Thomas Pringle TD

Pringle: Government subsidies to developers are ‘an appalling use of public funds’

Independent TD for Donegal, Thomas Pringle, called Government’s planned subsidies to developers “an appalling use of public funds” that would be better spent building affordable homes.

Addressing the Dáil today, Deputy Pringle said: “I think I speak for everyone when I say that the government decision to gift €450 million to developers is a massive slap in the face to the many people in this country struggling with the cost of housing. Why is it the priority of this government to always put developers first? 

“Why do we allow this at the expense of our citizens?” he asked.

Deputy Pringle was speaking in support of a Social Democrats motion that called on Government to scrap the subsidies to developers.

Deputy Pringle said: “I support this motion’s proposal to scrap these subsidies that the Government is throwing €450 million at, for the construction of apartments that will be sold at full market price. The reality is that these apartments would be too expensive for most people to buy. 

“So basically, we are using public funds to give to developers to build accommodation which would then be too expensive for the public to buy. On top of that, these funds are to be spent without a cost-benefit analysis, a regulatory assessment or an independent cost evaluation.

“This is an appalling use of public funds. The money would be far better spent building affordable homes,” he said.

Government amendments to the bill are weak, he said.

Deputy Pringle said: “They state that the Government is committed to ‘supporting home ownership through a range of targeted measures’ which is completely untrue. The Government may support ownership for those few who can afford the current extortionate rates, but it certainly does not support home ownership for low or even average income families and it is completely disingenuous to suggest otherwise.”

He said that was further proven by the Government’s First Home Affordable Purchase Shared Equity Scheme, which he called, “another scheme for the well-off”, like the Help to Buy Scheme, that enables those on higher incomes to buy their homes at a cheaper cost.

Deputy Pringle said: “Have we not yet learned that pumping money into subsidies and schemes just doesn’t work. What we need is direct investment into the building of affordable homes.”

The deputy said Government cannot pretend the issue is not a result of their bad housing policies. He said Government amendments suggesting there has been a strong demand for urban living also shows how out of touch the Government is.

Deputy Pringle said: “The suggestion that everyone wants to live in an urban centre is unfounded and simply wrong. My constituency of Donegal saw an incredible influx of people over the course of the pandemic.

“People want to live where there are amenities, services and public transport connections. The pandemic made it clear that people would move to rural areas if they had these amenities. If the Government would actually look at investing in rural areas, it would encourage people to our rural areas and put less pressure on our urban ones.

“But this Government isn’t interested in investing in solutions that actually make sense,” he said.