Tuesday, 3 February 2004

Questions (382, 383, 384, 385, 386, 387)

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

512 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the number of affordable houses built and occupied in County Kildare since the inception of the scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3210/04]

View answer

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

513 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the number of affordable houses provided throughout the country occupied to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3211/04]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 512 and 513 together.

Information on activity under the affordable housing schemes for each local authority is published in my Department's Housing Statistics Bulletins, copies of which are available in the Oireachtas Library.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

514 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the way in which it is intended that a person or a couple can provide themselves with a home of their own, if their income is €10,000 above the maximum qualifying income limit for shared ownership or other local authority loans and they will not be entertained by banks or building societies on the grounds of insufficiency of income; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3212/04]

View answer

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

516 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he has authorised an increase in the shared ownership and annuity loans in some local authorities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3214/04]

View answer

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

517 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government when he is likely to give directions to the various local authorities to increase the loan limits in respect of shared ownership or annuity loans, having particular regard to the fact that the present limit of €130,000 makes it impossible for young persons to provide themselves with a home; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3215/04]

View answer

I propose to take Questions Nos. 514, 516 and 517 together.

It is a matter for each local authority to administer house purchase loans in its area, having regard, as appropriate, to the housing needs and circumstances of their area. The income limit for eligibility for the shared ownership scheme and other house purchase loans is €32,000 for a single income household, with apro rata increase for a dual income household. While the income limit applying to these house purchase loans is set nationally, the application of maximum price limits and determination of the maximum mortgage loan in each case is a matter for the relevant local authority. In addition, local authorities should have regard to the purchaser's ability to repay by reference to his or her net household income.

The national maximum limit for house purchase loans advanced by local authorities is €130,000. My Department is keeping the terms of the income and loan limits under review, taking into account the movement in house prices, the effectiveness of various schemes in meeting the needs of the relevant target group and the availability of mortgage finance in the private sector.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

515 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the way in which it is intended that persons in a one income household earning €35,000 provide themselves with a home of their own, particularly if they are excluded from the local authority waiting lists; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3213/04]

View answer

The Government affords a high priority to housing issues as evidenced by the range of policies and measures employed by my Department and other public agencies involved to ensure that the broad spectrum of housing needs is appropriately met.

We have placed a strong emphasis on increasing housing supply to meet demand, particularly for first-time buyers, against a background of unprecedented demand for housing, fuelled mainly by rapid economic growth and demographic changes. The measures introduced by the Government to boost supply and thereby improve affordability, including significant investment in infrastructure, improving planning capacity and promoting increased residential densities, are having effect. The year 2002 was the eighth successive year of record house completions, with 57,695 units completed, which represents an increase in output of 9.7% nationally and more than a 30% increase in the Dublin area on the corresponding figures for 2001. I expect that in excess of 60,000 units were completed nationally in 2003. Indicative data available to my Department show that first-time buyers continue to have a significant presence in the housing market. The Government will continue to focus on measures to maintain a high level of housing supply.

Government interventions have boosted the supply of affordable housing under targeted schemes for low and middle-income purchasers. I anticipate that the numbers of middle-income purchasers benefiting from affordable housing will further increase this year as more affordable housing comes on stream as a result of agreements under Part V of the Planning and Development Act 2000, as amended. In the first nine months of 2003 a total of 82 units were acquired and a further 449 units were in progress under Part V agreements. At end September 2003, a further 1,895 units were proposed.

The new affordable housing initiative introduced under the national partnership agreement, Sustaining Progress, is also being progressed as a priority. This new initiative is aimed at those who in the past would have expected to purchase a house from their own resources but find they are unable to do so in the current market. The Government made two announcements in July and December 2003 on the release of State and local authority lands in Dublin, Kildare, Meath, Cork and Waterford in regard to the initiative. This initiative, combined with Part V arrangements, will build on the progress made in delivering existing affordable housing schemes to boost the supply of affordable housing over the coming years.

At the same time, my Department keeps the terms of the income and loan limits which apply to local authority house purchase loans under review, taking into account the movement in house prices, the effectiveness of various schemes in meeting the needs of the relevant target group and the availability of mortgage finance in the private sector.

Questions Nos. 516 and 517 answered with Question No. 514.