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Wage subsidy and mortgages: ‘The government isn’t helping them. What chance have they with the banks?’

MORTGAGE APPLICANTS WHO are in receipt of the wage subsidy scheme are facing problems not only with the banks on moving to drawdown – but also with a government-backed mortgage scheme for first-time buyers.

TheJournal.ie has reported numerous instances of people facing difficulty moving to the drawdown of their mortgage – even with prior approval – because their employer has availed of the wage subsidy scheme. But more and more applicants on a government-backed loan are in a similar situation. 

The Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan (RIHL) is a mortgage for first-time buyers which you can avail of through your local authority. The buyers can use the loan to purchase a new or second-hand property, or use it for a self build.

Former Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy said in May that local councils were being asked to show “flexibility” to applicants during the Covid-19 crisis. However, a circular issued by the Department of Housing on 6 July advised that applicants could only proceed to drawdown when they could show they were off the wage subsidy scheme for three months. 

Opposition TDs have said this means there’s a de-facto ban on applicants for the RIHL who are in receipt of the wage subsidy scheme, but that has been denied by the new Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien. 

Independent TD for Galway East Sean Canney told TheJournal.ie that a number of his constituents have now had to put plans to either build or buy their first home on hold.

“They had no hand, act or part in going on the [wage subsidy scheme],” he said. “Their work is the same, their hours are the same, their income hasn’t changed. If the [wage subsidy] goes on until March next year, people could be facing up to a year’s delay.

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