Social Work Action Network (SWAN) Ireland is an organisation whose main aim is to create a space where social workers, social care workers, students, service users, carers, academics and members of the public can come together, equally and collectively, to campaign for a fairer society. We are also part of an international network.
The Social Work Action Network Ireland is hugely concerned about the disastrous effects the new proposed Housing Bill could have on the marginalised and disenfranchised communities that we work with on a daily basis.
Section 37 of the bill is worrying in it’s potential consequences. It advises that the new Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) to replace rent allowance, “shall be deemed to be an appropriate form of social housing support for a household…” Therefore, once someone is on rent allowance and is transferred to the HAP, they will be classed as being in “social housing” (while living in private rented accommodation). This section of the bill allows the government to say that they are providing social housing for people while not physically building or providing any long-term social or local authority housing. This section also has the consequence of misleadingly shortening the extensive housing lists around the country over night as people are considered adequately housed by the local authority.
This bill appears to be disingenuous and is not an adequate response to the current housing crisis in Ireland. Instead of fudging numbers on a page and moving responsibility for rent allowance from one government department to another, SWAN Ireland suggests that it would be more sensible for the government to begin to address the crisis in a meaningful way by following the suggestions of Housing Action Now:
- End chaos in the private rented sector through measures such as rent controls,
- End the mortgage crisis through measures such as moratoriums on evictions from properties that are the principle family residence,
- Provide social housing through measures such as building new houses,
- Address issues regarding Traveller specific accommodation such as ensuring local authorities are forced to support Traveller specific accommodation (Source: https://housingactionireland.files.wordpress.com/2014/06/housing_action_now_long_edit.pdf).
SWAN Ireland encourages all it’s supporters to meet at Dáil Eireann tomorrow, June 17th at 6pm to protest the introduction of this bill.
Please see the following groups for more information:
Housing Action Facebook Page, Housing Action Now Facebook Page, Housing Action Now WordPress Site, Social Work Action Network Ireland Facebook page and WordPress site.