Thursday, 4 November 2004

Questions (111)

Seymour Crawford

Question:

104 Mr. Crawford asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the reasons behind the variation between the 2003 Estimate provision and the 2003 outturn for private housing grants and subsidies of €19,288,000; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27532/04]

View answer

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

The increased requirement for private housing grants and subsidies of over €19 million referred to in the question arose from an increased volume of payments in 2003 under the first-time buyer's grant for new houses, in an increased demand under the disabled persons and essential repairs grant schemes.

The new house grant for first-time owner occupiers was abolished with effect from 14 November 2002. However, where a contract to purchase a new house or a contract to build was entered into on or before 14 November 2002, or in the case of a "self build" house where the foundations were poured on or before 14 November 2002, grant applications were accepted up to close of business on 4 December 2002. A total of 13,827 new house grant applications were received in the housing grants section of my Department in the three-week period between 15 November 2002 and 4 December 2002. The deadline for the completion and occupation of the house was later extended from 13 November 2003 to 2 April 2004. These arrangements led to a large increase in the number of grants to be paid in 2003. The allocation for the scheme was supplemented and €11.46 million was paid on top of the original estimate of €32.38 million.

Demands under the disabled persons and essential repairs grant schemes also proved higher than anticipated in 2003, and the original Exchequer allocation of €40.75 million was consequently increased by over €8.5 million to facilitate payments. A review of the disabled persons grant scheme has been under way in my Department and will be completed shortly.

The following table gives a breakdown of estimates and outturn for 2003 for the schemes.

Housing Expenditure 2003.

REV

Outturn

Variation

Subhead

€’000

€’000

€’000

B.2. Private Housing Grants & Subsidies, etc.

1. New House Grants

32,381

43,841

11,460

2. Disabled persons/essential repairs/improvement grants

40,749

49,335

8,586

Total (Capital)

73,130

93,176

20,046

3. Subsidies and loan guarantees

18

6

-12

4. Rent Tribunal

84

30

-54

5. Support for Private Rented Sector (pay)

250

13

-237

non-pay

729

292

-437

Total (Current)

1,081

341

-740

GROSS TOTAL — B.2.

74,211

93,517

19,306