The significance – and scale – of the Housing for All plan for our industry, indeed for the nation, is such that weeks on, it is still being digested and will most likely be chewed over for many weeks and months to come.
Fundamentally, the immediate critique must have been palatable for Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage Darragh O’Brien and his officials.
From a Cogent perspective, having had time to consume and break it down in more detail, we like the ambition and intent. We believe in its potential.
However, consistency and commitment are going to be key as this plan is going to be a slow-cook for sure, and not without its hiccups.
Too many cooks may, indeed, spoil the broth but in this instance one of the big challenges is keeping all those with a hand in this pie onboard, working together.
There’s an ‘all in’ approach almost required here; we’re that starved of housing that we need to, in so far as is possible, bring everyone together on this one – ‘all-of-government’ (if that’s at all possible), local government, private sector, etc.
The plan certainly does not need political opportunism getting in the way. That’s not to suggest that all is perfect, that we like everything on the menu. Far from it.
As the weeks and months go by, elements will be picked apart. Only last week, for example, we heard serious concern from the third-level sector that the extension of borrowing facilities, as provided for in the plan, will do little for them if rental yields won’t cover their borrowings, not least with materials costs escalating as they are.
There are other examples where Housing for All is not quite there, but, by and large, it is a fair start but with a tough course to follow. It may, indeed, get worse before it gets better. But it will be about buying-in and staying the course because if we don’t, we’ll be no better off.
In summary at this juncture, this is just the beginning and not even the beginning of the end. We believe it’s the right course. So, let’s summon the resolve and get on with it!
Over the coming weeks, we will be digging deeper into the ‘Housing for All’ plan; looking at different areas of it, identifying some challenges and proffering some solutions, starting next week with a look at ‘retrofitting’. If interested, make sure to follow us for more updates.