The Taoiseach has hit out at an ‘overly simplistic’ narrative about the role of cuckoo funds and investors the Irish property market.
Speaking to reporters before Christmas, Micheál Martin said private investment is not a core part of the housing programme adding, “nor should it be presented as such”.
He said investors are important in terms of housing delivery but insisted the “bulk, overwhelming majority” of funding going into housing in Ireland comes from the taxpayer.
“We need to be careful as a country too that we are not basically saying we don’t want any investment at all in respect of aspects of housing,” he said.
“But it is not the key core part of our housing programme – nor should it be presented as such either.
“It is a minority part of the overall investment that will go into our social housing, into our affordable housing but we are a country that has always been open to private sector investment. There will be a need for private sector investment in house building, apart from the historic State investment.”
The Government’s Housing for All plan pledges to invest around €4bn per year in housing over the next five years.
The Taoiseach said the housing budget for next year includes just under €400m per month and insisted the State is on-course to build nearly 10,000 social and affordable homes in 2022.
“I think there has been an overly simplistic narrative around the housing story,” he said.
“One would imagine that the only thing that was going on was leasing or institutional investment.”
Earlier this year, the Government was forced to introduce measures to make it harder for investment funds to “bulk-buy” homes before they make it to market.
That came after an investor bought the majority of homes in a 170-home development in Maynooth.
Opposition parties criticised the Government response for falling short and allowing bulk-buying to continue in certain categories including apartments.
“In 2022, I think we are going to see a much bigger delivery of cost-rental and of affordable housing,” said Mr Martin.
“The big challenge for us in housing will be delivering.
“We have taken steps to stop the bulk-buying of houses and housing estates and our main priority is to concentrate the State investment on enabling young people to be able to afford houses and then those who are not in a position to buy a house to be able to get a social house.”
The Government’s new affordable housing scheme includes the controversial ‘Shared Equity Scheme’ – which allows the Government to offer loans of up to 30% of the cost of a home to first-time buyers.
The scheme was criticised by the Central Bank as well as opposition parties amid fears it will cause house prices to rise further.