Tuesday 23 July 2019

FF to demand €200m scheme for affordable housing in Budget talks

Call: Fianna Fáil’s Darragh O’Brien said move was crucial part of plan. Photo: Tom Burke
Call: Fianna Fáil’s Darragh O’Brien said move was crucial part of plan. Photo: Tom Burke
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Fianna Fáil is demanding a €200m affordable housing scheme in the Budget to see the provision of 4,000 homes for as little as €160,000.

The party's housing spokesman, Darragh O'Brien, said that "an absolutely crucial" part of Fianna Fáil's insistence is that there will be a 'housing Budget' this year.

If implemented, the plan would be for homes built on State-owned land to be subsidised by an average of €50,000 each.

Mr O'Brien said the affordability issue is acute in the major cities including Dublin where the average price stands at around €375,000.

He added that under the proposals: "We're looking at affordable housing people would be able to buy. It's probably in the region of €160,000 to €200,000."

He said that's using the Central Bank's definition of affordability as three-and-a-half times a person's income and that an average worker on €45,000 can afford around €160,000.

Mr O'Brien said prices could vary due to "localised levels of affordability".

He also said that like a previous affordable housing scheme that was in effect up to 2011 there would be a "claw-back period" to prevent profiteering.

Mr O'Brien views the €200m fund sought in the Budget as kick-starting a €2bn-a-year affordable housing system that his party ultimately wants to introduce if it wins power in the next election.

Mr O'Brien said Fianna Fáil is open to "tweaks here and there" on the €200m fund proposal and said he wasn't going to "get into drawing red lines" as the Budget talks have just started.

But he also said: "We've said it has to be a housing Budget... Affordable homes for working people is an absolutely crucial part of that."

The proposals are among several in the housing sphere being put forward by the party's Budget negotiators Michael McGrath and Barry Cowen in their talks with Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe.

Last week the Irish Independent revealed the party is pushing for tax breaks for landlords who offer tenants more security with longer leases.

At his Fianna Fáil think-in meeting, leader Micheál Martin claimed that there has been a "scandalous lack of delivery in terms of housing" by the Government.

However, he reiterated that his party won't support Sinn Féin's planned motion of no confidence in Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy.

"Motions don't build houses," he said.

"They have absolutely no impact in terms of providing affordable housing for young couples."

Irish Independent

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