When it comes to solving the housing crisis, the Help to Buy Scheme will be of little help, according to the SCSI. The scheme, announced by the Government in Budget 2017, does nothing to address the problem of supply and instead focuses on demand, which needs no stimulation.
Claire Solon, President of the SCSI, said that the Government should have focused on supply measures as they would have a much greater impact on the crisis, help to stabilise house prices and offer a better return to the taxpayer.
“In our view, the Government should have been focusing on initiatives to make development viable, like reducing VAT on affordable housing, making public land available for affordable housing schemes and providing finance to help kick-start building on sites around the country, with all the employment and tax benefits that this would bring.
“We can see what the Government is trying to achieve but we just don’t see it happening. The Government believes providing assistance to first-time buyers – who are the first link in the chain of house- buying – will help stimulate development by bringing more buyers into the market and giving builders confidence to start building new homes.
“However, in the short term at least, this will just mean greater competition for those few properties that are available across all sectors including tenants, students, and social and affordable housing. As we have seen, increased competition means higher prices.”
The Society welcomed the allocation of €1.2bn in funding to the Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government and the undertaking to deliver 47,000 new social houses by 2021. The Society was also pleased with the increase in interest relief to private landlords, the raising of the income ceiling of the rent-a-room scheme and changes to the Living Cities initiative.