Congress Survey of Young Workers and Housing Costs

18 Jun 2018

ICTU Housing costs infographic

One in two young workers are struggling to cover their housing costs and are going without meals and other essentials to pay their rent according to a new survey from the Irish Congress of Trade Unions.

The national opinion poll of 1,500 trade union members under the age of 34 on their housing costs was conducted online between 01 and 14 June.

The survey was carried out by Congress ahead of the Labour Employer Economic Forum (LEEF) discussions between Government, union and employer representatives on housing.

Congress recognises the significant and unacceptable impact of our broken housing system on vulnerable individuals and families with young children experiencing homelessness and is continuing to lobby TDs to commit to adopting our Charter for Housing Rights, which sets out key principles on the creation of a secure and sustainable housing system, including: Declaring a Housing Emergency, Establishing a Legal Right to Housing, Guaranteeing Tenants Rights, Preventing Evictions into Homelessness and developing a National Land Use policy.

“This particular piece of research focused on the impact of the housing crisis on a generation of people who are sandwiched between high housing costs and low wages, to allow us take a detailed look behind snappy terms such as ‘generation rent’ and ‘delayed adulthood’” said Congress Social Policy Officer, Dr Laura Bambrick.

Commenting on the survey findings Congress General Secretary, Patricia King said: “The findings are worse than feared”.

“Lives are being damaged and destroyed and a whole generation of young workers are now feeling alarming levels of frustration, insecurity and despondency with their housing situation. We are failing badly our young people” she said.

Ms King said “Congress will use these stark findings to continue to put pressure on Government to take action through our ongoing housing campaign and in the upcoming social dialogue with ministers and employers”.

Key Headline Findings -

  • Over half (54 per cent) of all young workers are struggling to cover their housing costs. One in every two have had to borrow or sacrifice another basic need, such as food, heating and transportation, in order to pay their rent or mortgage in the past year.Of those young workers struggling to make the rent, one in six (17 per cent) are unable to keep their head above water and are in to arrears.
  • Two in five (40 per cent) of all young workers are spending in excess of the 30 per cent rent-to-income ratio of housing affordability. Half of these workers are spending between €31 - €40 out of every €100 take-home pay on rent.  One-quarter are spending between €41 - €50.The other quarter are spending above €51 in every €100 net earnings, which represents one in ten of all young workers spending more than half of their wages on housing.
  • Almost half (46 per cent) of all young workers are frustrated that they remain living in their parents’ home or that they are trapped renting. One in six (18%) are very frustrated with their current living arrangements.
  • One-third (33 per cent) of all young workers are blighted by housing insecurity, with one in three having little or no confidence in being able to continue living in their current home for as long as they would wish.
  • The vast majority (74 per cent) of young workers have little or no confidence in being able to buy a home in the future should they wish to.
  • Over eight in ten (84 per cent) of all young workers say housing will influence how they vote in the next election.