Nearly one-third of people want Government to prioritise building new houses

With rents in Dublin now higher than during the boom* and mortgage lending falling**, 32% of people think the next Government should build more houses itself as a first step towards solving the housing problem in Ireland.

This is according to research from Royal London, one of Ireland’s leading protection specialists. Royal London recently commissioned a nationwide survey, conducted by IReach, of 1,000 people throughout the country to see how they think the housing crisis can be tackled. The survey also revealed that 28% of people think the Government should apply strict rent controls and 21% think the red tape around building new homes should be cut.

Joe Charles of Royal London explained, “Property and housing is a huge issue facing this country at the moment, and it is very much at the forefront of people’s minds. Supply shortages, lending restrictions and a lack of funding to deal with housing and homeless issues, are really impacting the lives of thousands of Irish people and families. So it stands to reason that there are some strong views out there on this topic. With that in mind, our survey findings will be of interest to many, including perhaps our next Government.”

Housing SUrvey graph

The Royal London survey asked respondents:

Recent reports have shown a huge reduction in the number of homes for sale or for rent. Which of the following measures should the next Government prioritise to solve the housing crisis?

        Apply strict rent controls                                                                         28%

        Cut the level of red tape/ bureaucracy to speed up building new homes      21%

        Create financial incentives to encourage landowners/ developers to build more homes                                                                                                           19%

        The Government should build more houses itself                               32%

Joe went on to say, “At the core of the whole problem is the issue of supply and funding. Construction of housing has slowed down to very low levels. In 2006 more than 93,000 houses were built, in 2015 this figure was estimated to have reached just over 12,500, with the medium term demand for new housing forecast to be up to 30,000 units per annum.***”

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The Royal London survey results revealed:

        More men than women would be in favour of the Government building more houses themselves (35% versus 29%), but more women than men (34% versus 22%) would rather see strict rent controls put in place.

        Differences in ages were also pronounced.  With rents having increased by 9.8% nationally last year*, it is perhaps unsurprising  that 35% of 18-34 years old want to see strict rent controls. Whereas just 1 in 5 of those over 55 thinks this is the answer.

        Conversely, support for more Government development of houses grows as the age of respondents increases; from 22% of 18 to 34 year olds; to 33% of 35-54 year olds; to 43% of those aged 55+.

        Just 12% of those over 55 think creating financial incentives for more builds is the answer. Overall, this rose to just under 20% of respondents despite this being mooted by many commentators as the best solution to our housing challenges.

Joe concluded, “It’s interesting that our survey results reveal that more people think that the solution to this lies directly with the Government than the private sector, with 32% saying the State should build more houses and only 19% saying there should be financial incentives to encourage new builds.

The housing crisis was a major issue for many of the electorate in the recent general election and the next administration will be faced with a big challenge to help rectify it. As our Royal London survey reveals, for many it is a priority for the Government to address this growing problem – but with no one simple answer as a solution.”

*Private Residential Tenancies Board (PRTB) Quarterly Rent index March 2016.

** Banking and Payments Federation Ireland Mortgage Approvals Report January 2016.

*** Department of Finance Tax Strategy Group March 2016

About Royal London:

Royal London is the largest mutual life, pensions and investment company in the UK and Ireland with group funds under management of over €110 billion. Group businesses provide around 9.1 million policies and employ 2,988 people (figures quoted are as at 31 December 2015).

Royal London’s Irish office is based at 47 St Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2.