Housing support needs both systemic change and a Social Housing Act. The SAO points to the largest problems of housing policy
Press release - 10. 12. 2018
In its report, the Supreme Audit Office summarises the housing situation in the Czech Republic. This report includes, inter alia, findings from three audits, describes the strategic objectives in this area and the weaknesses of housing policy. In recent years, the SAO has repeatedly drawn attention to certain shortcomings. For example, competences and responsibilities of institutions in charge of housing policy are not clearly defined. The support of the housing of vulnerable persons is poorly coordinated and its benefits are insufficiently assessed. For example, the state does not monitor the use of subsidised social housing. Also, a Social Housing Act is still missing.
For 10 % of the Czech population, housing costs represent more than 40 % of the disposable income of the household. The acquisition of its own housing (70 m2) requires 11 annual salaries, while in Belgium1 3.7 of the average gross salary are sufficient, in Germany 5, and in Great Britain 9.8 average gross salary. Over the past 20 years, the state has spent CZK 232 billion on housing support. Beside that, the state also contributes to housing costs of vulnerable people, the last two years this being CZK 23.2 billion.
In order the housing support to be effective, clearly defined roles of individual institutions, municipalities included, must be clearly identified. It is also necessary to specify social housing and whom it is designated for. The state should evaluate regularly its interventions in order to know what the impact is. It is also important to effectively combat business abuse based on the provision of shelter and rental services for vulnerable persons.
Reduction in the number of excluded sites and a more successful integration of people vulnerable on the labour market would contribute to improving the situation. The number of sites excluded is increasing. In 2006, there were 310 such sites with 80 people living there. In 2015, it was 606 sites with 115 thousand people.
According to the SAO, the payment of social benefits and subsidies for social work is proving little effective. For example, in 2015 and 2016, the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (MoLSA) disbursed CZK 550 million for regions and municipalities to increase the number of social workers in municipal and regional authorities. In 2016, however, only 28 % of the number of social workers reached an optimal level according to the MoLSA. On the contrary, the Labour Office increased its number of workers, but the number of social investigations remained the same and relatively low in proportion to the number of benefits paid.
The SAO indicates in the report how the competent institutions responded to its audits. For example, the Ministry of Regional Development has promised to revise the concept of housing. The MoLSA has prepared proposals for adjusting the calculation of social benefits and changes to the social services system. It is also involved in the drafting of the Social Housing Act, which is mentioned as one of the priorities in the Government’s programming declaration. The Office of the Government then proposed to amend the law on social services.
In the EU countries, the private and public sectors are increasingly working together in the area of social housing. Roles of each sector are clear and separated. In some countries, such as Austria, Belgium, Germany, Estonia, housing associations play a key role. In Denmark and the Netherlands, social housing is provided by a private non-profit sector. In Slovakia, there is a law regulating the social housing system as well as defining the target group. Municipalities are responsible for providing social housing there. In Austria, social housing is for the wider population, not only the poorest and socially excluded. Unlike the Czech Republic, there is a greater focus on promoting housing construction for affordable housing.
Supreme Audit Office
1] Deloitte: Property Index Overview of European Residence Markets, July 2017