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