Fundamentally, this government cannot be trusted

The government’s u-turn on cuckoo funds is brazen and downright dishonest, according to Social Democrats co-leader Róisín Shortall.

“We are in the midst of a housing crisis that is causing untold misery all over this country. The Taoiseach has acknowledged this. He said housing is the “number 1 crisis facing the people, young people in particular”  and said “anything we can do in terms of housing, we are going to do”.

“One of the things the Taoiseach promised to do was deal with cuckoo funds buying up family homes. The government eventually introduced a 10pc stamp duty for the bulk purchase of ten or more homes.

“Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe described it as a “strong deterrent” and said funds that tried to “get around” the measures “will be caught” and prevented from doing so. That was what the Minister said. But now we learn that what the government is doing is quite different.

“Instead of catching out cuckoo funds trying to evade this measure, the government is aiding and abetting them. Cuckoo funds that lease homes back to local authorities will be exempt from the stamp duty increase.

“This government is renowned for saying one thing and doing something else, but this u-turn can only be described as brazen and downright dishonest.

“Back in May, the Taoiseach said he didn’t agree with local authorities entering long-term leasing deals. He said, “no local authority should be on the other side of this, engaging in a long-lease with these institutional investors”.

“Later that month, the Taoiseach was clear that “long-term leasing is bad value” and said “that is my view and I continue to make that clear”.

“Despite this, Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien has quietly submitted an amendment to a Finance Bill, which comes before the Dáil tomorrow. The amendment will actually incentivise cuckoo funds to swoop in, purchase homes from underneath the noses of first time buyers and then lease them back to the State.

“The measures introduced by the Government, to limit the activity of cuckoo funds in the residential property market, were the bare minimum required. It didn’t even bother to include apartments, preferring to let cuckoo funds feast on them.

“Now we learn that even the bare minimum has been diluted. That the promises made to the people, to do something about the activity of these funds, are worthless.

“When I raised this issue in the Dáil today, the Taoiseach refused to withdraw the amendment. In fact, he barely acknowledged it – preferring to obfuscate and dodge any questions.

“Fundamentally, this government cannot be trusted. Instead of helping young people trying to buy a home, it prefers to help the vultures seeking to profiteer on their misery.”

6 July, 2021


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