- Potential €10bn funding for social housing investment remains untapped five years after first proposal -
Fianna Fáil Housing Spokesperson Darragh O’Brien TD has stated that the Government’s failure to tap into €10bn Credit Union sector is making the housing crisis worse.
Deputy O’Brien raised the issue directly with Minister English this week in the Dáil.
“The Credit Union movement has been advocating for the ability to utilise its €10bn or so in assets through ‘social good’ investments for nearly five years. Their requests have fallen on deaf ears on the part of the Government.
“After five years of work, not one cent of credit union money has been invested in social housing. This was proposed in Rebuilding Ireland and the Programme for Government. It was also mentioned in the Confidence and Supply arrangement with my party.
“The Central Bank removed any regulatory obstacle to Credit Unions investing one year ago yet the Government still hasn’t delivered on its many promises.
“I raised this issue face to face with Minister English this week and have also written directly to Minister Murphy. We are in the middle of housing crisis where the State should be using every tool at its disposal to get more homes built.
“Using a Strategic Purpose Vehicle to access private finance such as the €10 billion in credit union funds is a critical way of getting bricks and mortar in the ground. However the Government’s preliminary research into the idea is running behind schedule, five years after the idea was originally out forward by the Credit Union sector. It’s not good enough.
“The Government needs to get its act together and set up an SPV that can mobilise these billions of euro into delivering social housing investment,” concluded O’Brien.
Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Housing and local TD, Darragh O’Brien has said the Government’s Pyrite Remediation Scheme is continuing to fail to alleviate the plight faced by Fingal homeowners affected by severe pyrite damage.
The Deputy raised the matter with the Minister Damien English this week and speaking in Dáil Éireann, Deputy O’Brien said, “Since the inception of this scheme, not one home affected by pyrite has been approved as part of the remedial scheme under the exceptional circumstances category.
“The homes that have been remediated so far are all in category 2 whereby the pyrite level is above that set down in the Pyrite Resolution Act. As a consequence, very many other homeowners continue to be left in limbo and what’s worse, with no prospect of remedy.
“We’re not talking about one or two homes; we’re talking about potentially hundreds of homes across the east coast that have been left damaged by pyrite. The owners of these homes are left with mortgages on homes that are effectively valueless.
“The only bit of hope that these people have been able to hold on to is the prospect of the Government eventually recognising their situation and subsequently introducing long over-due changes to the schemes clauses. They're still waiting for the scheme to be expanded to include their home.
"A comprehensive review of the pyrite scheme has never been more pressing. These homeowners fighting for inclusion under the scheme have gone through another year of unnecessary hardship simply because the State is ignoring this matter.
"The pyrite remediation scheme needs to be expanded so that all homeowners affected can have their homes repaired in the instances where their insurer won’t fork out."
The DAA regarding the re-opening of their Community Fund for applications from yesterday Thursday 10th January and which will remain open for a period of six weeks until Monday February 12, 2019.
The airport’s €10 million Community Fund was launched in 2017 with an annual investment of €400,000 over 25 years. Support is focused on areas such as: environment and sustainability, sports and recreation, social inclusion and community development, health and well-being, and culture and heritage.
The Community Fund supports projects in the neighbouring communities around Dublin Airport. These areas include;
• Forrest Little
• Greater Baskin
• St. Margarets
• The Ward
Organisations such as voluntary groups or clubs, resident associations from local communities, and schools and colleges can apply. The Fund also supports up to 10 students per year from economic disadvantaged backgrounds to enable them to attend Dublin City University (DCU) via its Access Programme.
Groups applying for funding can find an easy how-to-apply guide along with an application form on the airport’s website www.dublinairport.com/community-fund.
If you have any queries in relation to this or any other issue please do not hesitate to contact me.
Responding to reports this morning that indicate hikes of up to €500 in property tax are expected unless the system is reformed, Fianna Fáil’s Spokesperson on Housing Darragh O’Brien has said, “As part of the Local Property Tax review we made a detailed submission and very firmly outlined our opposition to introducing any increases.
“There has been an inexplicable delay in completing this review and establishing proposals around the future of the tax itself.
“This uncertainty is causing major stress for both homeowners and local authorities nationwide. Families in a number of parts of Dublin are especially anxious given the rapid rise in property price in those areas since this tax was first introduced 6 years ago.
“Those affected don’t know whether to preempt a rise by making cutbacks now to their household budget or to plough ahead as is but then face a costly bill of close to €500.
“A key strand of Fianna Fáil’s policy in this area is affordability but with revaluations set to take place this November, reforms must be made to avoid large increases.
“It would be only fair, proportionate and transparent for Government to provide some certainty at this point. In order to protect people from large increases, the current LPT revenue yield should be maintained,” he concluded.
Fianna Fáil’s Spokesperson on Housing, Darragh O’Brien TD has said new measures to inspect and investigate the operation of vulture funds will offer a great degree of support for distressed borrowers in fear of losing their home or business.
President Michael D. Higgins recently signed the Fianna Fáil Private Members’ Bill to regulate vulture funds into law. The provisions of this new law are expected to come into effect later this month.
He said, “These new measures mark a positive transition for mortgage holders and business owners nationwide whose loans have been sold to a vulture fund and also for those who fear their loan could be sold on by their bank in the future.
“The Central Bank was previously unable to inspect or investigate vulture funds but as a consequence of our party introducing this law, will now be in the position to apply strict regulations. The regulator will also have the capacity to take enforcement action against these funds if necessary.
“Hundreds of families in the North County that are dealing with debt are petrified of losing their home or business and are more than prepared to come to an arrangement. The reality has been that many of these families have had to liaise with a vulture fund and so no reasonable options were on the table. With strict regulation now fully enshrined in law that’s likely to no longer be the case.
“Research carried out by the Central Bank itself indicates that a borrower is less likely to get a long-term restructure on their loan from a vulture fund than from a bank. A long-term restructure arrangement with a bank would provide most people struggling with debt a chance to hold on to their family home or their business.
“It’s not so long ago that Fine Gael welcomed the arrival of vulture funds into Ireland with much fanfare. They ultimately believe that they are the solution and their party is content with leaving distressed borrowers out in the cold,” concluded Deputy O’Brien.
- Up to 20 week wait is causing financial stress for families and reducing homes on the market –
Review process still to get underway despite being announced over two years ago
Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Housing, Darragh O’Brien TD has obtained information that reveals waiting times to receive probate vary widely across the country from 4 to 20 weeks.
Some 30,000 people pass away in Ireland each year with up to 87% of them owning a home. This leaves roughly 26,000 homes potentially affected by delays in probate.
A recent survey carried out by Royal London’s operation here in Ireland indicates that the overall waiting time nationally from a person’s death to the distribution of their assets is 16 months. The Department of Justice has also confirmed that a group tasked with reviewing probate in Ireland, which was announced in June 2016 has still not been established.
These factors are likely to be contributing to the relatively high 9.2% vacancy rate of 183,000 homes nationwide.
Deputy O’Brien commented, “In comparison to other countries, probate tends to take an inordinate amount of time to be processed in Ireland. The data I have received through Parliamentary Question indicates that the average wait in Donegal is 20 weeks, its just 4 weeks in Cavan while Dublin has an 8 week average waiting time.
“Each of these examples negatively compare to the average 3-4 week wait to be expected over the water in England.
“Families are not only dealing with grief but they are possibly coping with funeral costs and other expensive arrangements too. The lengthy wait to inherit the deceased’s estate means that these families are under significant stress to cover any outstanding bills.
“Meanwhile, the Department has confirmed that the review first announced in June 2016 has not yet been implemented. These waiting times have a broader impact on the housing market across the country as up to 26,000 homes per annum are caught up in legal red tape. This reduces the number of family homes available and increases the vacancy rate nationally.
“I am calling on the Government to assist in streamlining the probate system with the aim of reducing waiting times and lowering the legal costs involved. A revamped system will require additional staff, e-probate procedures, access for lay applicants, simplified structure for low threshold inheritance claims and simplified Revenue Inheritance Tax claims forms. “