Help-to-Buy scheme to be continued under next week's budget

Help-to-Buy scheme to be continued under next week's budget

Housing Minister Darragh O'Brien is expected to announce the full details of the new affordable housing plan within weeks, with the finer details being worked out. File image.

The continuation of the Help-to-Buy scheme, a new affordable housing plan and significant investment to fund directly-built homes are set to be the cornerstones of the government's housing plan in next week's Budget.

With housing delivery this year set to fall as low as 15,000, there is a desire within the government to put as many resources as possible behind the social housing sector for 2021.

Delivery will drop by around 10,000 homes this year due to the shutdown of sites and social distancing when building resumed and housing industry sources say that 2021 "could be as difficult". 

However, Housing Minister Darragh O'Brien is expected to announce the full details of the new affordable housing plan within weeks, with the finer details being worked out. 

It is expected the plan will contain a number of mechanisms to achieve the programme for government goal of "putting affordability at the heart of the housing market". The state scheme could include an equity scheme wherein the state assists the purchase of a home but retains a repayable stake in it, but no decision has been made on those specifics as yet.

The Help-to-Buy scheme was due to expire later this year, but Mr O'Brien is said to be keen to ensure its continuation to avoid any housebuyers who may have been affected by Covid-related delays being hit with larger costs. The rate of the scheme was increased as part of the July stimulus package and offers first-time buyers a tax rebate of up to €30,000, as opposed to €20,000 previously.

It is understood that the government will continue it at that rate until the end of December 2021 to ensure sales of homes that are currently being constructed can go ahead. The government is also expected to announce "significant" increases to the Capital Advance Leasing Facility (CALF) funding scheme in order to encourage Approved Housing Bodies (AHBs) and local authorities to directly build their own homes.

There is concern within the government that social housing supply numbers, which nudged over 10,000 last year, are overly reliant on the acquisition of either turn-key units - homes bought from a developer beyond the Part V requirements - and the purchase of second-hand homes.

Public Expenditure Minister Michael McGrath and Mr O'Brien are keen for councils and AHBs to begin construction on around 9,000 homes next year, using potentially hundreds of millions of euro in additional funding.

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