Dublin South West TD, Seán Crowe, has called on the Minister for Housing, Eoghan Murphy, to reform the Rebuilding Ireland Home Loans scheme after it was revealed that of the 1,317 loans approved in the third quarter of 2018, only 155 have been drawn down, or just 11.8% of those approved.

The Sinn Féin TD believes the current scheme is not delivering for applicants and highlights a worrying gap in the number of people a loan product like this is supposedly targeted to help in terms of accessing affordable housing.

Deputy Seán Crowe said:

“Of the 1,317 Rebuilding Ireland Home Loans approved by the 31 local authorities across the State by the end of Q3 of 2018, only 155 have actually been drawn down, a dismal 11.8%.

“If you look at the high demand areas across the four Dublin local authorities, the ratio of approvals to draw downs is extremely worrying.

“In Dublin City Council, 189 loans were approved but only 28 had been drawn down by the end of Q3 of 2018. In Fingal, 185 have been approved, but only 28 have been drawn down during the same timeframe.

“In South Dublin, 92 loans have been approved with only nine drawn down and in Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown, the figures are 38 approved with one drawn down.

“In fact, in many local authority areas, zero loans have been drawn down despite approvals for loans being granted in every one of them. Out of the 155 loans drawn down, the average amount is €186,591 with a total of €28.9m drawn down in the 3rd quarter of 2018.”

Crowe continued:

“The Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan clearly is not working as intended. In high demand areas where the loan amount available to borrow is higher, the average amount is €207,000.

“This is all very well but according to figures from the Daft.ie quarterly house price report, the average house price in these Dublin areas is €379,922.

“There is clearly no point in offering a loan product to tackle affordability if the loan on offer comes nowhere near to covering the actual cost of purchasing a home. Where is the borrower to access the €177,000 shortfall?

“At this stage, the Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan is a tokenistic gesture that has done very little to provide affordable homes for people. This is what my party, Sinn Féin, cautioned against when this scheme was initially launched with so much fanfare.

“The Government and Minister Murphy need to do more to bring down the cost of homes, making them truly affordable, instead of expecting struggling low to middle income earners to compete in a heated and totally inflated housing market.”