Update: Home loan scheme has not been frozen, says Eoghan Murphy

Update 3.15pm: The Housing Minister has denied that a Government-backed mortgage fund has been frozen.

The Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan scheme allows first-time buyers who have been turned down by the banks, to apply for a mortgage from their local authority.

Over half of the €200 million fund has already been drawn down, just one year into the three-year scheme.

The Department of Housing yesterday stated that more funding would be needed if the scheme is to continue.

Minister Eoghan Murphy has told Senator Darragh O'Brien that local authorities have not been ordered to stop accepting applications.

"Local authorities are still to accept applications, the fund is still open," said Minister Murphy.

"If people have heard from their local authorities or from individual local authorities that they are not accepting applications, I think engagements have already begun this morning to contact those ten local authorities to make sure they can still accept applications because of the confusion that was caused."

Darragh O'Brien

Minister needs to tell local authorities to continue accepting loan scheme applications - Ó Broin

Earlier: Sinn Féin’s Housing spokesperson Eoin Ó Broin is calling on the Minister for Housing to instruct local authorities to continue to accept applications for the home loan scheme even if their funds have been allocated, writes Vivienne Clarke.

He told RTE radio’s News at One that a high percentage of loans approved have not yet been drawn down.

“The Minister needs to pick up the phone and tell those local authorities to continue to accept applications which can then be approved and they can be drawn down when funding is restored.”

Mr Ó Broin was responding to the Minister’s acknowledgment at the Oireachtas Committee on Housing, Planning and Local Government that 10 local authorities have run out of funding for the Rebuilding Ireland home loan scheme which allows first-time buyers to borrow up to 90% of a property's value from their local authority.

The Sinn Féin spokesperson said there was also an issue with the discrepancy over the length of time it is take some local authorities to process applications.

It is up to “four or five months” in some areas, he said.

“There are significant variations in the process. In some cases it is weeks, in some areas it is months. There has to be a standard time.”

Mr Ó Broin also queried the efficacy of the scheme in areas like Dublin where property prices are so high and the threshold for the scheme is €200,000.

“People need to be able to match the loan to an affordable house, otherwise there’s no point.”

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