The Housing Practitioners Conference, organised by the Housing Agency and the Institute of Public Administration, was a 2-day event in the Royal Marine Hotel in Dun Laoghaire.
The event included speakers from the Scottish Government, the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government, the Housing Agency, LSE London, the Irish Council for Social Housing, Dublin City Council, Tuath Housing, the Residential Tenancies Board, Douglas Newman Good and Campbell Tickell.
There was an option to attend one of a number of workshops, including;
The workshop on ‘Using land and progressing Mixed-Use Developments’ included a presentation from Jim Baneham from the Housing Agency, and Peter Gavican from the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government.
The topic of affordable purchase housing was discussed, with legislation on same, based on the relevant provisions of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009, to be commenced sometime within the next couple of weeks.
The Regeneration and Development Agency which will facilitate the ringfencing of land for housing will assist in these efforts.
The National Development Finance Agency will also be of assistance in this regard. In relation to funding for infrastructure, it was announced that a second tranche of LIHAF funding is due to be rolled out shortly. A cost-rental housing project, currently being piloted by Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council, was also discussed.
The workshop was followed by a presentation from Kath Scanlon, Assistant Professorial Research Fellow in LSE, who outlined a comparison of Ireland’s social housing system with systems across Europe, including the Netherlands, Scotland, Austria, and the UK.
Perhaps of most interest were her points in relation to the link between tenant income and rents in Ireland (our differential rent system). This is unique among European countries.
Also of significance is the fact that all new social housing construction in the UK is being undertaken by housing associations.
The ‘Right to Buy’ may also be extended to housing associations in the UK. In addition, Spain, notably, has a tiny amount of social rented accommodation. Instead, subsidies are provided to owner-occupiers.
However, Scanlon feels it is most logical and sustainable to subsidise housing as opposed to people, as we do in Ireland, and in many other parts of Europe.
Scanlon also highlighted an increasing reliance on private funding across Europe, significantly so in the Netherlands. She stressed, however, the importance of management of financial risk in such circumstances, citing the recent case of failed derivative speculation by a finance director of a housing association in the Netherlands.
Other discussions throughout the conference touched upon the following issues:
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