Housing Shared Equity Loan Scheme: Motion (Resumed) [Private Members]

The following motion was moved by Deputy Eoin Ó Broin on Wednesday, 3 March 2021:
That Dáil Éireann:
notes that:
- after much delay the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Darragh O’Brien, has brought forward his affordable housing plan;
- much of that plan, including the Land Development Agency, the Serviced Sites Fund and the Cost Rental Scheme, are continuations of the last Government’s housing policy;
- the only new element that the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Darragh O’Brien, has brought to the plan is an Affordable Purchase Shared Equity Scheme for first-time buyers;
- this scheme was not included in Fianna Fáil’s election manifesto or previously stated Fianna Fáil policy;
- the origins of the scheme are two policy papers published by Irish Institutional Property and Property Industry Ireland in March and May 2020;
- these proposals were based on a shared equity loan scheme in operation in England and Wales since 2013;
- in 2015, a report by Shelter concluded that the English scheme ‘increased house prices by 3 per cent’;
- in 2019, a report by the House of Commons National Audit Office (NAO) found that house price inflation for new build homes was 3 per cent higher than for second-hand homes since the shared equity scheme was introduced;
- in 2020, a report published by the Centre for Economic Performance at the London School of Economics (LSE) found that in London the Shared Equity Loan Scheme 'led to a 6 per cent increase in house prices’;
- while the NAO report concluded that the scheme increased the supply of new homes by 14 per cent, it also increased demand by 37 per cent, while the LSE report stated that the scheme ‘stimulated housing construction in the wrong areas’;
- in 2019, a report by the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee concluded that ‘three-fifths of buyers who took part in the scheme did not need its support to buy a property’;
- in September 2020, officials in the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform expressed concern that a shared equity loan scheme ‘will push up prices’;
- in September 2020, the Secretary General of the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, Robert Watt, said ‘the property industry wants an equity scheme because it will increase prices’;
- in September 2020, at a meeting between the Department of Finance and the Central Bank of Ireland, concerns were raised that the shared equity scheme could ‘impact on prices’;
- on 16th February, 2021, the Economic and Social Research Institute told the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Housing, Local Government and Heritage that the proposed shared equity scheme ‘will very likely lead to higher house prices’; and
- on 22nd February, 2021, nine Fine Gael Councillors on Dublin City Council, including a close political associate of the Minister for Finance, Paschal Donohoe, wrote to the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, urging him to scrap the Affordable Purchase Shared Equity Scheme as it risked a ‘return to failed housing policies of the Celtic Tiger era’;
is of the strong view that:
- the Government’s shared equity scheme does not make homes more affordable;
- the scheme risks pushing up house prices and burdening working people with unsustainable debt;
- the scheme will benefit significant numbers of people who already have sufficient funding to purchase a home;
- the scheme will expose the State and taxpayer to significant liabilities in the event of a future property downturn; and
- the scheme will breach the Central Bank of Ireland’s macro-prudential lending rules if the banks are allowed to become participants in the equity loan; and
urges the Government to:
- remove the Affordable Purchase Shared Equity Scheme from the General Scheme and final version of the Affordable Housing Bill 2020; and
- re-profile the €75 million allocated to the Affordable Purchase Shared Equity Scheme in Budget 2021 to the Serviced Sites Fund, to allow for an increased delivery of local authority and Approved Housing Bodies affordable homes to rent and buy.
Debate resumed on amendment No. 1:
To delete all words after “Dáil Éireann” and substitute the following:
“notes that significant progress has been made on an extensive range of measures included in the Programme for Government - Our Shared Future, building on the initiatives already undertaken and in progress, which are now being brought forward by the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, to support individuals and families to access affordable housing, in particular:
— this Government is delivering on its commitment to ensure that everybody has access to good-quality housing, to purchase or rent at an affordable price;
— Budget 2021 included €3.3 billion for housing, a 24 per cent increase on 2020, and the highest investment in housing by any Government in a single year;
— the Minister, working across Government and with all housing delivery partners, is delivering on the Government’s Programme for Government objectives to:
— put affordability at the heart of the housing system;
— bring forward proposals for State-backed affordable home purchase schemes to promote home ownership; and
— deliver the State’s first ever cost rental homes;
— to this end, since taking Office, the Minister has already published the Affordable Housing Bill 2020 and introduced the Land Development Agency Bill 2021 to the Oireachtas;
— both of these significant pieces of legislation will facilitate immediate direct delivery of affordable housing, targeting middle income earners facing high rents and often out of reach purchase prices for new high-quality homes, while supporting the expansion of the affordable housing sector in Ireland over the short to medium-term;
— to provide financial support for affordable housing, €620 million was provided in Budget 2021 for new and existing affordable housing measures, with a focus on immediately stimulating supply;
— Budget 2021, together with focusing on delivering over 6,200 directly supplied homes by local authorities under the €310 million Serviced Sites Fund, introduced a new Affordable Purchase Shared Equity Scheme to target first-time buyers with a help to buy scheme;
— Budget 2021 also introduced a new Cost Rental Equity Loan, to deliver the first ever cost rental properties by Approved Housing Bodies in areas of high demand and high housing costs, with the Exchequer funding supplemented by Housing Finance Agency low cost, long-term finance, making €135 million available in total; and
— the Minister has already announced the first 390 new cost rental homes targeted to be delivered this year under the new scheme, with the additional 50 cost rental homes at Enniskerry Road, Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown which are also due to be completed this year and supported by the Department’s Serviced Sites Fund;
in terms of new measures, further notes that:
— the Irish housing system needs to provide additional new homes to meet current and future demand while new homes cost more than second-hand homes due to the enhanced quality and energy efficiency making viability an issue and meaning that home ownership is pushed further away from individuals and families starting out in life;
— in recent years, first-time buyers have increasingly shifted to buying second-hand homes and the stock of such homes for sale is diminishing;
— planning permissions for new homes have maintained strong growth but commencements have decreased recently;
— it is critical that new supply of affordable starter homes is encouraged and that overall supply increases by circa 40 per cent over the immediate period ahead, to meet the demand as Ireland’s economy recovers from Covid-19; and
— relying on any one measure or one channel of supply would be very high risk and would be limited by each sector’s capacity to deliver, instead all channels, State and non-State, are being mobilised to support affordable housing delivery;
in terms of the new Affordable Purchase Shared Equity Scheme, also notes that:
— the scheme is one short-term, targeted measure in a multi-faceted approach to increasing housing affordability;
— the scheme was devised in consultation with other Government Departments and housing delivery partners, in order to provide an immediate boost to first-time buyers for new homes;
— the proposal has gone through the rigorous cross-Government policy development processes with a mandate given to the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage to design the scheme for Government consideration;
— the scheme continues to be developed in close consultation with relevant Government Departments, housing delivery partners, international comparator bodies and other key stakeholders;
— with final parameters of the shared equity scheme close to finalisation, but not yet announced, the stance taken by the opposition is premature and based on incomplete information;
— the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage has examined and assessed the impact of similar schemes in other jurisdictions, including England, learning from experience in developing the Irish scheme;
— the United Kingdom (UK) scheme, for example, has supported some 250,000 home purchases, and is considered to have met its objectives with a 2019 report from the UK National Audit Office finding that the English ‘Help to Buy: Equity Loan’ scheme increased overall supply by 14.5 per cent, while increasing purchase prices for buyers in the scheme by less than 1 per cent on a like-for-like basis;
— the Irish shared equity scheme will be more targeted than other international schemes to ensure it delivers on its objectives of helping first-time buyers, who need it, into new homes sooner, while at the same time encouraging and increasing new build supply to meet that realisable demand;
— the State’s financial exposure in the shared equity scheme is €75 million, just over 2 per cent of the State’s housing budget in 2021, and this can support an estimated 2,000 first-time buyers to realise their aspiration of buying a new home, representing 10 per cent of new homes built last year, and overall a targeted and time bound scheme could support 8,000 new home purchases over a three year period;
— taking on board legitimate concerns that any new market-based scheme could have unintended consequences, the Government are ensuring safeguards are being built in to tailor eligibility to meet individual affordability needs only, and to manage prices through area-based price caps; and
— the scheme will be reviewed after one year to ensure it remains on track to meet objectives; and
furthermore, notes the Government’s intention to:
— accelerate and expand affordable housing delivery in the context of the ongoing review of the National Development Plan and the new housing strategy being prepared by the Minister;
— fully utilise the provisions of the Affordable Housing Bill 2020 and the Land Development Agency Bill 2021, to support affordable housing delivery by local authorities, approved housing bodies, the Land Development Agency (LDA) and through all other channels;
— accelerate delivery of affordable homes by local authorities under the €310 million Serviced Sites Fund, to deliver 6,200 new affordable homes and bring forward proposals to expand the scope and potential of the fund;
— maximise the existing Help to Buy Scheme, which has already seen approvals of more than 22,000 applications, and the Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan, which has lending of €354 million since 2018;
— expand Part V of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009, to encompass affordable as well as social housing;
— mobilise the LDA to work with local authorities, State agencies and other stakeholders to deliver affordable housing by leveraging its expertise and the €1.25 billion in Ireland Strategic Investment Fund funding and land bank available to it; and
— build sustainable mixed communities, avoiding over-concentration of any particular housing types in areas, by requiring local authorities to complete Housing Need and Demand Assessments to inform the delivery of an appropriate mix of housing typologies to cater for the needs of disparate household types and sizes, and thereafter by delivering affordable housing to complement the planned increase in the social housing stock of more than 50,000 homes, to help meet those needs.”
- (Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage)

I must now deal with a postponed division relating to amendment No. 1 in the name of the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage to the motion on the Housing Shared Equity Loan Scheme. On Wednesday, 3 March 2021, on the question, "That the amendment be made", a division was claimed and under Standing Order 80(2) that division must be taken now.

Amendment put:
The Dáil divided: Tá, 83; Níl, 52; Staon, 0.

  • Berry, Cathal.
  • Brophy, Colm.
  • Browne, James.
  • Bruton, Richard.
  • Burke, Colm.
  • Burke, Peter.
  • Byrne, Thomas.
  • Cahill, Jackie.
  • Calleary, Dara.
  • Canney, Seán.
  • Cannon, Ciarán.
  • Carey, Joe.
  • Carroll MacNeill, Jennifer.
  • Chambers, Jack.
  • Collins, Niall.
  • Costello, Patrick.
  • Cowen, Barry.
  • Creed, Michael.
  • Crowe, Cathal.
  • Devlin, Cormac.
  • Dillon, Alan.
  • Donnelly, Stephen.
  • Duffy, Francis Noel.
  • Durkan, Bernard J.
  • English, Damien.
  • Farrell, Alan.
  • Feighan, Frankie.
  • Fitzpatrick, Peter.
  • Flaherty, Joe.
  • Flanagan, Charles.
  • Fleming, Sean.
  • Foley, Norma.
  • Grealish, Noel.
  • Griffin, Brendan.
  • Harris, Simon.
  • Haughey, Seán.
  • Heydon, Martin.
  • Higgins, Emer.
  • Hourigan, Neasa.
  • Humphreys, Heather.
  • Kehoe, Paul.
  • Lahart, John.
  • Lawless, James.
  • Leddin, Brian.
  • Lowry, Michael.
  • Madigan, Josepha.
  • Martin, Catherine.
  • Matthews, Steven.
  • McAuliffe, Paul.
  • McConalogue, Charlie.
  • McEntee, Helen.
  • McGrath, Michael.
  • Moynihan, Aindrias.
  • Moynihan, Michael.
  • Murnane O'Connor, Jennifer.
  • Murphy, Eoghan.
  • Murphy, Verona.
  • Naughton, Hildegarde.
  • Noonan, Malcolm.
  • O'Brien, Darragh.
  • O'Brien, Joe.
  • O'Callaghan, Jim.
  • O'Connor, James.
  • O'Dea, Willie.
  • O'Donnell, Kieran.
  • O'Donovan, Patrick.
  • O'Dowd, Fergus.
  • O'Gorman, Roderic.
  • O'Sullivan, Christopher.
  • O'Sullivan, Pádraig.
  • Ó Cathasaigh, Marc.
  • Ó Cuív, Éamon.
  • Rabbitte, Anne.
  • Richmond, Neale.
  • Ring, Michael.
  • Ryan, Eamon.
  • Shanahan, Matt.
  • Smith, Brendan.
  • Smyth, Niamh.
  • Smyth, Ossian.
  • Stanton, David.
  • Troy, Robert.
  • Varadkar, Leo.

Níl

  • Andrews, Chris.
  • Boyd Barrett, Richard.
  • Brady, John.
  • Browne, Martin.
  • Buckley, Pat.
  • Cairns, Holly.
  • Carthy, Matt.
  • Clarke, Sorca.
  • Collins, Michael.
  • Conway-Walsh, Rose.
  • Cronin, Réada.
  • Crowe, Seán.
  • Cullinane, David.
  • Daly, Pa.
  • Donnelly, Paul.
  • Ellis, Dessie.
  • Farrell, Mairéad.
  • Fitzmaurice, Michael.
  • Funchion, Kathleen.
  • Gannon, Gary.
  • Gould, Thomas.
  • Guirke, Johnny.
  • Howlin, Brendan.
  • Kelly, Alan.
  • Kenny, Gino.
  • Kenny, Martin.
  • Kerrane, Claire.
  • Mac Lochlainn, Pádraig.
  • McGrath, Mattie.
  • Mitchell, Denise.
  • Munster, Imelda.
  • Murphy, Catherine.
  • Mythen, Johnny.
  • Nash, Ged.
  • O'Callaghan, Cian.
  • O'Reilly, Louise.
  • O'Rourke, Darren.
  • Ó Broin, Eoin.
  • Ó Murchú, Ruairí.
  • Ó Ríordáin, Aodhán.
  • Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.
  • Quinlivan, Maurice.
  • Ryan, Patricia.
  • Sherlock, Sean.
  • Shortall, Róisín.
  • Smith, Bríd.
  • Smith, Duncan.
  • Tóibín, Peadar.
  • Tully, Pauline.
  • Ward, Mark.
  • Whitmore, Jennifer.
  • Wynne, Violet-Anne.

Staon

Tellers: Tá, Deputies Brendan Griffin and Jack Chambers; Níl, Deputies Denise Mitchell and Pádraig Mac Lochlainn.
Amendment declared carried.
Question put: "That the motion, as amended, be agreed to."
The Dáil divided: Tá, 82; Níl, 56; Staon, 0.

  • Berry, Cathal.
  • Brophy, Colm.
  • Browne, James.
  • Bruton, Richard.
  • Burke, Colm.
  • Burke, Peter.
  • Byrne, Thomas.
  • Cahill, Jackie.
  • Calleary, Dara.
  • Canney, Seán.
  • Cannon, Ciarán.
  • Carey, Joe.
  • Carroll MacNeill, Jennifer.
  • Chambers, Jack.
  • Collins, Niall.
  • Costello, Patrick.
  • Cowen, Barry.
  • Creed, Michael.
  • Crowe, Cathal.
  • Devlin, Cormac.
  • Dillon, Alan.
  • Donnelly, Stephen.
  • Duffy, Francis Noel.
  • Durkan, Bernard J.
  • English, Damien.
  • Farrell, Alan.
  • Feighan, Frankie.
  • Fitzpatrick, Peter.
  • Flaherty, Joe.
  • Flanagan, Charles.
  • Fleming, Sean.
  • Foley, Norma.
  • Grealish, Noel.
  • Griffin, Brendan.
  • Harris, Simon.
  • Haughey, Seán.
  • Heydon, Martin.
  • Higgins, Emer.
  • Hourigan, Neasa.
  • Humphreys, Heather.
  • Kehoe, Paul.
  • Lahart, John.
  • Lawless, James.
  • Leddin, Brian.
  • Lowry, Michael.
  • Madigan, Josepha.
  • Martin, Catherine.
  • Matthews, Steven.
  • McAuliffe, Paul.
  • McConalogue, Charlie.
  • McEntee, Helen.
  • McGrath, Michael.
  • Moynihan, Aindrias.
  • Moynihan, Michael.
  • Murnane O'Connor, Jennifer.
  • Murphy, Eoghan.
  • Naughton, Hildegarde.
  • Noonan, Malcolm.
  • O'Brien, Darragh.
  • O'Brien, Joe.
  • O'Callaghan, Jim.
  • O'Connor, James.
  • O'Dea, Willie.
  • O'Donnell, Kieran.
  • O'Donovan, Patrick.
  • O'Dowd, Fergus.
  • O'Gorman, Roderic.
  • O'Sullivan, Christopher.
  • O'Sullivan, Pádraig.
  • Ó Cathasaigh, Marc.
  • Ó Cuív, Éamon.
  • Rabbitte, Anne.
  • Richmond, Neale.
  • Ring, Michael.
  • Ryan, Eamon.
  • Shanahan, Matt.
  • Smith, Brendan.
  • Smyth, Niamh.
  • Smyth, Ossian.
  • Stanton, David.
  • Troy, Robert.
  • Varadkar, Leo.

Níl

  • Andrews, Chris.
  • Barry, Mick.
  • Boyd Barrett, Richard.
  • Brady, John.
  • Browne, Martin.
  • Buckley, Pat.
  • Cairns, Holly.
  • Carthy, Matt.
  • Clarke, Sorca.
  • Collins, Michael.
  • Connolly, Catherine.
  • Conway-Walsh, Rose.
  • Cronin, Réada.
  • Crowe, Seán.
  • Cullinane, David.
  • Daly, Pa.
  • Donnelly, Paul.
  • Ellis, Dessie.
  • Farrell, Mairéad.
  • Fitzmaurice, Michael.
  • Funchion, Kathleen.
  • Gannon, Gary.
  • Gould, Thomas.
  • Guirke, Johnny.
  • Howlin, Brendan.
  • Kelly, Alan.
  • Kenny, Gino.
  • Kenny, Martin.
  • Kerrane, Claire.
  • Mac Lochlainn, Pádraig.
  • McGrath, Mattie.
  • Mitchell, Denise.
  • Munster, Imelda.
  • Murphy, Catherine.
  • Murphy, Paul.
  • Mythen, Johnny.
  • Nash, Ged.
  • O'Callaghan, Cian.
  • O'Reilly, Louise.
  • O'Rourke, Darren.
  • Ó Broin, Eoin.
  • Ó Murchú, Ruairí.
  • Ó Ríordáin, Aodhán.
  • Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.
  • Pringle, Thomas.
  • Quinlivan, Maurice.
  • Ryan, Patricia.
  • Sherlock, Sean.
  • Shortall, Róisín.
  • Smith, Bríd.
  • Smith, Duncan.
  • Tóibín, Peadar.
  • Tully, Pauline.
  • Ward, Mark.
  • Whitmore, Jennifer.
  • Wynne, Violet-Anne.

Staon

Tellers: Tá, Deputies Brendan Griffin and Jack Chambers; Níl, Deputies Denise Mitchell and Pádraig Mac Lochlainn.
Question declared carried.