Tax on social housing unjust, says charity

A leading housing charity has slammed as “unjust and inequitable” the decision by the Government to impose the local property tax on social housing organisations.

Respond! Housing Association said the new tax could jeopardise the future of housing charities throughout the country which provide accommodation for low-income and vulnerable families.

It also claimed the move is short-sighted and could have long-term negative consequences on the future of social housing.

Spokeswoman Aoife Walsh said imposing the local property tax on social housing organisations is unjust and inequitable given the role played by housing associations in meeting accommodation needs of the most vulnerable members of society.

“Housing associations, along with local authorities, provide housing for low-income families and those unable to do so from their own resources. Funding for the sector has been dramatically reduced in the past five years with the almost total withdrawal of capital funding for new social housing,” Ms Walsh said.

“Instead of supporting the social housing sector to meet the needs of 100,000 families on local authority waiting lists throughout the country, the Government instead has now threatened the financial viability of the sector by imposing this tax.

“This step is foolish, ill-conceived, and must be reversed immediately.”

Ms Walsh said Respond! was shocked at the inclusion of the social housing sector in the local property tax given social housing organisations and local authorities were exempt from this year’s household charge.

In its pre-budget submission, Respond! had called for the sector to be exempt from the tax. Ms Walsh said she was “dismayed” the Government did not take it on board.

“Virtually all property tax systems in Europe grant exemptions for non-government organisations providing social services and Ireland should be no different,” she said.

“The imposition of this yearly tax could seriously compromise the ability of housing associations to properly manage and maintain their housing stock, as well as provide additional services to residents. These services are crucial in disadvantaged communities and their removal would have disastrous consequences.”

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