As announced in my Budget speech on 10 October 2017, Home Building Finance Ireland (HBFI) is to be established to provide funding on market terms to viable residential development projects whose owners are experiencing difficulty in obtaining debt funding. Up to €750 million of ISIF funds will be allocated to HBFI to provide funding on market terms and the fund is estimated to have capacity to finance about 6,000 homes in the coming years.
The passage of legislation establishing HBFI is a priority for the Department of Finance. The Government approved the General Scheme of the HBFI Bill on 30 January 2018. Officials in the Department of Finance are actively engaging with the Office of Parliamentary Counsel (OPC) as part of the drafting process. I am informed that the drafting is progressing well and, absent any unforeseen issues, I intend to publish the Bill in the coming weeks.
In parallel to the ongoing work involved in drafting the text of the Bill, officials in my department have been engaging with the European Commission in order to ensure that the establishment and operation of HBFI does not breach EU State aid rules. In order to ensure that HBFI will comply with such rules it is essential that the published Bill provides that HBFI will lend only to commercially viable developments and on market equivalent terms and conditions.
Once published, I am hopeful that the Oireachtas will be in a position to pass the HBFI Bill before the end of the Spring/Summer legislative term, with a view to HBFI commencing operations later in 2018.