Thursday, 18 February 2021
Land Development Agency Bill 2021: Second Stage (Resumed)
It is an ambition of many people in my area to own their own homes. It is a reasonable and decent ambition. However, it is increasingly difficult for those on ordinary incomes - engineers, teachers, nurses or those who occupy similar roles - to realise that ambition. Not only is it difficult to get a deposit together when renting, but the prices are moving further and further out of reach.
People want to live and work locally in their own communities. They do not want to have to move some distance away to be able to afford a home.
I am glad that a Fianna Fáil Minister is taking steps to deal with this issue and give people a chance to own their own home. The Bill takes a three-pronged approach to housing provision, encompassing cost-rental accommodation, where people can rent at more affordable rates, affordable housing, where people can own their house outright, and shared equity, where the State takes an interest in the house. While it is the smallest portion of the overall plan, I want to highlight the shared equity aspect because it is giving people throughout the country a chance to buy their own home. It is important that people should be able to use the scheme to build their own home or, if necessary, to buy an existing house. As I said, the Bill is also focused on the provision of cost-rental accommodation and affordable houses.
Initially, these provisions will be directed towards the larger populations, where there is the greatest demand. However, I hope that will not be done at the expense of people in the rest of the population being excluded. As I said, people want to be able to live and work locally in their own community and not have to move long distances for an affordable home. It is hugely important that the schemes extend beyond those larger settlements as quickly as possible in order that the widest range of people across the country can access them.
Welcome features of the Bill include the proposals for enhanced Oireachtas committee accountability and the freedom of information aspects. Those are very welcome arrangements in respect of the LDA. The affordability provisions are also welcome, as is making sure that there is not a one-size-fits-all approach. There needs to be flexibility in that regard because affordability in Dublin, for example, is very different from affordability in County Cork or any other part of the country. I also welcome the Part V social housing requirements that will apply to the schemes. While much of the focus is on the first-time buyer, it is welcome that the Minister is looking beyond that and that a limited number of other groups, such as separated or divorced people, will also be able to access the schemes. That is very positive.
Teastaíonn ó dhaoine le bheith ábalta tithíocht a fháil ina gceantar féin, i measc a bpobal agus teacht uirthi ar phraghas réasúnta. Is dúshlán mór é do dhaoine nach féidir leo an deposit a chur le chéile agus toisc go bhfuil sé fíordheacair de bharr na praghsanna ag ardú. Is maith an rud é go bhfuil an Rialtas agus Aire de Fhianna Fáil ag dul i ngleic leis seo agus ag leagan amach plean chuige sin. Fáiltím roimh sin.