Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Tuesday, 5 November 2019

Select Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform, and Taoiseach

Finance Bill 2019: Committee Stage

Photo of Paul MurphyPaul Murphy (Dublin South West, Solidarity)
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We are going to spend another €100 million on this tax expenditure without carrying out a study to show it will result in any ordinary people getting houses. That is the proposal notwithstanding the fact that a study of a similar scheme in Britain has concluded there is a massive dead weight and it is a waste of public money. When the then Minister for Finance, Deputy Noonan, introduced the scheme, he was very open that it was about propping up property prices. He commented openly in the media that it was about increasing property prices and, thereby, incentivising the construction sector to get involved in building these houses. The Minister may think or argue that his final purpose is to allow people to access homes, but part of the logic of the scheme, or an intermediate point at the very least, is to prop up property prices to incentivise developers to build homes.

Is that not the Minister's purpose?

Third, I have found records of lobbying engagements with the CIF for the continuation of the help-to-buy scheme. How many lobbying engagements, meetings, communications have occurred between the CIF and the Department on the scheme over the past year?

Finally, does the Minister accept that the house prices to which he refers, in excess of €300,000, are out of the range of two workers on a median wage of €30,000, that is, a combined income of €60,000? They simply will not be able to buy a house in that range. The scheme does not work. A cohort of workers who would like to access the housing market are unable to do so, but even if they could, does the Minister accept that a far simpler and more effective way of using public money is to use it to build public housing?