Tuesday, 9 April 2019
Ceisteanna - Questions (Resumed) - Ceisteanna ar Sonraíodh Uain Dóibh - Priority Questions
I thank the Deputy for the question. The Rebuilding Ireland home loan scheme was launched on 1 February of last year to replace the existing house purchase and home choice loan schemes. It provides a new line of mortgage finance that includes fixed rates over 25 to 30 years to creditworthy first-time buyers who cannot access sufficient mortgage finance from a commercial lender. The Housing Finance Agency borrowed €200 million to fund the scheme. It was estimated that the drawdown would be approximately €200 million over the three years. Some criticism at the time suggested that insufficient loans were being approved and drawn down. However, as Minister I had made a commitment to seek further funding at an early stage, if necessary, given my belief in the scheme's potential. The scheme has been more successful than anticipated. By the end of January €106 million had been drawn down. That accounted for 53% of the available funding at a point when €66 million would have been more consistent with the expectation of a three-year drawdown period. By the end of March of this year drawdowns had reached €127 million.
My officials have kept me informed regularly regarding progress on the loan scheme. They have been engaging with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform since October of last year when higher lending and drawdown volumes were beginning to materialise. I informed the Dáil on 29 January of this year of the scheme's success and of the need for additional funding. Furthermore, I indicated that my Department was in discussions with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform and the Department of Finance with regard to the allocation for 2019. Local authorities could continue to accept applications as the total funding had not been drawn down. A meeting with the Minister for Finance and Public Expenditure and Reform took place on 5 March of this year. Ongoing discussions between the three Departments have included consultation with the Central Bank as recently as last Friday, 5 April. When these discussions have concluded I will be in a position to confirm the level of allocation for 2019. In the meantime, the scheme remains open - it is not frozen - and all local authorities have been advised to continue to receive and process applications.