'Dead as a dodo': Scrap shared equity home loan scheme, says SF TD

Bruton says Sinn Féin’s claim that scheme will result in price spiral is ‘false’

The Government’s shared equity home loan scheme is “dead as a dodo”, Sinn Féin has said. Photograph: Getty Images

The Government’s shared equity home loan scheme is “dead as a dodo”, Sinn Féin has said. Photograph: Getty Images

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The Government’s shared equity home loan scheme is “dead as a dodo” and should be scrapped immediately, Sinn Féin TD Eoin Ó Broin has said.

The party will on Wednesday table a motion in the Dáil calling on the Government to drop its plans for the new Affordable Purchase Shared Equity Scheme amid claims that it will lead to house price inflation.

Meanwhile, the Oireachtas committee on housing has agreed to invite the Central Bank in as a witness as part of planned scrutiny of the scheme.

Under the scheme, part of the new Affordable Housing Bill, a first-time buyer of a new build home can ask the State to take up to a 30 per cent stake in the property. A budget of €75 million has been allocated for the first year of operation.

Defending the initiative, Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien said: “We are in the middle of a housing crisis that demands a swift effective response using a range of options not silver bullet fantasies of the Opposition. The shared equity scheme is just one measure in the overall Affordable Housing Bill 2020.

Concerns

“The shared equity scheme will be targeted, time and finance limited and subject to regional price caps in order to immediately activate supply, stop inflation and ensure realisable demand.”

However, Mr Ó Broin said: “It is now becoming increasingly clear that this scheme is dead as a dodo in terms of expert opinion and it is about time the Minister caught up and scrapped this Fianna Fáil developer scheme and put this money where it is needed into the delivery of genuinely affordable homes.”

He also urged the Green Party to vote in favour of the Sinn Féin motion when it comes to a vote next week.

Green Party TDs Neasa Hourigan and Patrick Costello expressed concerns about the scheme and said money should be directed towards social and public housing.

“If they are against the scheme we are giving them an opportunity to demonstrate that they are against the scheme and I think they should vote for the motion. I think there comes a point in time when you can no longer criticise things and facilitate them passing,” Mr Ó Broin said.

Fine Gael parliamentary party chairman Richard Bruton described as “false” the Opposition’s claims that the scheme will result in a price spiral.

“This is a very targeted scheme, focusing on those with incomes that are over the limit of €42,000 for social housing, but who cannot possibly purchase on the 3.5 times income loan rule. This group should be a priority group for assistance.

“It is not like the mortgage relief schemes which raised demand universally, nor indeed like the tax relief for renting favoured by Sinn Féin.

“It is of course true that if families locked out of the market are let in, you do increase the demand for new homes. However, in helping this priority group, you reduce demand for rental property, so do not increase the overall pressure in the market,” Mr Bruton said.

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