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Help-to-buy scheme may be scrapped admits Housing Minister

Eoghan Murphy said that the possibility the help-to-buy scheme had had the opposite effect to that intended is “a concern”.

murphy Eoghan Murphy Source: RTÉ

NEW MINISTER FOR Housing Eoghan Murphy has acknowledged that he is to look at, and has concerns over, the government’s controversial help-to-buy scheme.

The scheme was first introduced in last October’s budget, and sees first time buyers of new build properties enabled to claim income tax and DIRT rebates over a period of four years.

Criticism of the scheme included the accusation that rather than helping to encourage building it was in fact pushing house prices further up.

Speaking on RTÉ’s The Week In Politics, Murphy acknowledged that the scheme is something he is ‘looking at’.

“We’re going to look at everything and see if we can do more,” he said. “Our focus is very much on the supply side, on how we can get vacant homes available again, getting new homes built.”

“We have a review under way at the moment, and I will wait until that review is concluded,” he said of the help-t0-buy scheme. Asked whether or not he was concerned that the scheme might in fact be inflationary, Murphy replied:

It is a concern of mine.

“I’m concerned that we haven’t achieved the delivery on the supply side that we need. My review we will be measuring the stock available, and aiming to get assets that art stranded, rooms above vacant shops, and empty houses back available for those who need them,” he said.

I have a new vacant sites strategy on my desk, and I’m going to be speaking to the Attorney General and the Minister for Finance to see what new levers we can use to unlock as many vacant sites as possible. But first we need to get an accurate number as to what can be released.

Murphy was also pressed on a signature claim of Coveney’s reign as Housing Minister – that all homeless families would be out of hotel accommodation by the end of July 2017.

Describing the claim as having been an “ambitious target”, Murphy said that he had demanded a meeting with the heads of the local authorities in order to see the state of play as to that target.

“When that’s completed, if we can’t meet it, I’ll be letting people know what we’re planning to do,” he said.

Read: Poll: Would you inform on your neighbours if you suspected they were welfare cheats?

Read: FactCheck: Did the government really save €500 million due to reported welfare fraud last year?

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