Government urged to scrap new affordable housing scheme 

Officials from the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, the Economic and Social Research Institute, and the Central Bank have all warned against the scheme, which they believe will push up house prices
Government urged to scrap new affordable housing scheme 

Dublin City Council's Fine Gael councillors wrote to the housing minister, urging him to scrap the shared equity scheme in the Government’s affordable housing plan.

The Government has been called on to scrap its new affordable housing scheme.

The call comes after Dublin City Council's Fine Gael councillors wrote to the housing minister, urging him to scrap the shared equity scheme in the Government’s affordable housing plan.

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald said during Leaders' Questions "the lives of an entire generation have been defined by a housing crisis".

"For them, the aspiration of purchasing or owning their own home has been reduced to a distant pipe dream.

"People have been calling out for a government that will take the housing crisis seriously, to make housing affordable for workers and families on average incomes," she said.

"You said that you would introduce a plan that makes an affordable home an achievable goal for ordinary people and families.

"The scheme that Minister O'Brien has come up with, his shared equity scheme, does absolutely nothing to make housing more affordable.

"In fact, it will achieve quite the opposite, his scheme will prop up already unaffordable prices and make a bad situation so much worse.

His policy could be described as both the continuation of disastrous housing policy, but also one that has strong echoes of the failed Celtic Tiger policies of Fianna Fáil."

Officials from the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, the Economic and Social Research Institute, and the Central Bank have all warned against the scheme, which they believe will push up house prices.

"It is only a Fianna Fáil minister for housing that could even think of introducing a scheme that would inflate house prices and put money straight back into the pockets of developers, whilst foolishly ignoring warnings from senior Government officials and for experts," Ms McDonald added.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin accused the Sinn Féin leader of "engaging in a propagandistic sloganeering approach to housing".

"Government allocated unprecedented resources to a broad suite of measures to deal with the housing crisis and the largest social housing programme was budgeted for 2021," he said.

"We had planned to build 9,500 social homes in 2021.

"The current lockdown will impact on that but we will try and recover ground as much as we possibly can.

"We have made very rapid progress in relation to housing in terms of the Land Development Agency and, for example, in terms of getting really detailed work on that bill which would be an extra lever, when it is passed, to give effect to the building of housing, social and affordable. 

"The minister has published the affordable housing Bill to put affordability into the heart of the housing system.

Our only interest is in giving young people a chance to buy houses.

The Taoiseach added that Sinn Féin has "consistently opposed homeownership" and voted against affordability motions, adding that on Dublin City Council Sinn Féin has voted against housing development motions 16 out of 21 times.

Ms McDonald said Sinn Féin is for "public housing and affordable housing".

"The evidence of your housing failures are there for all to see and are very real, it's not propaganda, the suffering, and the anger of workers, of families, of younger people in particular, who cannot afford a home is real. It is not fiction," she said.

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