The Help-to-Buy scheme, which gives first time buyers income tax relief to assist in the purchase of a new house, is expected to be continued - according to the Tax Strategy Group papers published by the Department of Finance today.

There’s also a suggestion it could be extended to derelict properties to assist in the aim of bringing those properties back into the national housing stock.

It calculates that it will cost €170 million this year, four times the original estimate when it was established in 2017 of €40m per annum.

It says 58% of claimants had mortgage-to-loan value ratios of 85% or more, which means 42% had mortgages with a lower ratio and therefore bigger deposits.

It says 31% of properties covered under the scheme were valued between €226,000 and €300,000.

A further 34% were valued between €301,000 and €375,000.

There were 6,227 claims made in 2020 and 4,035 in the year to date.

The paper observes that the scheme could be interpreted as having 'inequitable characteristics’ and to be ‘regressive’ as those who earn more, pay more income tax and thus stand to benefit more.