Written Answers. - Housing Grants.

John Dennehy

Ceist:

377 Mr. Dennehy asked the Minister for the Environment and Local Government the number of persons who availed of the first-time buyers grant in each of the past three years; the cost of administering the scheme; the last time the allowance was increased; his views on the impact on the housing market in increasing the grant to a level of £5,000 (6,348); if he will consider making the grant available on a partial basis to first-time buyers purchasing second hand homes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27636/01]

The new house grant offers assistance to people who are first-time purchasers of new houses. Information regarding the number of new house grants approved and paid is contained in my Department's Annual Housing Statistics Bulletin 2000, copies of which are available from the Oireachtas Library. The new house grant scheme was last increased on 25 February 1993 from £2,000 (2,539) to £3,000 (3,809) when the VAT rate on construction work was being increased from 10% to 12.5%. Expenditure on the new house grants payments in 2000 was just over £30 (38) million and a provision of £30 (38) million has been made for 2001. The cost of administering the scheme in 2000 was approximately £1.9 (2.41) million. Increasing the new house grant to £5,000 (6,348), would cost the Exchequer an estimated £19 (24) million per annum, and would have no additional benefit to the first-time buyer as an increase would likely add to inflationary pressures in the new house market. I have no proposals to extend the scheme to include first-time purchasers of second hand houses.