The government’s ‘Help to Buy’ scheme has come under criticism for subsidising builders while failing to address the housing needs of most middle and low income households. Figures released by the Department of Finance show that the scheme is expected to come in well above budget, with an average take-up of €15,000 / household.

Speaking in reaction to the figures, Cllr. Éilis Ryan (Workers’ Party, North Inner City Dublin) said:

“There is an assumption on the part of the Minister for Finance that the higher-than-expected spend on the Help-to-Buy scheme is down to greater-than-expected take-up on the scheme. However, given the average rebate availed of is as high as €15,000, it is more likely that the overspend is due to the high asking prices of houses being purchased with support from the scheme.”

The Help-to-Buy scheme offers a tax rebate of 5% of the purchase value of a home up to a maximum of €20,000. The figures released for the scheme indicate an average purchase price of €300,000 – well above the reach of even most middle-income families.

Cllr. Ryan said:

“To purchase a home worth €300,000 – and so qualify for the average Help-to-Buy rebate of €15,000  –  a household would need to be earning in excess of €70,000. Only 20% of Irish households fall into this bracket. The figures prove that it is wealthy households and builders who are benefitting from the Help to Buy scheme.

“By contrast, for the bulk of families on low and indeed middle incomes, no amount of government subsidies can paper over the glaring gap between wages and house prices in Ireland today.”