HOUSING

Minister answers questions on Rebuilding Ireland Home Loans funding concerns

Tia Clarke

Reporter:

Tia Clarke

Email:

tia.clarke@dundalkdemocrat.ie

Laois County Council says Rebuilding Ireland home loan approvals are awaiting government guidance.

Rebuilding Ireland home loan approvals are awaiting government guidance up to few weeks ago

Senator Victor Boyhan has posed a question to Government officials regarding "the need for the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government to outline the outcome of discussions with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform about securing additional funding for the Rebuilding Ireland home scheme". 

The question came following news in mid-March that Rebuilding Ireland home loans were being issued by local county councils again following a two-week freeze on the loans being drawn down a number of weeks prior. 

Louth Housing Director Paddy Donnelly confirmed during the Dundalk Municipal District meeting in the second week of March that Louth County Council had been given directives to cease issuing loans under the program, despite a statement from the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government stating that the scheme was in “full operation”. 

In response to Senator Boyhan's question TD Ciaran Cannon, Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said it had been estimated that there would be a drawdown of €200 million in Rebuilding Ireland loans over a three year period. 

However, the TD went on to reveal: "By the end of January €106 million had been drawn down, which accounted for 53% of the available funding, at which point €66 million would have been more consistent with the expectation of funds being drawn down over a three year period. 

"The Minister informed the Dail on 29 January 2019 that the scheme had proven more successful than initially anticipated, and would require a further tranche of funds." 

He explained that a meeting with the Minister for Finance Public Expenditure and Reform took place on March 5, 2019 and added that "at no time was the first tranche of funding depleted". 

The TD added: "As of the end of January 2019, €106 million has been lent, supporting 575 individuals and families to buy their first home." 

According to Mr Cannon the "Minister is currently in discussions with the Minister for Finance Public Expenditure and Reform regarding further funding for the scheme". He added: "The Central Bank is also being consulted". 

Under the program, first-time buyers who had been refused mortgages by two banks were eligible to avail of a Government-backed mortgage from their local authority for up to 90% of the market value of the property.  

The Minister concluded: "Specific allocations to local authorities for 2019 will be finalised when those discussions have been concluded. However, in the meantime, the scheme remains open and all local authorities should continue to receive and process applications, up to and including the drawdown of funding as appropriate."