Sinn Féin has once again demonstrated its policies don’t stand up to scrutiny, with a proposal for public housing which leaves €1.8 billion unaccounted for, a Fine Gael Senator has said.
Waterford Senator John Cummins said Sinn Féin’s glaring black hole on the spend for housing provision emerged from a question the party’s spokesperson on Housing Eoin Ó’Broin asked Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien earlier this year.
Senator Cummins, Fine Gael’s Seanad spokesperson on Housing, said: “Sinn Féin has once again deliberately underestimated the cost of their core proposal to provide social and affordable housing, proving that without a magic money tree, their proposals simply do not stack up.
“Sinn Féin say they can build 20,000 public homes next year at a cost of €3 billion, which would amount to €150,000 per house. However the average cost of building a social home nationally is €240,000 according to figures from the Department of Housing. This would put the true cost of building 20,000 houses next year at €4.8 billion.
This information was revealed in a question Eoin O’Broin himself asked the Housing Minister back in March.
Senator Cummins continued: “Sinn Féin are constantly at pains to emphasise that their alternative budget is fully costed by the relevant Departments, so it’s odd that Deputy O’Broin conveniently chose to overlook the figures provided to him. However, the development should come as no surprise from a party with a track record of being economical with the truth.
“On the other hand, the Government has a plan to ensure our citizens have the option of owning their own home, clear targets have been set and the plan is backed by €20 billion of investment over the next 5 years.
“Under Housing for All, Government intends to introduce two affordable housing schemes next year, the “First Home Scheme” and the “Local Authority Affordable Purchase Scheme”, both of which are based on an equity model whereby the state will take an equity stake in the property being purchased to bridge the gap between the cost of the home and the approved mortgage amount.
“This contrasts to opposition proposals which would place a hold over the land in which the house is built and restrict who the property can be sold to in the future.
“Opposition can dress their schemes up all they like with phrases like ‘it will ensure permanent affordability’ but what they don’t tell you is that you will pay a mortgage of circa €200,000 over a 20 or 30 year period but you will never have the ability to own the home outright because you will never own the land on which the house is built.
“They also don’t tell you that you won’t be able to sell it on to whomever you like; you will be restricted to selling the property to someone who falls below a certain income threshold. When I explain both schemes to constituents, the answer is always loud and clear – they want support to get on their foot on the property ladder and they want the option of owning the house outright when their financial position allows. This is exactly what the Government will deliver.
“The extension of the Help to Buy scheme at 10% up to a maximum support level of €30,000 in Budget 2022 is also welcome news for those buying or building their first home.
“The latest figures from Revenue show 28,319 claims have been made under the Help to Buy scheme since its introduction by Fine Gael in 2017. That is 28,319 individuals and families that are in a brand-new home today that may not be, were it not for the Help to Buy scheme.
“While opposition parties like Sinn Féin criticise the scheme and want to abolish it immediately, young people who contact me in relation to housing see it as a very fair measure which enables them to reclaim four years’ worth of tax, up to a maximum of €30,000, and utilise it towards their deposit. I believe it is a no brainer for the State to give back and support individuals and families in owning their own home,” Senator Cummins concluded.