Offaly TD says local authorities are scapegoat for housing shortage

Justin Kelly

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Justin Kelly

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Offaly TD says local authorities are scapegoat for housing shortage

Offaly TD says local authorities are scapegoat for housing shortage

Fianna Fáil TD for Offaly, Barry Cowen, has said that comments made by the interim chairman of the Land Development Agency, criticising local authorities for failing to draw down funds from a Government scheme designed to promote urban regeneration, "don’t acknowledge the challenges faced by local authorities."

Deputy Cowen said it was "very easy to lay blame at the feet of local authorities for the Government’s appalling record on housing but that it wasn’t right for the Government to use them as a scapegoat."

Deputy Cowen said, “It was interesting to note that the interim chairman of the Land Development Agency didn’t acknowledge the Government’s failure to adhere to its own promise made in last year’s budget to allow local authorities have discretion in increasing the threshold from €2 million to €6 million for individual housing schemes.

“This would allow local authorities to design and build rather than having to go through ridiculously protracted delays awaiting departmental sign-off. This is not something the Government can blame on local authorities.

“He also failed to acknowledge that the Government won’t allow Credit Unions to invest in social housing despite the fact they are more than willing to do so," Barry claimed.

“Credit unions are only lending 20% of their capacity. They have €1 million coming in per week that they cannot use. They are only permitted to invest in the pillar banks, but the pillar banks are not giving them a return. Any return from a housing scheme would be far greater than the 0% they currently get.

“There are many other measures the Government could take to make it easier for local authorities to provide social housing, but they aren’t. Instead, they are happy to peddle the narrative that it’s the local authorities’ fault,” he concluded.