Pearse Doherty said that renters in Ireland are “being fleeced” and called on the government to introduce a ban on rent increases ahead of the Budget 2023 announcement next week.
The Tánaiste acknowledged that the country’s high cost of rent is a “very important issue” during a Dáil Éireann debate on Thursday.
He was responding to Sinn Féin finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty, who accused the government of ignoring “meaningful proposals that would make a major difference and put money back into people’s pockets.”
Mr Doherty said that renters in Ireland are “being fleeced” and called on the government to introduce a ban on rent increases ahead of the Budget 2023 announcement next week.
In his response, Varadkar thanked the Sinn Féin politician for “raising the important issue of the very high cost of rent in Ireland, which is out of kilter and disproportionate when compared with our peer countries.”
He said that there were a number of solutions that will help tackle the housing and cost-of-living crises, including “increasing and ramping up the amount of social housing we have in Ireland.”
“We’re probably going to break records in terms of the number of new social houses provided in Ireland this year, getting up to the kind of figures we haven’t seen since the 1970s, if not before,” the Tánaiste said.
“Social housing benefits everyone. It takes people off the housing list and also frees up private accommodation for other people to rent and other people to buy, thus exerting downward pressure on rents and property prices.
"That’s why we’re investing so much in new social housing and will continue to do so in the years ahead.”
He also mentioned the help-to-buy scheme, “a programme that has helped over 30,000 young people and young couples to buy their first home, often leaving rental accommodation and freeing it up for others.”
Responding to Varadkar’s rebuttal, Doherty said the government "will not meet its own targets” on social housing and cost-rental housing”.
“These are low targets that are inadequate given what is needed,” he said.
“When new rents are going up by 9.2pc a year and house prices are going up by 14pc, how far does rent have to go before the Tánaiste starts to realise the Government’s policies are actually contributing to this problem in the first instance?” he asked.