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28/09/2021

'We're still processing applications,' Council responds to Home Loan controversy

'No formal notification from the Department that there has been any change...'

Carlow Carlow Carlow

Minister Eoghan Murphy

"We're still processing applications," the Housing Officer for Carlow County Council has said in response to the Home Loan Scheme controversy after a memo was released under a Freedom of Information request which revealed that the scheme was on hold. 

It emerged this week that the full €200m set aside for the Rebuilding Ireland Home Loans had been allocated and the scheme had been put on hold.

Josephine Kavanagh was speaking at this month's meeting of Bagenalstown Municipal District when asked by Cllr Tommy Kinsella if she could clarify the Council's position given the amount of misinformation out there. 

Ms Kavanagh said: "We have received no formal clarification or notification from the Department [of Housing] that there has been any change [to the scheme].

"We are still getting applications and we are processing them."

Under the Home Loans Scheme, Carlow County Council has received 12 applications to date in 2019 - seven of these in February.

In total, three applications were approved last month and there were six loan drawdowns, Carlow Live can reveal. 

As with the previous local authority home loan offerings, loan applications under the Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan are made directly to the local authority in whose area the property proposed for purchase is situated.

Since February last year, local authorities have been offering Rebuilding Ireland Home Loans, a Government backed initiative which aims to offer low-cost mortgages to purchasers who have difficulty in securing finance from the main lenders.

Read also: Councillor concerned over local authority mortgage approval rate and asks why it is 'so low'

Speaking before an Oireachtas committee on Wednesday, Minister for Housing, Eoghan Murphy, said he had been "genuinely surprised" at how the memo had been reported and any confusion was "being caused by people asking questions that they either know the answer to but want to cause confusion". 

Fianna Fáil TD Darragh O’Brien read from a memo, released to media under FOI legislation, sent by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform to Minister Murphy's department and dated January 31 of this year.

"As the approval rating has exceeded the estimated 1,000 mortgages over three years the Department of Housing has been advised that no further approvals should issue for now," it said.

The Minister added: "The scheme has not been closed, funding had not run out.

"Any loan approval that has been given will be honoured...applications are still being received. I have been very clear with the House (the Oireachtas) all along that we were reaching 50% of drawdown and I had been engaging with [the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform."

In relation to the memo, the Minister said: "I haven’t seen it. It was not released from the Department of Housing. I don’t know what that is....The FOI was released by DEPR, not from my Department."

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