Thomas Pringle TD

Pringle: Government shared equity scheme will drive up house prices

Independent TD for Donegal, Thomas Pringle, said the Government’s shared equity scheme will drive up house prices and called on Government to remove it from the Affordable Housing Bill 2021.

Deputy Pringle said: “There is no doubt that we all want affordable housing. There is also no doubt that the reality of affordability and the skewed ideas of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael are miles apart.”

Addressing the Dáil today, Deputy Pringle said: “Actually, in a surprising turn of events, a number of Dublin City Council Fine Gael councillors have apparently written to you to urge you to scrap the shared equity scheme.

“These nine Fine Gael councillors, one of whom works with the Minister for Finance, have warned that this Fianna Fáil ‘demand-side measure’, risks a ‘return to failed housing policies of the Celtic Tiger era’.”

Deputy Pringle said the Central Bank and the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) have also said the shared equity part of the scheme will likely lead to house price increases. He said ESRI researchers told a Joint Housing Committee meeting yesterday that the “constrained” state of the housing sector means that the scheme “will very likely lead to higher house prices”.

“Constrained is certainly a constrained way of describing our housing supply,” Deputy Pringle said.

He said: “I was looking on and there are zero properties to rent in Killybegs and just 40 to rent in Donegal. While house prices aren’t off the scale like they are in Dublin or other urban centres, Donegal had the third-highest average increase in house prices across the country.”

He said that in response to a number of parliamentary questions he asked about the state of housing in Donegal, he learned that the total number of households qualified for social housing support in Donegal in 2019 was 926.

Deputy Pringle said: “Yet, at the end of Quarter 3, 2020, there were almost 1,900 people in HAP properties and an additional 510 in active RAS tenancies.” He learned in a further PQ reply that the 2020 social housing assessment report was delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The deputy said that the shared equity scheme has resulted in higher house prices in the UK, and in September 2020, officials in Ireland’s Department of Public Expenditure and Reform expressed concern that a shared equity loan scheme will push up prices.

Deputy Pringle said the Government must remove the shared equity scheme from the final version of the Affordable Housing Bill 2021.

He concluded: “The €75 million allocated to the scheme should be redirected to the Serviced Sites Fund, for local authorities and approved housing bodies delivery of affordable homes to rent and buy.

“The electorate will not allow Fianna Fáil to try and make a joke of them once again by lining developers’ pockets under the guise of providing much-needed housing.”