The Taoiseach has ruled out the idea of introducing a “bedroom tax” in Ireland.
The suggestion of a levy like the one implemented in the UK to get older people to downsize and free up family homes was firmly rejected after a majority of the 1,200 people surveyed told the Department of Housing it would not encourage them to leave their home.
Two-thirds of owners aged over 55 said they would not be moving house in the future and the vast majority said they were resistant to any initiatives to try to persuade them.
Some 5% said a charge on unused bedrooms would make them reconsider.
When the survey was reported in the media, Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy denied he was considering the idea in order to alleviate housing pressures, but to better understand the housing stock.
On Thursday, Leo Varadkar poured more cold water on the initiative.
I don't think that older people who are still in their family home, who happen to have an empty room, should be penalisedLeo Varadkar
He said: “I think it’s a terrible idea.
“It was attempted in the UK and turned out to be a real disaster.
“I have parents in their seventies and eighties, and yes, they have spare room but that’s their home, the home they have lived in for 30 to 40 years now, and there are examples like that all over the country.
“I don’t think that older people who are still in their family home, who happen to have an empty room, should be penalised.
“There are older people who live in big homes who downsize, and while I think there’s a case to encourage empty-nesters to downsize, I don’t think we should strong-arm or tax or force people to leave what is essentially their family home, where they brought up their kids, where everyone still gathers for Christmas and will be in a few weeks’ time.”