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Government tax break will assist investment funds in out-bidding first-time buyers and drive up house prices - Senator Paul Gavan

13 July, 2021 - by Paul Gavan

Sinn Féin Senator Paul Gavan has condemned new tax breaks for investment funds that allow them to buy up new homes throughout the state.

Speaking as part of the Seanad debate on the Government’s Finance (Covid-19 Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill, Senator Gavan hit out at a new proposal to exempt cuckoo funds from paying stamp duty in deals to lease back housing to county councils.

He also called out a government attempt to talk down the clock at committee stage of the Bill today so that it would be guillotined without debate. 

Senator Gavan said:

“What we witnessed is a coordinated filibuster by Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael to talk down the hour allocated for the debate. They did this so that they are not embarrassed by having to admit they are voting for another tax sweetheart deal for vulture funds.

“Instead of encouraging councils to build new homes, and in the short term buy houses directly from developers, the government wants to create a new income stream for investment funds, effectively privatising the provision of social housing. 

“This proposal will give these cuckoo funds massive leverage over housing policy at the expense of all taxpayers. 

“Under these deals, councils will lease homes for a period of 25 years filling the coffers of investment funds with taxpayers money. 

“At the end of this period, the council will not own any of these properties. It is pouring taxpayers money into a black hole for the benefits of big business.

“This tax break will also continue to assist investment funds in out-bidding first time buyers and drive up house prices even further. It is at moments like this that people can see exactly who this government is working for and it’s certainly not ordinary working families.”

After the debate concluded without getting to the relevant amendments Senator Gavan warned that in years to come, people will ask how it was that significant provision for social housing was effectively handed over to private sector investor funds.

Senator Gavan added:

“This measure has the potential to do enormous long-term damage to housing policy. The government must pull back from a policy that is bad for home buyers, tenants and the taxpayer.”

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