Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Questions (486)

Robert Troy

Question:

486. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government when a new tenant purchase scheme will be introduced to enable local authority tenants purchase their homes and to ensure that any new scheme will not actively discriminate against persons on social welfare payments; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8054/13]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

My Department is currently considering the issues to be addressed in the General Scheme of the forthcoming Housing Bill that may include, among other things, proposals for a new scheme for the sale of local authority houses to tenants, based on the incremental purchase model.

Provisions governing mortgage lending by local authorities are set out under the Housing (Local Authority Loans) Regulations 2009 and associated credit policy. To ensure effective targeting of resources, loan finance continues to be available to first time buyers only. Income limits are also in place, distinguishing between single and dual income households and a maximum loan limit is applied. In assessing loan applications local authorities take account of the household’s ability to finance the loan based on their net household income. While, as a general rule, the credit policy provides that loans are not available to those in receipt of unemployment/social welfare benefits, an exception may be made where there is a primary income of a permanent waged/salaried nature, and where the secondary income is from the Department of Social Protection. In such cases long term social welfare payments can be considered, provided the long term nature of the payment is confirmed. The final decision on whether to grant/refuse an applicant lies solely with the relevant local authority. All local authorities must satisfy themselves on the financial risk they are undertaking.