Friday, 4 June 2021
Affordable Housing Bill 2021: Committee Stage (Resumed)
When the Minister of State, Deputy Peter Burke, was in the House on Monday he responded to a separate but connected amendment and he gave some very good examples of how the 30%, 35% or 40% would not be the case in reality. That is on the record for anybody to read so I will not repeat his points.
Reference has been made to the Government saying that houses costing €350,000 and €450,000 are affordable. The Government never once said that. Perhaps Senator Gavan has not read the Bill or he misunderstands what we are discussing here, which is the affordable purchase element relating to local authority builds and local authority houses. What he is actually referring to is the shared equity scheme, which I hope we will get to a little later in the Bill, but it is a separate section. Sinn Féin opposes the scheme, just like it opposed the help-to-buy scheme that has assisted 22,500 people to purchase their first home. This section of the Bill is about the purchase of houses under the local authority affordable purchase scheme on local authority lands or in the case of Part 5 where the council will get an additional 10%. That will be introduced by way of amendment on Report Stage in the Dáil. Unlike what has been outlined by Senator Gavan, the cost of those homes will be based on the cost of providing them and that will be supplemented by the serviced sites fund, which is currently €50,000 per unit. The Minister is on record as saying that he is examining increasing the threshold, perhaps to €100,000 on houses where there is a significant affordability issue, in particular in the Dublin area. Let us not confuse or deliberately mislead people. Let us speak to the facts and the amendments that are before us on the Affordable Housing Bill.