Cllrs Call for the Extension of Help to Buy Scheme

By Seamus Whelehan

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Cork County Cllrs are urging the Government to commit to extending the Help to Buy Scheme despite the fact the scheme is helping but a few families.  Introduced in 2016, the Help to Buy Scheme gives participants a €20,000 rebate on tax to use towards a mortgage.

To qualify, the successful applicant must be tax compliant, must not have built or owned a previous property either on their own or with a joint owner, and they must also live in the home for at least 5 years.  Sinn Fein Cllr Danielle Twomey received the full backing of Cork County Council on Monday, 11 February seeking the extension of the scheme beyond the October 2019 deadline.

The Midleton based Cllr said that whilst the scheme may have its merits, it’s not without its flaws. It needs to be better publicised and should not be restricted to new builds and self builds.   Almost €111 million has been claimed in tax relief by nearly 7,700 house buyers under the programme since July 2016.

First time buyers should not be restricted to purchasing new builds or self-building, said Cllr Twomey.   “New builds can be more expensive than older properties and therefore it’s cutting out a huge portion of potential buyers who cannot afford a new build, and these purchasers are probably the ones that need this scheme the most” she said.

Fianna Fail Cllr Gillian Coughlan said “in the maelstrom in trying to set up a home, the State must help because it’s becoming increasingly difficult with Banks narrowing their criteria.”

She added “while it’s probably not sustainable for the State to give such support at the moment, it is necessary.”

Deputy Mayor of Cork County, Cllr Mary Linehan Foley agreed stating “there is a bracket that we are sorely missing between social housing and affordable homes.”

She said schemes such as the Help to Buy scheme are “paramount” in the current housing market.

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