Thursday, 25 November 2010
Dáil Éireann Debate
12. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government when the incremental purchase scheme will be fully operational; the rationale for the implementation of this scheme and if any modifications of the scheme are under consideration in light of the sustained fall in house prices. [44395/10]
Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government (Deputy John Gormley): Regulations to implement the Incremental Purchase Scheme for new homes were made in June 2010. Housing authorities are making the necessary arrangements to make the scheme fully operational.
Meeting the legitimate aspirations of many households for home ownership has traditionally been a key component of housing policy in Ireland. The Government’s housing policy statement, Delivering Homes, Sustaining Communities, emphasised the Government’s firm commitment to respond to the needs of households who face difficulty in resourcing home purchase on the open market. It remains Government policy that low-income earners be afforded the opportunity to purchase homes.
The incremental purchase scheme provides benefits both for the purchaser and the State. The scheme offers the earliest possible start on the path to home ownership for those willing and able to undertake a house purchase. It allows social housing tenants and persons who have an assessed housing need avail of attractive discounts, from 40% to 60% of the total cost of the house depending on income, to purchase a new home. The scheme is also structured to make it attractive for people to put down long-term roots in the community and to commit to an area, thereby contributing to more stable and integrated communities. For the State the scheme reduces management and maintenance costs and facilitates recycling of capital funding to provide additional social housing.
In the present constrained environment the demand for tenant purchase is understandably low. The number of tenant purchase sales has dropped from 1,855 in 2006 to 161 last year. This will certainly affect the early take up of the Incremental Purchase Scheme, but I expect, as confidence returns, that the scheme will prove an important instrument of housing policy.
Finally, I wish to refer to the announcement in June 2010 of the intention to replace the existing tenant purchase arrangements with a new scheme based on incremental purchase principles. This will allow tenants to buy their existing homes as well as giving them the choice to purchase a new local authority dwelling. This change will require amending legislation.
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