Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Questions (104)

Joan Collins


104. Deputy Joan Collins asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the position regarding the recent underspend of €50 million by local authorities on Traveller accommodation in view of the latest European Commission report against racism and intolerance regarding Ireland; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12780/13]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

In accordance with the Housing (Traveller Accommodation) Act 1998, statutory responsibility for the assessment of the accommodation needs of Travellers and the preparation, adoption and implementation of multi-annual Traveller accommodation programmes, designed to meet the accommodation needs of Travellers, rests with individual housing authorities. My Department’s role is to ensure that there is an adequate legislative and financial system in place to assist the authorities in providing such accommodation.

My Department provides 100% capital funding to housing authorities for the provision of new and refurbished Traveller-specific accommodation, such as halting sites and group housing schemes. Traveller families are also accommodated in local authority social housing dwellings, which are funded through the main local authority social housing programme. The most recent Housing Needs Assessment has shown that the vast majority of Travellers have opted for standard housing. Nevertheless, Traveller-specific accommodation continues to be provided by housing authorities, and funded by my Department, to meet the accommodation needs of those Travellers who opt for such accommodation.

Between 2007 and 2012, €170 million was allocated by my Department to local authorities for the provision of Traveller-specific accommodation. Funding under the Traveller Accommodation Programme is allocated annually to housing authorities based on the programmes submitted to my Department for the year in question. It is then a matter for housing authorities to progress those projects for which an allocation was provided and to arrange for the appropriate and timely drawdown of the funding from my Department.

My Department carefully monitors the drawdown of expenditure and progress generally under the Traveller Accommodation Programme. Concerns have been raised with housing authorities regarding the drawdown of allocations in recent years. While my Department will continue to monitor the drawdown of expenditure this year to ensure that the maximum return is achieved from resources provided, it must be acknowledged that overall responsibility for the progression of schemes and the efficient and effective drawdown of allocations lies with housing authorities.