By James Ward, PA
Proposals to tackle investment funds pricing first-time buyers out of the housing market will be brought to Cabinet next week, the Tánaiste has said.
Leo Varadkar told the Dáil on Thursday that home ownership has been out of reach for young people for “far too long”.
The Tánaiste said investment funds were necessary when they came into the country a decade ago but that the policy now needs to change.
Speaking during Leaders’ Questions, he said: “Home ownership is now out of reach for far too many people, for far too long.
We have to build about 350,000 new homes in Ireland over the next 10 years, at a cost of about €120 billion. There's no way the State can finance that all on its own
“That does require a change of policy. One that prioritises first-time buyers and families who need to upgrade to a bigger home.
“For that reason, next Tuesday Cabinet will consider proposals to do exactly that. They’ll be brought forward by Minister Donohue and Minister O’Brien, and they will act quickly in that regard.”
Sinn Féin’s Pearse Doherty challenged the Tánaiste over a new report from the Central Statistics Office that showed a 4 per cent rise in house prices in 12 months.
He hit out at Fine Gael for voting against measures table by Sinn Féin to tackle investment funds in the last Finance Bill.
He said: “During that Finance Bill, your Government refused and voted against Sinn Féin’s proposal to examine the tax treatment of these funds.
“But last week, when the public attention was drawn to this issue, and when your policies have been laid bare, the devastating consequences are there for all to see.”
Mr Varadkar admitted that house prices have risen in the last year, but added: “We’ll need to see where that goes.”
"Leo always delivers" was the text that sparked what is now a criminal investigation into leaking confidential documents. But the question many people are asking is: When is Leo going to deliver for renters, or people who want to own their own home?– @PearseDoherty #HousingCrisis pic.twitter.com/aJUsiFkOr4
— Sinn Féin (@sinnfeinireland) May 13, 2021
He added: “That may change, that may stabilise or go a different direction in the next few months.
“A lot of statistics at the moment are thrown by the pandemic, we need to bear that in mind.”
He said that while homeownership levels in Ireland have fallen, it remains at between 65 per cent and 70 per cent, a figure higher than in “the US, UK, Germany, France, Australia, lots of other places.”
Private sector role
He said investment funds will still have a role to play in the housing market.
“We have to build about 350,000 new homes in Ireland over the next 10 years, at a cost of about €120 billion.
“There’s no way the State can finance that all on its own.
“So we need the private sector and public sector working together. We need public housing and we need private housing.”
Mr Varadkar declined to go into the details of the proposals to go before Cabinet on Tuesday.
Mr Doherty said the public wanted to know when the Government will deliver on housing.
“The question that a lot of people are asking is, when is Leo going to deliver for the renters? For people who want to own their own home in this city and beyond?
“When is Leo going to deliver to make sure that the wings of the vulture funds are clipped?”