ANOTHER week goes by and another Fianna Fáil housing proposal which bears all the hallmarks of pub talk has emerged, a Fine Gael TD has said.
Louth TD, Fergus O’Dowd, said that over the last few weeks we have had a series of policy initiatives from Fianna Fáil on housing which do not pass basic scrutiny.
“This latest one will actually incentivise institutional investors to stop providing social housing in developments, rather than do anything to help first time buyers. It does nothing for affordability, and it’s unworkable. This bill does the exact opposite of what it claims to do. Such poorly thought out policies are quite dangerous.
“A few weeks ago, they had a plan to have a lower VAT rate for first-time buyers that is illegal under EU law. Last week, they had another plan that is illegal under EU law – this time to force the Central Bank to change the macro-prudential rules.
“This week, they have Darragh O’Brien’s incredibly weak First Time Buyers Bill which is so poorly thought out that one wonders what he has been doing for the eighteen months he has been FF’s housing spokesperson.
“The Bill talks about backing First-Time Buyers – a worthy goal but basic scrutiny of the Bill itself exposes its cynical lack of depth. Uniquely for a first-time buyer support it would not have an affordability requirement – so the homes for first-time buyers could be the most expensive in the development, helping those who need help the least.
“This is the exact opposite of the Government’s Help to Buy Scheme which has supported more than 15,000 first-time buyers in purchasing their own home over the past three years and is capped at €500,000.
“Other affordability measures in place include the Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan, which has helped more than 1,250 homeowners, and the Local Infrastructure Housing Activation Fund (LIHAF) which will support delivery of 20,000 homes, 40% of which will have a cost reduction. The Serviced Sites Fund will help deliver an additional 6,200 homes for affordable purchase or cost rental.
“Nor does this Fianna Fáil Bill provide any detail as to how the first-time buyer sales would work. Who would be responsible for ensuring the first-time buyers were first-time buyers? And what are the sanctions for a failure to comply? Absolutely none.
“In addition to that, for some bizarre reason, the Fianna Fáil Bill also includes a provision that where build-to-rent units are being developed, the local authority has the discretion to remove the application of Part V of the Planning Acts. Part V includes the requirement that 10% of a housing development be used for social housing.
“Deputy O’Brien talks a great talk about backing first-time buyers. However, the only actual impact that this Bill will have is to remove the social housing requirement for build-to-rent developments.
“I would call on all the other parties in the Dáil to reject this poorly thought out Bill. It behoves the Dáil to debate the substance of the legislation and not to pass bills that are little more than press release fodder,” Deputy O’Dowd of Fine Gael said.