Homeseekers in Co Cork are at a distinct disadvantage to social housing hopefuls in Cork City.
A new grant aid system from central government favours City Hall and applicants on its housing waiting list.
Cork county councillors claim the city council can bid higher prices for houses under changes introduced by the Department of Environment.
Each local authority has been given a spending limit for house purchases.
Prior to June, the department provided exactly the same grants to both city and county councils in Cork to acquire two-, three-, and four-bed houses, as well as two-bed apartments.
However, in the meantime, regulations have changed significantly in favour of the city council.
The department decided on a new grant aid system.
As a result, the city council can spend up to €220,000 on a two-bed house, while the county council has a limit of €195,000.
The limit for the city council for a three-bed house is €290,000, which is €70,000 more than the county council is permitted.
The difference is even more stark when it comes to four-bed homes.
The city council can splash out up to €350,000, but the county council is restricted to just €250,000.
When it comes to two-bed apartments the city council can spend €195,000, which is €10,000 more than the county council.
Councillors insist that the move is making the task much harder for the county council to purchase newly built or secondhand houses, especially on the periphery of the city in areas such as the suburbs of Douglas, Ballincollig, Carrigaline, and Glanmire.
Kevin Murphy, county council leader of Fine Gael, which is the local authority’s largest party, said the situation was “ridiculous and totally untenable”.
He said the city council could technically buy any property in the county.
The Kinsale-based councillor said City Hall could, effectively, compete for houses at Mizen Head or Rockchapel, on the Cork-Limerick border.
“It actually puts those on the county council waiting list at a disadvantage because we are going to find it harder to purchase houses for these people,” said Mr Murphy.
He added that, as the county council could not now compete with its neighbouring local authority, all it could do was to buy cheaper houses which come on the market.
“The city council can now basically buy anything it likes,” he said. “They can bid an extra €100,000 over us for any four-bedroom property which comes on the market.
“This puts us at a very serious disadvantage. The new scheme is completely unworkable and we just can’t compete with the spending power of Cork City Council.”
Mr Murphy said that, depending on location, some houses in the county council-controlled area actually cost more than similar homes within the city area and, if anything, the county council should be given more money to enable it to purchase for social housing.
He is to put forward a motions at the council’s next meeting to get colleagues to support a call for the department to scrap the allocations and return to the equilibrium which existed prior to last June.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved