Mayo Oireachtas member concerned housing crisis 'is getting worse and worse'

Many things have been tried over the past ten years but the housing crisis seems to get worse and worse, according to a Mayo Oireachtas member.

Senator Paddy Burke said when John Gormley served as Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government dezoned a great deal of land.

He elaborated: "The result of this has been that, in some cases, there is now no land available.

"It takes a long period to get county development plans in place and that has held up supply in some cases.

"There are many reasons why housing is so scarce.

"In my view, it is down to financial matters and zoning. Either people are not earning enough money or houses are too expensive.

"Building a house costs too much. We have to look at the costs involved.

"If they are too great, people cannot get the required deposit or loan because of the level of their earnings. It is a chicken-and-egg situation.

"With the new building regulations, the specifications have been set so high that the resultant costs relating to houses are enormous.

"While the running costs of houses are much less than they were in the case of older dwellings from the point of view of heating and electricity, the initial cost compared with what people are earning is the stumbling block.

"If people are renting, they are paying too much out of their incomes and cannot save to get a deposit to buy a house. Again, it is a chicken-and-egg situation. Many schemes have been put forward.

"When I was a member of Mayo County Council in the 1980s, there was no housing crisis.

"There was a recession but the government of the day took on responsibility for building local authority houses.

"All of the local authorities built a considerable number of houses with the result that there was no one in Ireland who did not have a house at the end of the 1980s.

"For some reason, the local authorities seem to have pulled back from building houses. They are building, but not to any great degree in comparison with the 1980s.

"I agree we need to look at taxation policy. Either we have to reduce the level of VAT relating to building houses or make changes in the context of rental income.

"Vulture funds are paying limited tax but a person with one or two apartments or a small developer with one or two units for rent is paying 50% tax on the rental income. The system is not equal."