Thursday, 11 March 2004

Questions (163, 164, 165, 166, 167)

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

164 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the housing policy laid down by his Department and the funding provided by him to the various local authorities having regard to the provisions of the Housing Act; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8216/04]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government)

The overall aim of the Government's housing policy is to enable every household to have available an affordable dwelling of good quality, suited to its needs, in a good environment and, as far as possible, at the tenure of its choice. In this context, the Government's strategy is to increase housing supply to meet demand and to improve affordability, particularly for first time buyers, and in this way to seek to bring moderation to house price increases.

There is clear evidence that the measures to boost supply, such as the Government's investment in infrastructure, removing planning constraints and the increased residential densities now being achieved as a result of the residential guidelines produced by my Department, have been successful in addressing the strong demand for housing. The year 2003 was the ninth successive year of record house completions, with 68,819 units completed, an increase in output of 19.3% nationally on 2002 and an increase of 10.5% in output in the greater Dublin area during the same period.

The Government is committed to continuing with measures to boost the supply of housing and ensuring that the demand for housing is met in a sustainable manner. It is also concerned to ensure that the broad spectrum of housing needs is met and it remains committed to continuing with measures to assist low income groups and those with social housing needs by means of a range of targeted social and affordable housing programmes. The total housing provision, Exchequer and non-Exchequer, in 2004 of €1.884 billion represents an increase of 5.4% on the 2003 provision. The increase in the housing provision will enable the social and affordable housing needs of over 12,000 households to be met this year compared to almost 8,500 in 1998.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

165 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he has authorised housing authorities to enlist the aid of an organisation (details supplied) when determining entitlement to housing loans; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8217/04]

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It is a matter for each local authority to administer house purchase loans in their area having regard, as appropriate, to the housing needs and circumstances of their area. In determining the maximum mortgage loan in each case, local authorities should have regard to the purchaser's ability to repay by reference to their net household income.

My Department has not issued any general policy instruction to housing authorities to use the services of the Irish Credit Bureau when determining entitlement to housing loans. My Department is updating guidance on the issuing of loans by local authorities during 2004 and the issue of appropriate credit rating of loan applicants will be considered as part of this work.

Denis Naughten

Question:

166 Mr. Naughten asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he will sanction the construction of local authority houses by Roscommon County Council at Ballyleague, County Roscommon; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8219/04]

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I understand that Roscommon County Council is developing proposals for the construction of houses in Ballyleague which will be submitted to my Department for approval in due course.

Tony Gregory

Question:

167 Mr. Gregory asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government his views on the correspondence from Dublin City Council of the first week of March 2004 regarding central heating needs. [8223/04]

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No recent correspondence has been received from Dublin City Council concerning this matter.

Noel O'Flynn

Question:

168 Mr. O’Flynn asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the Department guidelines that are in place for adoption by local authorities when they are purchasing houses in private residential estates for local authority tenants. [8236/04]

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Local authorities have been advised by my Department that they may purchase private second-hand houses where the cost of the acquisition can be met from the authority's capital allocation and the acquisition represents a cost effective and economical means by which the authority can meet the housing needs of persons on their waiting lists. It is a matter for individual local authorities to decide on the circumstances and conditions under which they purchase houses, given their knowledge of local housing markets, including prices, which can vary substantially from one area to the next. The approval of the Department is not required for individual purchases.