Thursday 27 October 2016

No flexibility for first-time buyers in Budget measure

Published 27/09/2016 | 02:30

Damien English. Photo: Tom Burke
Damien English. Photo: Tom Burke

No flexibility will be shown to first-time buyers who purchased a home before July as part of the financial assistance package to be announced in the Budget, the junior housing minister has said.

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Despite complaints from some TDs that anyone who bought a home in the weeks before the Government revealed its action plan on housing, Damien English said the issue is "black and white".

"There has to be a start date and it's difficult," he told the Irish Independent.

"There's not much you can do about that when you're dealing with a new scheme because it's a tax system that has to be dealt with in the Budget.

"There has to be a start date and an end date."

The Government is planning a package of measures - worth as much as €10,000 per person - aimed at helping young people afford their own homes as part of the Budget on October 11.

However, several TDs, including some Fine Gael backbenchers, believe it is unfair that it will only apply retrospectively to July 19. "When it comes to financial help it's very black and white," Mr English said.

"Everyone agrees that a first-time buyers grant or some kind of assistance towards purchasing a house or reducing the cost of a house if you bring it back to January, then some people will want to go back to December. There's no other way around it."

He said Housing Minister Simon Coveney needed to confirm a plan was being drawn up for first-time buyers in July because rumours were circulating that had the potential to stall market activity.

"There was a danger then that supply of housing would be reduced because of that. Whether we said it or not, everybody else was saying it and expecting it.

"If a market expects something in a budget, the market will wait for that. That had to be done because we didn't want people to stop building houses," the minister said.

Mr English yesterday attended a seminar on 'Housing, Homelessness and Rights' hosted by the Simon Community in Dublin. He told attendees that resolving the housing crisis was the "number one" priority for the Government but they faced many challenges.

Irish Independent

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