Written answers

Thursday, 10 December 2020

Department of Housing, Planning, and Local Government

Housing Policy

Réada Cronin (Kildare North, Sinn Fein)
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249. To ask the Minister for Housing, Planning, and Local Government his specific plans for the housing of single persons given that it takes two salaries to pay rent or a mortgage; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42579/20]

Photo of Darragh O'BrienDarragh O'Brien (Dublin Fingal, Fianna Fail)
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Within my Department, Budget 2021 provided for a suite of affordable housing measures totaling €468 million, which represents 14% of the total Housing Budget. This will be utilised across two new programmes to deliver affordable homes to purchase and rent, the existing Serviced Sites Fund, the Local Infrastructure Housing Activation Fund, the Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan and through the Land Development Agency.

From this sum, €110 million was ring-fenced for two new national schemes to designed to deliver more affordable housing the Affordable Purchase Shared Equity Scheme and the Cost Rental Equity Loan facilityto help deliver Cost Rental homes. Both of these programmes will begin in 2021. 

€75 million of this sum will be provided to deliver a new national Affordable Purchase Shared Equity Scheme for first time buyers.  I intend to target the scheme at first time buyers including single persons, who are seeking to buy a new home but who cannot quite secure the full mortgage amount to do so at the present time. Subject to the final qualifying criteria, the scheme would see the State take a limited equity stake in a property, in order to help more people meet the cost of buying a new home with their available mortgage.

To this end, significant preparatory work has already been carried out by my Department working primarily with the Housing Agency and the Department of Finance. Intensive engagement continues with key stakeholders informing the final detailed parameters of the scheme, as well as with home builders to seek to increase the output of new homes in response to the new scheme.

In addition, €35m has been allocated to the new Cost Rental Equity Loan (CREL) facility to support Approved Housing Bodies (AHBs) to deliver approximately 350 Cost Rental homes at scale from next year.  This scheme will leverage the proven expertise and capacity of the AHBs, demonstrated in their development and management of social housing units.  It will allow cost-covering rents to be set a lower level and so making them more affordable for tenants. Further details on the scheme will be announced in due course. 

In addition to these new schemes, I will also progress and accelerate the local authority led scheme to deliver more affordable homes for purchase and rent on public land.  The statutory basis for the delivery of affordable new housing for purchase on local authority lands is Part 5 of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009, which was commenced in June 2018. 

The broad parameters of the local authority led Affordable Purchase Scheme will be as follows: 

- aimed at first-time buyers, including single persons, who cannot purchase a home adequate to their needs on the open market under the macro prudential rules;

- homes purchased under the scheme will be subject to a maximum statutory discount of 40% (relative to the market price), with the final price of the affordable homes to be linked to the cost of provision, on a site by site basis, and

- the local authority maintains a fully repayable equity share in the properties equivalent to the percentage discount given. 

It is envisaged that the homes delivered under all of the above schemes will be made available to applicants who meet defined eligibility criteria. The precise eligibility conditions are currently being developed in light of the on-going policy analysis outlined. I intend to bring forward any necessary provisions to underpin these schemes in a forthcoming Affordable Housing Bill which will be brought to Government in the coming weeks. 

The Land Development Agency (LDA) will play an increasingly significant role in the delivery of more affordable housing, as promised in the Programme for Government. The LDA is currently developing 9 sites that have near-term delivery potential for 3,600 new homes, the majority of which will be for Cost Rental and affordable purchase. It is also engaged in the progression of a number of other sites with potential for significant housing output.  In the longer term, it will assemble strategic land-banks from a mix of public and private lands, making these available for housing in a controlled manner, which will bring essential long-term stability and sustainability to the Irish housing system. 

In addition to the above, an enhanced Help to Buy scheme was announced as part of the €7 billion July stimulus package, which was extended to December 2021 as part of Budget 2021. This allows first-time buyers purchasing a newly-built home – or building one themselves – to claim back up to €30,000 paid in income tax and DIRT on bank deposit interest over the last four years. Full details of the Help to Buy initiative are available on the Revenue website. 

Finally, the Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan is a Government-backed mortgage which is for first-time-buyers nationwide to purchase a new or second-hand home or to self-build.  This scheme offers loans on competitive terms to those who are unable to secure a commercial bank loan.  Full details of the scheme are available on the Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan website.


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