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Shared ownership scheme limits must be increased to reflect reality in housing market - Mary Lou McDonald

3 November, 2006

Sinn  Féin National Chairperson and MEP for Dublin Mary Lou McDonald has called  on  the  Taoiseach  Bertie Ahern to ensure that the maximum loan available  from  local  authorities under the shared ownership scheme is increased  to  reflect  the changes in the housing market.  Ms. McDonald was  commenting  today  on the findings of a Sinn Féin survey that shows the shared ownership scheme is almost obsolete because the loans offered by  local  authorities  have  not increased in line with the increase in house prices.

Ms. McDonald said, "The Government claims the shared ownership scheme as one of the successes of its so-called housing policy.  However, a survey carried  out  by  Sinn  Féin  activists  last week shows that the shared ownership  scheme has been overtaken by rising house prices to the point where  it  is  now  next to impossible to find a property in the greater Dublin  area  within the limits of the scheme.  An official in one local authority,  Dún  Laoghaire/Rathdown,  actually  told  us that the shared ownership scheme is 'almost obsolete' as the maximum loan they will give is  €300,000 and, in her words 'you won't be able to find a property for that money.'

"The financial limit on the price of a house that can be purchases under the  scheme  ranges  from  €210,000  to  €300,000  across the four local authorities   in  Dublin.  Twenty-four  estate  agents  throughout  each constituency  in  Dublin  were  contacted  by  Sinn Féin and just twelve properties  were  found  that  could be purchased under the within these limits.   Eleven  of  them  were within Dublin City Council. No suitable accommodation was found in Fingal or South Dublin and just one was found in Dún Laoghaire/Rathdown.

"Of  the  eleven  properties  found  in  Dublin City Council, three were so-called  apartments  that  are little more than single rooms. Seven of the properties were one bed apartments ranging in price from €195,000 to €260,000  and  we  found  one  two bedroom house for €259,000. A one bed apartment  was  found  within Dún Laoghaire/Rathdown for €290,000.  Just one  of these properties would be suitable for a young couple starting a family.   There  are  thousands  on  the  social housing waiting list in Dublin and hundreds have applied for the shared ownership scheme.

"The  shared  ownership  scheme,  in  theory,  is a good idea.  It gives people from low income backgrounds an opportunity to get on the property ladder  at  a  time  when  house  prices  are  soaring through the roof. However,  it  is  clear  from  this  survey that, in practice, it is not working.   I  am  calling on the Taoiseach to, at the very least, ensure that  local authorities increase their maximum loans available under the shared  ownership  scheme  to reflect the reality in the housing market. It  is  no use bragging about a good idea if you are not going to put it to good practice." ENDS

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