Ireland plans to extend expanded help-to-buy home scheme beyond 2020

FILE PHOTO: A new housing development in Straffan, County Kildare, Ireland January 30, 2020. Picture taken January 30, 2020. REUTERS/Lorraine O'Sullivan/File Photo

DUBLIN (Reuters) - Ireland plans to extend a newly expanded government subsidy for first-time home buyers beyond the six-month window announced as part of a plan to stimulate the coronavirus-hit economy, Deputy Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said on Friday.

The government on Thursday boosted the help-to-buy scheme, offering first-time buyers a tax rebate of up to 30,000 euros ($34,920) or 10% of the value of a property if they buy a newly built home or build one by the end of the year.

That was up from 20,000 euros or 5% of the property value when the previous government that Varadkar’s Fine Gael led introduced the scheme in 2016.

“It is intended to extend it beyond December 31 but we have to do a consultation with the Central Bank first,” Varadkar told Virgin Television news in an interview.

The government says the expanded scheme is intended to boost supply and demand after property transactions collapsed during the recent lockdown. But opposition politicians say it will just make house prices more expensive at a time when coronavirus restrictions will slow down construction.

($1 = 0.8591 euros)

Reporting by Padraic Halpin; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne