New grant targets first-time buyers as well as older people who previously lived in small towns and villages around Ireland
House buyers could soon be offered grants to purchase and renovate rural properties in designated towns and villages around the country.
Part of the Government's Action Plan for Rural Development, the scheme will be brought before the Cabinet today.
While it will be open to all buyers, it is specifically aimed at both first-time buyers and bringing older people back into these communities, as the Government attempts to reinvigorate rural areas that have been neglected since the recession.
It has been developed by Rural Affairs Minister Heather Humphreys and Regional Economic Development Minister Michael Ring.
According to the Irish Independent, a senor Government source has said a pilot scheme would be launched before the grants are rolled out nationwide.
Dr Edgar Morgenroth, associate research professor at the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI), told The Pat Kenny Show that there were two questions which need to be answered:
"If you're enticing younger people that perhaps would have been looking for housing in bigger urban areas, to what extent are you encouraging long-distance commuting?
"Because the jobs don't necessarily move with the people. You can think of very many fine locations that you would like to live in, but can you actually practically do that if you have a job in a particular location?
"The other thing is the scheme appears to be aimed at urban and village areas and defining exactly which places will qualify for the grants is an interesting question."
Morgenroth favoured the scheme if it helps elderly homeowners in remote rural locations, noting that refurbishments to their new abode could improve accessibility:
"One only needs to look at some of the more remote towns and villages to see that there are properties in those towns and villages that are currently not used or underused.
"Providing services for people living in very remote areas away from towns and villages is quite difficult. And we have an ageing population so this issue is going to become more significant as we go on.
"I think it would be a very good idea from a service-provision point that they would move into towns and villages."
"But they are also very firmly rooted in their local area and often very reluctant to move out of their house that they have lived in for decades."