The Government is finalising a major budget package to help struggling first-time home buyers.
Housing Minister Simon Coveney confirmed yesterday the “significant initiative”, due to be announced by Finance Minister Michael Noonan on budget day, will help bridge the gap between soaring property prices and what first-time homebuyers can afford to borrow.
The so-called help-to-buy scheme is expected to include upfront tax repayments which could be worth up to €10,000 to couples.
However, Mr Coveney said any budgetary measures designed to tackle the housing crisis are likely to favour first-time buyers and the rental sector rather than developers, who have called for Vat cuts to make house building more affordable.
“The focus will be on first-time buyers to help them get their foot on the property ladder and help the rental sector grow,” he said.
“First-time buyers are the people who need help the most. About 53% of the house buying market are first-time buyers... But the majority of that 53% are simply locked out of the market, particularly in Dublin and Cork, because of where house prices are at. We need to address that in the budget and we’ll take a significant initiative to do that.”
The Government’s €5.35bn Rebuilding Ireland programme aims, by 2021, to double the annual output of private homes to 25,000, provide up to 47,000 social housing units, tackle homelessness and address issues in the private rented sector.
Cork City Council is to start work on 400 social housing units on 13 sites in the next six months, with the first proposal for 65 units on a site in Deanrock due before councillors on Monday.
City head of housing Valerie O’Sullivan said councils need to be given more autonomy to deliver social housing quickly: “During the period of austerity, there were levels of procedural oversight and bureaucracy that were very painstaking and time-consuming. If there is a housing crisis, we need a crisis management response.”
Security staff locked the doors of City Hall to prevent a Worker’s Party-organised protest gaining access.
Councillor Ted Tynan said: “I am an elected public representative and wasn’t allowed into the building. I am entitled to be there, to make a peaceful, and political protest.”
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