"It is the deposit that so many people struggle with..."
A sum of €13,831 was the average value of approved Help to Buy claims in Kilkenny up to the end of February of this year – one of the highest nationwide.
The scheme offers first-time buyers of newly built homes, who have taken out a mortgage of not less than 70% of the value of the property, an opportunity to claim back income tax of up to €20,000 to help cover the cost of their first property.
It was introduced in Budget 2017 but was open to eligible first-time buyers who exchanged contracts with their builder on or after July 19, 2016.
Carlow/Kilkenny TD, Kathleen Funchion, said: “The Help to Buy scheme has the potential to drive prices upwards.”
She added: “It is the deposit that so many people struggle with, many would be paying less on mortgage repayments than they currently do on rent but they have no chance of saving for a 10% or 20% deposit.
“Ensuring that homes with suitable amenities nearby are actually built and looking at schemes that help with the deposit should be the focus of the Government.
“Very few benefit from the Help to Buy scheme and it doesn’t get to grips with what the problems in housing really are.”
A series of Parliamentary Questions to the Minister for Finance asked for the number and value of successful Help to Buy applications since its inception and the average grant by region.
In a written response, Minister Paschal Donohoe said Revenue had confirmed there were 5,392 HTB claims in 2017, of which 4,824 have been approved, with a combined total cost to the Exchequer of €68.9m.
He added: “From inception of the scheme to end February 2018, there have been 6,005 claims, of which 5,529 have been approved, with a combined total cost of €79.4m.”
The Minister published figures on the average value of approved claims - to the end of February, 2018 - by county.
In Kilkenny the average value of approved HTB claims was €13,831 and this was one of the highest averages nationwide.
Counties with a higher average were: Dublin (€15,941); Kildare (€15,206) Wicklow (€14,947) and Cork (€14,536).
The Minister added: “The HTB incentive operates on a self-assessment basis and the claim is also verified by the qualifying contractor.
“Where it is clear that despite the details input by the claimant, the eligibility criteria were not in fact met, Revenue will, in accordance with the legislation, seek to recover the amounts claimed incorrectly and apply interest and penalties, where appropriate.
“I am also advised by Revenue that, to date, only a very small number of follow-up compliance letters have been issued to claimants.”