented sector.
Providing a decent public housing building programme for those who cannot afford to buy is a key responsibility of Government. But this legislation represents a complete abdication by Government of that role.
Someone in Labour needs to look closely at Labour values and really think about whether they can reconcile those values with this legislation. It can’t be done. This is a seminal moment for social housing in this country and if Labour allows this Bill to pass without removing section 37 they have completely abandoned any pretence of social justice.