Government ‘hiding true scale’ of social housing crisis

The Government has been accused of deliberately hiding the “true scale” of Ireland’s social housing crisis, after it emerged its figures are two years out of date and underestimate real waiting lists by 45%.

Fianna Fáil environment spokesman Barry Cowen made the claim after obtaining figures from every local authority showing 130,008 people are on waiting lists for homes, 40,346 more than Government claims.

The opposition TD alleged the crisis — which he said could be affecting as many as 300,000 people when families and children are taken into account — is being hidden by Environment Minister Alan Kelly, who is basing official responses on figures two years out of date.

However, Mr Kelly’s spokesperson last night said the gap is because the Government figures are from the 2013 housing needs assessment report, a three-yearly document which is the “most comprehensive” explanation of national housing needs, adding: “If we were hiding figures, how could he [Mr Cowen] find them?”

According to the Fianna Fáil FoI Act figures, available at irishexaminer.com:

  • 130,008 people are on social housing wait lists, 45% more than the official 89,662 rate;
  • The biggest 2013-2015 percentage surges are in Roscommon (157%), Longford (105%), and Mayo (100%);
  • Cork county (48%), Cork City (24.89%), Clare (65%), Limerick (52%), Waterford, (45%), and Kerry (19.7%) lists have all risen;
  • No local authority has seen any drop.

However, Mr Kelly’s spokesperson said local authority rates may include people who are on multiple lists and others who have found homes.

The spokesperson said previous environment minister Jan O’Sullivan decided to replace the three-year “comprehensive” housing report with an annual version from next year, but did not clarify if this will be out before or after the election.

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