Almost half of first-time buyers who have applied for a Rebuilding Ireland home loan this year have received a recommendation to decline.
Figures reveal that 582 applications were made to the Government-backed mortgage scheme for first-time buyers in the first quarter of this year. However, just 302 have been recommended for approval.
Sinn Féin housing spokesman Eoin Ó Broin, said several aspects of the scheme — which is operated through local authorities and provides up to 90% of the market value of the property — need to be addressed.
The figures show that just 39 of the 76 first-time buyers who applied across Cork city and county were recommended for loan approval.
Of the 10 applications received by Mayo County Council, just three were approved and in Kildare 42 applications were received with 19 of these approved.
Responding to a parliamentary question from Mr Ó Broin, Housing Minister Darragh O'Brien said: "Each local authority must have in place a credit committee and it is a matter for the committee to make the decision on applications for loans, in accordance with the regulations, having regard to the recommendations made by the Housing Agency."
Mr Ó Broin said he is not arguing for "reckless lending" as too many people had been lumped with unmanageable debt during the Celtic Tiger.
However, he said there are a number of problems with the current scheme.
He pointed to a problem around the level of funding that can be provided under the loan and said the Rebuilding Ireland scheme will never work if it doesn't allow people to buy homes.
"The loan doesn't actually work in the areas where needed the most, which is in the cities. That's why the drawdown for example in places like Dublin was much lower before Covid than the drawdown in other areas, compared to the approval."
He described a ban on allowing drawdowns to people on the Wage Subsidy Scheme as "very unfair" as many of these people are still in full-time employment and are receiving the same pay as before the pandemic.
He called for case-by-case assessments for those hoping to draw down a Rebuilding Ireland home loan.