Affordable housing plan will see State take up to 30% equity with first-time buyers

State will take up to 30% equity to help finance house purchase under new Bill

Minister for Housing  Darragh O’Brien: ‘There will be no arbitrary salary caps, that’s what’s really important.’ Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien: ‘There will be no arbitrary salary caps, that’s what’s really important.’ Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

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A new affordable housing plan that will see the State take up to 30 per cent equity in a home with a first-time buyer is set to go to Cabinet next week.

The Minister for Housing, Darragh O’Brien, said the State will put in up to 30 per cent of the equity to help finance the purchase of a new home, and, when it comes to eligibility for the scheme, there will be “no arbitrary salary caps”.

He said the heads of the Bill will be discussed by Ministers next week and the legislation will come before the Dáil in 2021. If the scheme is up and running by next June or July, some 2,500 homes will be supplied in the 12 months that follow.

“We haven’t had an affordable scheme since the mid-2000s. The heads of the Bill are going to be with Cabinet next Tuesday and then we have a little bit of work to do with the European Commission in January. There are some state aid rules we need to deal with,” he told The Irish Times.

“We are looking at a shared equity type arrangement. There will be no arbitrary salary caps, that’s what’s really important. If you are a couple working in two decent jobs, they’re going to be [earning] over €75,000. They are left renting, paying an exorbitant rent, and they can’t save enough [to buy].”

Eligibility

In terms of the full details around eligibility, Mr O’Brien said these will be set out in separate guidelines to the legislation itself.

“The reason I’m doing that is because I want to be able to have the flexibility to vary the eligibility from time to time. If you tie the eligibility into the legislation, every time you want to change it, you’ve got to go back in.

“What we’re basically looking at is up to 30 per cent of a home that the State will take equity in. Is this open to singles and couples? Absolutely, it is. It’ll be open to predominantly first-time buyers initially [and] there would be some exceptions.

“In some instances people won’t want the full 30 per cent State equity, maybe the affordability gap is smaller so they might go for 10 per cent or 15 per cent equity.”

He said a similar scheme in Britain increased supply by 50 per cent. “And it didn’t lead to any house price inflation – this one would not either.”

Mr O’Brien also said he will bring legislation to Cabinet next week to place the Land Development Agency on a statutory footing to oblige it to deliver affordable housing on State land.