General Election - Housing Manifestos

As one of the main discussion points in politics in general in the current climate and one of the focal points of the General Election, the “Homeless Crisis” that is constantly in the news is one of the main things that somewhat keeps me interested in the upcoming election. So rather than being buried in the general thread where half the talk is on housing anyway, I thought a separate discussion point might suit it better. I have a vested interest in construction generally and was involved in a recent report on cost of construction of housing and viability of cost of housing, so with a meeting cancelled this morning I had some time to kill so decided to read the manifestos of all the major parties and see are they all spoofing or is there actually anything of any worth that may indeed make a difference.

As a point of note, I have zero party affiliation and would be considered a floating voter. I’m not a particular fan of the two leading parties but nor can I dismiss them out of hand either. Similarly, my initial impressions of next in line Sinn Fein is that they live in a dreamland with magic money trees. Labour are a shambles and the Green Party have unrealistic ideologies. So with a disdain for pretty much every political parties and TDs in general, I have no bias for any party and looked at all of these as best I could.

Further note. I’ve wrote an awful lot more on this than I thought I would. A meeting I was to go to was cancelled so I had a spare 2 hours so wrote shite on this rather than on more pressing matters of sack Klopp/Keep Ole and how the Niners will hammer into the Chiefs. So well done to anyone who actually reads all of this.

Fine Gael.

A fairly detailed and comprehensive housing policy. “A housing system with the citizen at the centre” is how they lead off. Their main focus is on 25,000 new houses per annum, rising to 35,000 in the years thereafter, but no mention for how long. One thin they do include is that the housing is built in locations with access to employment and public transport.

So, the one thing that could be for or against Fine Gael is that they have been the ones with control and ability to implement these plans. So the main implementation of their strategic planning was the Project Ireland 2040, which started in 2018 with the housing figures as noted above. So, did they fulfil their promise? Not really. They claim they want to build 25,000 new homes. So is it a case they count private housing and developments or are they claiming the 25,000 new homes will all be government funded? In 2018, just over 18,000 new homes were built between developments, apartments and one off housing. I’m not sure the government or Fine Gael can count someone building their own home as a one of their contributory figures. It is good that the housing building by people themselves whether through private development or self build is back increasing in large numbers again, and in fairness, the increase in the economy generally is a factor which Fine Gael were part of its recovery, however in this specific instance of housing crisis, I don’t believe the use of private or self build should really be a factor for them to crow about.

In 2019, statistics on new builds completed were all up by a decent percentage on the previous years statistics. So there absolutely is an increase in the volume of houses being completed, new houses, not renovated or refurbished units, but actual new builds. Whatever Fine Gael may be accused of or have a stick to beat them with, they are overseeing an increase to the construction market for new builds.

So, back to their manifesto. Is it achievable? It depends. They claim they want “Plan led, not developer led” however the majority of units being built are currently developer led. The do clarify later that they anticipate 25,000 homes being built in 2019 (which probably wont be met) so they are obviously including all types of development, not just state developments, and that they want to ensure that the building sector produces 25-35k houses per annum. In fairness, it would be completely unfeasible to try think that a government could produce these figures on their own.

So what are they doing for those most vulnerable, the ones the homeless crisis actually affects? Budget 2019 included measures to produce 6,200 Local Authority houses over the next 3 years. 2,000 per year, so this does show a very small percentage of the overall housing development numbers. However there are a number of existing social housing on the books, so investment needs to be made within these. In 2018 7,000 units were brought into the market, up to 10,000 in 2019. This is a decent number, but it still is falling short considering the homeless figures do not appear to be dropping anytime soon.

The biggest issue, in my own opinion and as per a report issued in 2016, is that a lot of the costs of building are eaten up in fees and red tape of the government itself which they have direct access to be able to resolve. VAT, levies, land acquisition are all things the government can control and make up about 30% or more of the actual cost of constructing a house. So the government take in this money which is causing the construction of housing to exceed the sale value. The Help to Buy Scheme is great and many new buyers avail of it, but it really is a drop in the ocean to the fees and other hindrances that the government can work on. They do make reference to the Land Development Agency, but in terms of real costs or savings, its not really measurable as to what this would do.

In fairness t their policy, it seems more a continuation of what is happening and is realistic and achievable. Is it enough though? Time will tell, but it really should be. My only concern that despite increased numbers of both social housing and also private housing, that the homeless figures still aren’t dropping. Are there other reasons for that not to do with supply issues? I don’t know.

Fianna Fail

This was only issued 2 days ago, so late enough getting it out there. They promise to build 200,000 houses in the next 5 years, 50,000 will be social housing and 50,000 will be affordable housing. Considering the expenditure currently in the government budgets is only spending on housing for 6000 new units in the next 3 years, 100,000 state funded housing (with half of them being subsidised) seems lofty.

They are offering a SSIA type savings scheme with a 33% interest rate, which sounds great, so this is over and above the expenditure on social housing and would roughly add a maximum cost of €3.1billion per year to the government if everyone availing took it to the maximum level. They estimate that the 50,000 social housing will cost €500m per year, so €2.5 billion over the 5 years for building 50,000 houses. That works out at a cost of €50,000 per house to build. That is clearly wrong, either they are not showing the full details or they have fucked up. They do mention reducing Development levies, which is good.

Another good point which they mention is that with all these new houses, they will need people to build them. At the moment, there is already a huge skill shortage in terms of trades and professionals, so they are promising to increase apprenticeship places.

As a strange point of reference, they twice mention they need a “Dunkirk” style of approach to building. Nonsense waffle.

Anyway, moving on. They later clarify the above fuck up on the annual spend. They state it is €570 per annum above current expenditure on social housing. Makes a bit more sense, however if Fianna Gael are producing 2,000 units per year, how will 8,000 extra only cost €500m? That is €62,500 per house. So it is still fucked up. They may be able to put €500m extra, but they wont reach their unit target at all.

They have a lovely spiel here that is nonsense waffle again actually.

“Cut through Local Authority Red Tape. Faced with an unprecedented housing crisis we need to ensure Local Authorities have the powers and resources to get building again. Fine Gael has refused to remove red tape that means social housing proposals have to jump through hoops before they are shovel ready. Rather than blaming local authorities, we will work with them on a root and branch reform of the process to get social housing construction moving.”

A load of clichés and bullshit that says absolutely fuck all. Fuck me, the jargon thread would have a field day with that paragraph.

The manifesto isn’t bad, but fuck me they have literally just thrown every single idea together and fucked it out. If you were to take every single item they put in there, the country would be bankrupt in the morning. Its actually far more speculative and delusional than I expected. They make some very key points and they would be better focussed concentrating on one or two major items that are practical and achievable rather than spouting out so much bluster. The levies reduction is very pertinent and probably is one item which wont interest the average punter, but is probably the easiest one to implement and cause actual real change.

Sinn Fein

A big effort here. A 40 page manifesto document, significantly larger than the FG or FF one. And then I see this is actually 4 years old. Fuck sake. Update it yiz lazy bastards. Eventually I found a link to an updated one. @chocolatemice, can you tell the website cunts to sort their shit out.

So, the update relevant 8 page manifesto. One of their first points that the government led by FF/FG over 30 years relied on private developers to solve housing is probably a correct summary of the situation. Their key policies, deliver 100,000 public homes on public land, hold a referendum on the right to housing in the constitution, and nothing else really but some bluster and points. They want 20,000 public homes per annum (more than 10 times the current output). On this point, unlike Fianna Fail, they make zero mention on the expenditure on this. It’s somewhat a separate point, but having a referendum to a right to housing in the constitution? So no matter who you are or what you are, you have a right to a house? I’m not sure what that would lead to. I don’t know enough about the constitutional rights as they stand, and I would hope it includes a right for shelter or provision for being housed. However a right to a house? Anyway, a separate issue in the overall scheme of the debate.

They have a section on reforming the public housing. It has some minor points in it, but nothing really of any substance. Both FG and FF had policy mentions on renting, but for the most part I’ve not really going into them. Similar to SF who also have a bill proposal for rent freeze and other measures.

The one thing about this document as I read it, is they talk about what they would do, but not really say much. For example

“In Government, Sinn Fein would deliver a stream of affordable purchase homes through Local Authorities”. How many? In what way would this be done? How much would it cost? No details, nice buzz words. Its pretty much like that the whole way through. As much as a lot of the FF proposals seem unrealistic, the SF ones just have nothing of any substance in them. Another one here

“Strengthen the NZEB regulations and introduce clear mechanism to ensure compliance”. Who the hell wrote this? NZEB is a building regulation that has to be complied with under law. Considering these proposals are part of overall main development, it would mean all works are undertaken under BCAR regulations where I do not see how any additional compliance could be done. Its one of the most stringent mechanisms for regulation and also one of the most high regulated building compliance in Europe. How are you going to do this Sinn Fein? Buzz words.

There is nothing else in it really. Its actually more disappointing than I had expected. I thought they would have promised more and gone into greater detail. The couple of pages of their initial plan from 2016 had lots more detail and funnily enough, in 2016 they promised 100,000 houses over 15 years, whereas now they think this can be achieved over 5 years. The initial one may have been a better and more prepared document, but I’ve wasted enough time on all this so not reading through that one too.

Labour

An 18 page document, the biggest so far. They have set out summary and goals with a target of 80,000 houses over 5 years investing €16b, working out at a cost of €200k per unit. Probably on the low side, but even so, the most realistic figure yet.

The document is quite good, they set out an analysis of the issues and how house prices have increased, along with disposable income levels. I’ll also give them kudos for the use of the SCSI report that sets out the costs of housing and the income needed by a couple to be able to afford a mortgage for an average house cost. Bonus points there for that! Going more into the document, it reads more like a thesis based report rather than manifesto bluster. So pros and cons to that. Its actually quite well researched and reads well, however is it hitting the bullet points the average punter needs to hear?

In their proposals they set out some key ones, and rather than the one liners of Sinn Fein, or the small paragraph of FF/FG, they detail out their proposal and effects of it. Similar to Sinn Fein, they propose a referendum on the right to housing in the constitution, but it details it a lot more clearly. They discuss in detail the public land they wish to use.

In all, its actually a good document, however do they hit enough points to win a voter over? Probably not. They don’t go mad trying to revolutionise much, set key targets that are achievable. Is their policy one that could work. It could, and it wouldn’t cripple the economy either. Their main policy for housing reform is to merge the state agencies at the moment under one umbrella and merge those resources. Some of their other points are community led and wishful thinking for a more utopian society and great if worked, but implementable? Not sure.

Green Party

They set out a housing policy and a homeless policy. I’ve only looked in to the housing one. I’m starting to get bored now and I’ll need to do some actual work soon. This document is dated 2018, which is disappointing. Searching for an updated one proved fruitless. I’m not sure they have one. This will be quick as even 2 years ago is now very much outdated.

Great start to this one, someone didn’t hit enter so all the topic headings are at the end of each page and the main body of text follows on the next page. Sloppy.

They propose a dedicated fund to each Local Authority to build 36,000 units per annum, 35% social, 35% affordable. I’m not sure Local Authorities really get involved then in private market for the remaining 30%?

The Greens also propose a referendum for a right to housing in the constitution. I must read more into this. For the 3 main “opposition” parties to have it in manifestos, and neither FF or FG mentioning it, then it must have some credence to it. The document is hard enough to read through and some things in it (eg NZEB regs) are outdated at this stage.

So going back to a summary page details their manifesto currently. Replace local property tax with site value tax. Not sure what this does though. Mandating pension funds invest a proportion in delivery of new housing. Interesting concept.

There wasn’t much to the document or their proposals really. Not a whole lot in it.

Social Democrats

Everyone gets a fair crack here. Although this policy too is outdated, from 2018. It a short enough document, but hits key points. New developments have a changed Part V, 70% purchase, 20% affordable and 10% social. AS long as the finances to subsidise this were in place, its not off the wall. They also call for a housing delivery agency similar to what Labour called for in their proposals. Interestingly, they want to scrap the Help to Buy scheme, where most of the others wanted to keep it and improve it.

There isn’t really much else of not in it worth implementing or that would make any sort of meaningful impact. This was also the first manifesto that did not mention any figures for output of new housing.

Aontu

Not really a manifesto, but a webpage summary of what is wrong. Looking to their “Solutions”, they don’t really address any. Its more whinging about Fine Gael and talk about what was done in the 302, 50s and 80s, of what relevance that has I haven’t a notion. The one thing they do say is if the state invested €2.2b per year, the 10,000 social housing units could be achieved.

They discuss about vacant land and properties and the need to address this. There is also this comment in the “solutions” sction of their manifesto, that makes no sense to me.

“End the Eternal Regulation Change - The current housing minister has changed building regulation a number of times. As a result many builders expect further change which will allow more units to be achieved per site. This has the effect of slowing down the building of houses”

In all, this is fairly pathetic. They don’t outline any proposals or ways to address things or what could be done, rather they bitch about Fine Gael and what they did.

So that’s all the major players looked at. Evaluating them? Surprisingly, I thought Labour had the most detailed and practical solutions. Fine Gaels is more a continuation of the work they have started and things definitely have changed and continues to see an upward change, but are they doing enough? Are they promising enough? Unlike them, Fianna Fail are throwing everything at it. Heaps of houses with unrealistic costs, savings plans and anything that will attract even one voter. It may work for them, but its totally impractical. Sinn Fein have talked a lot but haven’t backed up any of it. Worryingly, they have in the space of 4 years promised 100,000 houses over 15 years, to 100,000 houses over 5 years. Fianna Fail were the only ones to consider the labour shortage that we currently have and trying to address that. The Green Party and Social Democrats are a long way off with outdated manifestos. Really, I’d have expected them to have it ready to go and updated. Aontu just sound like a whinging prick down the back of the room shouting at those at the front with nothing behind them.

So where does housing stand? If Fine Gael are to get back in, I’d hope some additional proposals are taken on board. Fianna Fail with the levies reduction. Labour and Social Democrats with a centralised housing agency reform. Those are things that could actually work. They are all promising more houses for Local Authorities social housing lists, but how practical is it investing in so much more than the current expenditure. There absolutely needs to be a fix, but there is also a lot of existing units that take a huge time in turnaround from receipt to redistribution. Its far too long to get these back to the market and that is another area some mentioned but don’t go into detail that needs to be addressed.

Anyway, Lunch is over, may go back to work now. If anyone is still reading, fair play. I’m even bored of it all now.

Sources:
https://www.finegael.ie/our-policies/a-housing-system-with-the-citizen-at-the-centre/






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Bullet points.

  • Fine Gael – more of the same, nothing really new, a continuation and increase on the past couple of years, but may not be enough

  • Fianna Fail – throw the kitchen sink at it all. Money is no object and the cost of housing is negligible. Adresses levies and labour shortages

  • Sinn Fein – Spurious enough figures and comments with no backup or substance to it

  • Labour – Probably the best of them all. Some good points and realistic targets that can affect change. Nothing huge though either in terms of big fundamental changes

  • Green Party – out of date and nothing of much substance

  • Social Democrats – Nothing at all in this really. No figures of output or what is required.

  • Aontu – Shambles. Bitching and moaning with no proposals.

Honestly, in the last 3 years or so I don’t think Fine Gael are doing that bad a job on housing. However they cant say that because there are 10,000 homeless still on the books. Whoever gets in needs to continue the upward increase in supply and change some legislation’s in terms of taxation and levies which will help affordability of construction and thereby purchasing costs can be lowered. They can certainly do more, I dont think what they’ve done is enough, but its a good start.

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This post is excellent work @Gman as the other was a little too much of a long read for now.

Fair play to you

Green Manifesto being released at the weekend

PUBLIC HOUSING ON PUBLIC LAND

Excellent. I will of course update accordingly to ensure the correct information is available

Soundbites are good too.

I thought they were putting the Wolves on public land?

soundbites in caps are even better

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stick to voting FFG you dullard

Tents at a music festival dont count

Knock Tallaght Stadium and build houses on it?

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ok @Mac , a snide comment at my expense - not cool

We all live in a Robbie Fowler house
A Robbie Fowler house
A Robbie Fowler House

I’m a shinner now

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:exploding_head: :exploding_head: :exploding_head:

FF by reading that would have us building on fucking flood plains again with brown envelopes changing hands amongst “self made” Junior Cert educated property developers and brown shoe wearing roasters masquerading as planning officials and councillors , paying little regard to mother Earth. Fuck them cunts.

I was always a socialist republican, but that debate last night has turned me militant

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I’ll give this the proper time it deserves later…Rents are a bigger issue imo.

They could well be. I think as much as anything is the dead money of rent, paying rent leaves little ability to save and it isnt used as a credit rating then either when making mortgage applications. Rent to buy scheme is something that is oft talked about but doesnt seem to get anything pushed on it.

Good post @gman.

I suspect some of the suspected anomalies in figures might be coming from savings on rent subsidies and emergency accommodation etc. The current government spends €800m pa on rent subsidies to private landlords. That’s more than they spend on building new homes. So some of the issues you have with the figures suggest the other parties plan on diverting some of those funds into building houses rather than paying landlords.

As @The_Selfish_Giant has advised above the Greens will launch their housing policy as part of their manifesto launch on Saturday. Expect house building on public land to feature highly (driving costs down) as well as use of the cost rental model used successfully elsewhere.

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Great read gmail, care to compare and contrast other policy areas??

I like the way you evaluate solutions not the fairytale stuff. Fuck you labour for being such a mess overall.

The right to housing, i can’t think of any other specific tangible commodity constitutionally guaranteed. Not sure how that would even work because how could it be realised. Every person in the country on age of majority handed keys to a house??