Affordable Housing Bill to go before Cabinet today

The Affordable Housing Bill that risks driving up house prices is to be presented to Cabinet for approval today.

Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien hopes to see the bill passed by the Oireachtas in time for the summer recess. His spokesperson confirmed that they will seek to have the legislation go through “as soon as possible”.

The minister said the bill aims to empower the Land Development Agency to build affordable homes on State-owned land, making it easier for local authorities to deliver homes and introduce a new affordable rental scheme.

A shared equity scheme in the bill will see the Government taking a stake of up to 30% of a property when buyers cannot afford the full mortgage. 

Opposition politicians, as well as the ESRI and the Central Bank, have raised concern over the scheme, with the ESRI warning that it will likely lead to higher house prices.

‘Excessive indebtedness’

The Central Bank warned it could leave mortgage holders with “excessive indebtedness” and could put “upward pressure on house prices”.

One of the State’s most senior officials, Robert Watt, previously warned that the construction industry was lobbying for a scheme “because it would increase prices”.

The Government has set aside €75m in the budget for the programme.

Mr O’Brien said previously there had been “a bit of a hysterical response” to the scheme and is confident it will improve access to the property ladder.

The Cabinet is also to discuss the vaccine rollout as health officials have been working on a revised vaccination schedule. 

Changes to restrictions on the use of the AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson vaccines for certain age cohorts and unreliable delivery now mean ministers will have to decide on how best to roll out the programme for under-50s, with concerns that Ireland may be left with thousands of unused doses by the summer.

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly said he is expecting to receive “a few options” this week on updating the vaccination plan. However, a decision is not expected to be ready in time for the cabinet meeting today.

Read More: Affordable Housing Bill to go before Cabinet today

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