Fianna Fáil Finance spokesperson Michael McGrath has described a scheme announced in October 2014 to assist first time buyers as a flop as just 335 applicants have benefitted from it to date.
According to a parliamentary reply received by Deputy McGrath, since 14 October 2014, when the scheme was introduced, a total of €326,888 has been refunded to 335 applicants. This is an average of €975 for each first time buyer. Separate figures from the Banking Payments Federation of Ireland indicate that in the period from October 2014 to March of this year 20,454 First Time Buyer mortgages were drawn down. On this basis less than 2 percent of potentially eligible purchasers have availed of the DIRT refund scheme.
Deputy McGrath commented, “It is now clear that the scheme to provide relief from DIRT for first time buyers has been a major disappointment. In fact, the outcome is an insult to the thousands of people who are struggling to buy their first home.
“A chronic lack of supply, exorbitant interest rates, the abolition of mortgage interest relief and the Central Bank rules on deposits have combined to make home ownership increasingly unaffordable for young people. These are the real issues that the government should be focused on if they genuinely want to assist first time buyers.
“The announcement of the scheme was nothing more than a gimmick to distract attention from the escalating housing crisis. The scheme has not even managed to live up to its very modest expectations as previous parliamentary replies indicate that upwards of 10,000 were expected to benefit. In practice, only a fraction of this number have availed of the scheme.
“Fianna Fáil believes the government should introduce a “Help to Buy” scheme to assist young people starting out to get the money together for a deposit on their new home. This would involve a top up of 25% on individual’s special deposit savings account. It would be a targeted support for families and a far more effective means of assisting First Time Buyers than the current scheme which has had a negligible impact to date.”