Regional price caps for shared equity scheme to be published soon, Minister says

O’Brien claims critics of initiative ‘not telling the truth’ about State’s capacity to build homes

Details of regional price caps attached to a contentious shared equity scheme for private home purchases will be published soon, Minister for Housing Darragh O'Brien has said in response to concerns over potential price inflation.

The Government has come under sustained criticism for the proposed model which embraces private sector supply and that critics insist will drive up prices.

However, Mr O’Brien said on Friday that it was not possible to debunk a scheme whose details have not yet been published – a situation he will rectify in the coming weeks by publishing accompanying regulations.

“We are going to have regional price caps, it’s going to be targeted at specific eligibility conditions around affordability,” he said as he announced a €430 million capital investment programme in Dublin.

“We will have those checks and balances in place when I publish the regulations.

“The reality is [that] right now we are seeing slight house price increases as well. The measures that I will bring forward in my own scheme around regional price caps and targeting, a very targeted measure for about 2,000 homes per annum.”

State stake

The Affordable Purchase Shared Equity scheme, part of the Affordable Housing Bill currently in train, would see the State take up to a 30 per cent stake in private home purchases specifically aimed at assisting those caught in a rent cycle.

It is expected that up to 8,000 families be assisted in its first two years, with Dublin prices likely to be capped in the region of €400,000.

The approach is being likened to a similar scheme in the UK which the Minister said led to a 14 per cent increase in supply and a less than 1 per cent increase in house price inflation.

“We are looking at other schemes and improving them,” he said.

Sinn Féin housing spokesman Eoin Ó Broin, a critic of the scheme, recently pointed to research from the London School of Economics which found price increases of 6 per cent. The Minister said that was in London rather than the UK as a whole. However, the bulk of opposition relates to the scheme’s central reliance on private sector delivery.

‘Not telling the truth’

“I believe in public homes on public land. We want the State involved, we want our local authorities building. But you’re not just going to do it with the public sector only,” Mr O’Brien countered. “For those who tell you that you can...they’re not telling the truth. You have to use all the tools at our disposal.”

The State funded regeneration scheme announced by the Minister in Balbriggan, Co Dublin will see €430 million spread across eight projects.

Among them is €176 million for the Clonburris strategic development zone in south Dublin; €121 million for Dublin's north inner city; €53 million for the south inner city; €40 million for Cherrywood; €25 million for Balbriggan and almost €10 million for Adamstown in west Dublin.

The projects are being funded under the second round of the Urban Regeneration and Development Fund, with further announcements outside Dublin to follow.