House buyers are to be offered renovation grants to restore properties in small towns and villages as part of the Government’s long-promised plan to revive rural Ireland.

Cash grants for refurbishing old buildings in rural communities are to form a central plank of the Government’s Action Plan for Rural Development, which is being brought before the Cabinet today.

The scheme is aimed at luring all house buyers, but specifically older people and first-time buyers, back into rural communities damaged by unemployment during the recession.

Young people buying houses in designated rural towns would be given cash grants to renovate their new homes along with the tax relief available under the first-time buyer scheme.

The renovation grant would also incentivise older people living alone in isolated parts of the country to move into town centres where more services are available. The cash incentive would allow older people to refurbish houses and make them more accessible for their later years.

The Government hopes renovation grants will lure people into small towns and villages where house prices are far lower than major towns and cities.

A senior Government source said the scheme would be introduced on a pilot basis before being rolled out nationwide.

“We want people to convert centre of town buildings into modern properties,” the source said. “We also want to attract people living in extremely rural areas back into towns so they will have easy access to amenities and human company.”

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