Housing challenges harming Cork's attractiveness and competitiveness

March 27, 2023

Ibec, the group that represents Irish business, today met with business leaders in Cork to discuss housing as part of its ongoing ‘Better Lives, Better Business’ campaign. The group recently published a major new housing report, ‘Better Housing, Better Business’, proposing a suite of measures to speed up the delivery of housing and improve viability and affordability.


Speaking at the event, Helen Leahy, Ibec's Head of Regional Policy said: “Housing is a key component of competitiveness, it impacts on the attractiveness of Ireland as a location for investment. Cork is Ireland’s second largest economic region, with a population of more than 580,000. The National Planning Framework (NPF) anticipates that Cork will become the fastest-growing city region in Ireland, with a projected 50-60% increase in its population by 2040." 


“A well-functioning housing sector is critical to the overall health of society and the economy and has a direct impact on the cost of living and wage demands. The primary challenge is to deliver a housing supply sufficient to meet demand at a price level that is affordable, accessible and sustainable.”


“There is a need to reinvigorate the policy drive around the availability and affordability of housing in the context of these challenges. This will require a suite of measures to improve the viability and affordability of homebuilding, such as addressing emerging financing deficits, reform of the planning and procurement system to speed delivery, a ramping up of ambition in affordable and cost-rental housing, and significant investment in skills and modern methods of construction. From an affordability perspective, our proposed fiscal measures would reduce the cost of a typical €400,000 new home by €30,000 and this could be achieved with immediate effect.”


Panellist Michael O’Flynn, Chairman and CEO, O’Flynn Group said: “The housing crisis has increasingly become a concern for younger workers, in particular. They are financially pressed by ever-higher rents and the receding prospect of homeownership. This ultimately spills over into issues around well-being and productivity in the workplace. This can be a struggle when trying to fill roles due to a lack of adequate affordable accommodation.”


A recent survey, commissioned by Ibec and carried out by Amárach found that 59% of people in Cork said their general quality of life had disimproved in the last five years, just 1% lower than the national average. When asked what would make the biggest difference in improving their quality of life, people in Cork rated more affordable housing (23%) most highly. Sustainable and tangible improvements in quality of life are required if Ireland is going to continue to be a great place to do business.