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‘I don’t know how you would do that’ – Tanaiste Leo Varadkar says first-time buyers won’t be exempt from extra costs of concrete block levy

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Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said he doesn’t know how first-time buyers could be exempt from the concrete block levy, which is expected to add around €1,600 on the price of a house. Photo: Alexandros Michailidis

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said he doesn’t know how first-time buyers could be exempt from the concrete block levy, which is expected to add around €1,600 on the price of a house. Photo: Alexandros Michailidis

A protestor holds up some mica bricks outside Leinster House last February. Photo: Gareth Chaney/ Collins Photos

A protestor holds up some mica bricks outside Leinster House last February. Photo: Gareth Chaney/ Collins Photos

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Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said he doesn’t know how first-time buyers could be exempt from the concrete block levy, which is expected to add around €1,600 on the price of a house. Photo: Alexandros Michailidis

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has poured cold water on the possibility of first time buyers being exempt from a levy on concrete blocks.

The Taoiseach indicated over the weekend that first-time buyers may be exempt from the additional costs on the price of a house from the levy.

The 10pc levy was announced on Budget Day to raise funds toward the mica, pyrite and defective apartment redress schemes which are worth billions of euro.

A group of Fianna Fáil TDs led by ministers Michael McGrath and Darragh O’Brien will discuss “issues” with the proposed concrete levy block after backbenchers raised concerns over it.

Mr Varadkar said he doesn’t know how first-time buyers could be exempt from the levy, which is expected to add around €1,600 on the price of a house. However, this could rise as high as €4,000.

“I just don’t know how you would do that, the levy falls on a concrete block and I don’t see how you would be able to exempt any particular group,” he said.

“If you did do that, other groups would make a very good case for being exempt too.

“Take for example, a family living in a very overcrowded apartment who are finally able to upgrade and buy a house for the first time. Would they then have to bear a higher cost? That’s always a difficulty when you try to exempt one group, you then put a bigger burden on another group,” said Mr Varadkar.

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A protestor holds up some mica bricks outside Leinster House last February. Photo: Gareth Chaney/ Collins Photos

A protestor holds up some mica bricks outside Leinster House last February. Photo: Gareth Chaney/ Collins Photos

A protestor holds up some mica bricks outside Leinster House last February. Photo: Gareth Chaney/ Collins Photos

He said Government should “stand” by the levy to help pay for the redress schemes for defective homes.

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“We’ve committed to spend a lot of money over the next decade repairing homes in Donegal and Mayo that need to be repaired. I think we’re going to have to make a similar commitment in relation to the defective apartment blocks in our cities. That’s a financial commitment of several billion euro even spread out over a number of years.

“I don’t think you can just say it comes out of general taxation. We need a revenue stream against that and the fairest way to do it is a levy against the construction industry and that’s what we intend to do.”

Government figures have reiterated in recent days the details of the levy which will be in the updated Finance Bill, to be brought forward by Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe.

The Taoiseach said over the weekend it is not the Government’s “objective” to put an “imposition” on first-time buyers.

Sinn Féin has urged the Government to scrap the levy.


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