Saturday 3 December 2016

Review of Govt's help-to-buy scheme 'doing it arseways'

Published 23/11/2016 | 12:05

Pearse Doherty. Photo: Tom Burke
Pearse Doherty. Photo: Tom Burke

A REVIEW of the impact of the government’s Help-to-Buy scheme – to take place after it’s introduction - has been branded as “doing it arseways” by Pearse Doherty.

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The Sinn Féin TD made the remarks as the Dáil debates the Finance Bill, which includes the measure aimed at helping first-time buyers to purchase a new build home.

Labour TD Joan Burton sought an amendment to the Bill that would see the Finance Department draw up a report on the impact of the scheme.

Mr Doherty supported the amendment but said he believed such a report should have been done before the scheme was announced.

“I think having a report a year afterwards in terms of the impact on house process is doing it arseways,” he said.

Mr Doherty added: “The reality here is that the evidence is showing hat this measure will push up house prices.”

Finance minister Michael Noonan said that he has already committed to commissioning an independent impact assessment of the scheme to be completed by next September.

He pointed out this is in time for Budget 2018.

Mr Noonan said he couldn’t accept Ms Burton's amendment as it would narrow the scope of the broad review that he said will be carried out.

He added: “The Help-to-Buy scheme is a targeted scheme for first-time buyers of new homes. It’s quite limited. I expect it will work efficiently for that particular category but I’m not advancing it as some kind of overall cure to the housing crisis”.

He said the crisis is “multi-faceted” in its causes and effects.

Fianna Fáil’s Michael McGrath warned: “If this independent impact assessment finds that this intervention in the market is directly contributing to house-price inflation. Then you’re going to have to end the scheme.”

Mr Doherty said: “We don’t need an independent report. There’s enough evidence to suggest it’s pushing up house prices.”

He said his view is there is “no chance” the government will end the help-to-buy scheme in ten months time because by then prospective homeowners will be making plans, based on the “legitimate expectation” that it be in place.

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