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Taoiseach Simon Harris (centre) was joined by Minister for Environment Eamon Ryan and Minister for Housing Darragh O'Brien for the quarterly update on progress under Housing for All. ©
first time buyers

Four in 10 people getting support via First Home Scheme are single, minister says

Sinn Féin, meanwhile, said the Government is “taking people for fools”.


FOUR IN 10 people getting support to buy a house via the First Home Scheme are single people, the Housing Minister has said.

Speaking at the latest update on the Government’s Housing for All plan, Darragh O’Brien said many single people face a “real challenge” when trying to buy their own home as they are relying on just one salary.

“It’s very interesting, in the First Home Scheme we’re seeing about four in 10 of the buyers using that actually being single people,” O’Brien stated. 

Since its launch in July 2022, over 4,000 individuals and couples have availed of the First Home Scheme.

There were over 800 approvals under the scheme in the first three months of this year, up around 38% compared to the same period in 2023. Some 262 homes were purchased via the scheme in the first quarter of 2024.

Under the scheme, the Government and participating banks pay up to 30% of the cost of a new home in return for a stake in the home. If the buyer wants, they can buy back the stake but they don’t have to.

O’Brien today said the Government has committed a further €40 million to the scheme.

When asked about the difficulties faced by many people when trying to buy their own home, O’Brien said those who are renting or “are still living with their folks” have options such as the First Home Scheme and the Help to Buy grant.

Taoiseach Simon Harris said these two schemes are the “most obvious direct interventions by Government to help people with affordability”.

He added that the Government is also making efforts to increase supply in order to have “a positive effect on demand and affordability”.


Earlier this month at the Fine Gael Ard Fheis, Harris predicted that Ireland can build 250,000 new homes between 2025 and 2030.

Speaking today, he said he expects this figure to be in revised targets issued by the Government later this year.

He said the 250,000 figure is “roughly where I expect the landing zone to be”.

Harris said there is “absolutely a need to lift the scale of our ambition” and not doing so “would be very underwhelming for people living in box rooms” in their parents’ houses.

When asked how much an affordable home should cost, in his opinion, he said there “isn’t one single figure”.

The Taoiseach said, unlike Mary Lou McDonald, he would not give a specific figure – referring to a previous statement by the Sinn Féin leader that the average house price in Dublin should fall to €300,000. 

I’m not going to mislead the Irish people.

Harris told reporters: “There isn’t one single figure in relation to affordability because affordability varies depending on a person’s circumstances, depending on the composition of the family.

“And it also has to factor in a range of other issues in terms of Government intervention.”

Government ‘taking people for fools’

Responding to the update delivered today, Sinn Féin’s spokesperson on Housing Eoin Ó Broin said the Government is “taking people for fools”.

“There is no update on the number of social, affordable rental or affordable purchase homes delivered in the first quarter of this year.

“There is no update on the number of vacant property refurb grants drawn down, or first home loans actually drawn down in the first quarter of the year.

There is also no update on the number of new private homes to purchase coming to the market in the first three months of the year.

“This is important as too much of the modest increase in supply is being snapped up by the expensive built-to-rent sector, further deepening the affordable housing crisis.

“Nor is there any information on what Government intends to do this year to address rising homelessness, rising rents or rising house prices,” Ó Broin said.

Waiver of development levy

Building started on almost 12,000 new homes in the first three months of this year This is the highest Q1 figure since the Government began recording these numbers in 2014 and is up 63% on the same period last year, O’Brien said earlier.

However, the State missed its social housing targets in 2023. The Government built just over 8,000 social housing units last year, missing the goal of around 9,100.

“Go back two years, that was 5,400 – that’s a massive jump up. Yes, it didn’t meet the 9,100, but it was a very significant scaling up,” O’Brien said during the press conference.

There’s about 26,000 social homes in the pipeline, under construction or about to go under construction.

It was also confirmed today that the Cabinet has approved an extension of the waiver of the local authority section 48 development contributions to the end of this year and the refunding of Uisce Éireann water and waste water connection charges until the beginning of October.

O’Brien said the waiver, which was brought in to try to offset the increased cost of building materials, and the water refund scheme had “undoubtedly been a principal factor in influencing the speedier activation of planning permissions by developers since they were introduced last year”.

He said extending these measures “will ensure that many more homes will come into the mix this year and quicker than otherwise may have happened”.

Contains reporting from Press Association 

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