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- PublicationThe Future of Council Housing An analysis of the financial sustainability of local authority provided social housingFor most of the period since social housing was first built in Ireland in the late 19th Century, local authorities have been its main providers. Local authorities have provided 365,350 council houses and flats since then and these dwellings accounted for 22.2% of the total Irish housing stock in 2016. These dwellings have made a major contribution to providing affordable, good-quality and secure accommodation for low-income households, and also to improving the quality and increasing the size of the Irish housing stock. The last three decades have seen a significant reduction in the traditional role of council housing as the primary source of accommodation for low-income renters however. In 1994, council housing tenants accounted for 73.2% of the low-income renting households in receipt of government housing supports. By 2016, this had fallen to just 53%. In part, this development reflects the decline in council housing output following the sharp contraction in the funding available to this sector after the economic crisis commenced in the late 2000s. Total public funding for new council housing fell by 94% between 2008 and 2013. It also reflects longer term factors such the tradition of selling council housing to tenants which dates back to the 1930s. In addition since the 1980s governments have relied increasingly on other sources of housing for low-income households. These include: not-for-profit sector approved housing bodies (AHBs) and government subsidies for private rented housing such as Rent Supplement and Housing Assistance Payment (HAP).
- PublicationFunding incentives, disincentives and vulnerabilities in the Irish council housing sectorThis article examines the incentives and vulnerabilities generated by arrangements for funding local government-provided social housing in Ireland (aka council housing). These arrangements are unusual in a Western European context because the capital costs of providing this housing are almost entirely covered by central government grants, rather than non-governmental debt finance as is the norm elsewhere. Furthermore, no housing allowances are provided to council tenants in Ireland; rather affordability is ensured by charging rents which are linked (progressively) to tenants’ incomes. Although the character and development of Irish council housing has of course been shaped by macro level political, ideological, social and economic factors, the argument offered here is that funding arrangements have also exerted a strong independent influence. These arrangements render Irish council housing more vulnerable to retrenchment and residualization than the social housing funding arrangements used in most other Western European countries.