Housing Assistance Payments Eligibility

Questions (141)

Pearse Doherty

Question:

141. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if there is currently any scheme or funding available in his Department similar to the Gaeltacht area house grants scheme to allow Gaeltacht residents to update or repair their homes; if he intends to restore this scheme in the future; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20976/13]

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Written answers (Question to Arts)

The scheme of housing grants under the Housing (Gaeltacht) Acts was suspended with effect from 7 April 2009. There are no plans to restore the scheme at present. While my Department has no other scheme to assist Gaeltacht residents to modernise or repair their homes, Gaeltacht residents have access to the same schemes available to people outside of the Gaeltacht, such as schemes provided by the local authorities.

Protection of Architectural Heritage

Questions (142)

Sandra McLellan

Question:

142. Deputy Sandra McLellan asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if he plans to introduce legislation to compel banks to deal with the issue of abandoned property held in safe keeping in view of the fact that of this property has the potential to be of significant historic and cultural value to the State; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20980/13]

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Written answers (Question to Arts)

I refer the Deputy to my reply to question No. 353 of 26th March, 2013.

Public Sector Pensions Expenditure

Questions (143)

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

143. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if he will provide in tabular form information on lump sum payments (details supplied) paid to retiring public sector workers between March 2011 and March 2013. [21582/13]

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Written answers (Question to Arts)

The information requested by the Deputy in respect of lump sums paid to civil and public servants who retired between March 2011 and March 2013 is set out in the table below. The Deputy will note that figures in respect of the Department are in respect of the period from the establishment of the Department on 2nd June 2011.

Value of Lump Sums Paid

Staff of Department of Arts, Heritage & the Gaeltacht

Staff of public bodies under the aegis of the Department

Below 10,000

2

9

10,001 - 20,000

1

13

20,001 - 30,000

3

11

30,000 - 40,000

4

9

40,001 - 50,000

6

5

50,001 - 60,000

6

3

60,001 - 70,000

4

1

70,001 - 80,000

0

4

80,001 - 90,000

2

3

90,001 - 100,000

1

2

100,001 – 150,000

4

11

150,001 – 200,000

2

5

200,001 – 250,000

0

0

Above 250,000

0

0

RTE Revenue

Questions (144)

Pearse Doherty

Question:

144. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources further to Parliamentary Question No. 411 on 23 April 2013, if he will confirm if Radio Telefís Éireann’s revenue has been sufficient to meet all sums properly chargeable to its current account and that RTÉ has made suitable provisions with respect to capital expenditure in each of 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20867/13]

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Written answers (Question to Communications)

RTÉ is an independent national public service broadcaster whose remit and obligations are set out in Section 114 of the Broadcasting Act 2009. Section 98 provides that the company shall be independent in the pursuance of these objects, subject to the requirements of the Act and as such, I, as Minister, have no function in the management of RTÉ’s day to day affairs including decisions it makes on its financial expenditure and on its budgetary position. These are purely matters for RTÉ management. RTÉ has a direct obligation under Section 105 of the Broadcasting Act 2009 to ensure that its revenue is at the earliest possible date at least sufficient to meet all sums properly chargeable to its current account and to make suitable provisions with respect to capital expenditure. I am satisfied that RTÉ management is fully cognisant of this obligation and are taking all the necessary steps to ensure that the company continues to be in compliance with the terms of the provision.

With regard to RTÉ making suitable provisions for its capital expenditure in the years 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011, I refer the Deputy to RTÉ's Annual Reports and Group Financial Statements for the years in question, which provide the information being sought by the Deputy. These documents are available in the library of the Houses of the Oireachtas and on the RTÉ website.

Public Sector Pensions Expenditure

Questions (145)

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

145. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if he will provide in tabular form information on lump sum payments (details supplied) paid to retiring public sector workers between March 2011 and March 2013. [21583/13]

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Written answers (Question to Communications)

The information requested on lump sums paid to staff of my Department who retired during the period 1st March 2011 to end March 2013 is outlined in the table below:

Lump Sum Band

Number of Staff

Under €10,000

2

€10,000 – €20,000

2

€20,001 – €30,000

Nil

€30,001 - €40,000

2

€40,001 – €50,000

Nil

€50,001 – €60,000

2

€60,001 – €70,000

1

€70,001 – €80,000

2

€80,001 – €90,000

1

€90,001– €100,000

2

€100,001 – €150,000

6

€150,001 – €200,000

4

€200,001 – €250,000

Nil

Over €250,000

Nil

Information in respect of bodies and agencies under the aegis of my Department is a day to day matter for those organisations and my Department does not have the information sought by the Deputy.

Seniors Alert Scheme

Questions (146)

John O'Mahony

Question:

146. Deputy John O'Mahony asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government when will a person (details supplied) in County Mayo will receive their personal alarm pendant; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20870/13]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

The Seniors Alert Scheme provides grant assistance towards the purchase and installation of equipment to enable older persons, without sufficient means, to continue to live securely in their homes with confidence, independence and peace of mind. The Scheme is administered by local community and voluntary groups with the support of my Department.

The grant application to provide a pendant alarm for the person referred to in the question was one of a number of applications received together by my Department. The grant was processed and paid in March 2013.  The installation of the alarm will be arranged by the local community and voluntary group in due course.

Commission for the Economic Development of Rural Areas

Questions (147)

Pat Deering

Question:

147. Deputy Pat Deering asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he will provide a progress report on the work of the Commission for the Economic Development of Rural Areas; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20905/13]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

Minister Coveney and I established the Commission for the Economic Development of Rural Areas (CEDRA) in September 2012 and since then the Commission has been working towards the publication of a report that will inform policies and strategies to support the economic development of rural Ireland into the future. The Commission and its Chair, Mr. Pat Spillane, have been engaging with stakeholder groups and the general public over the last number of months regarding ideas to support the future economic development of rural areas and I am grateful for their work to date.

The central element of the work of CEDRA is an extensive public consultation process which has been on-going since February 2013. To date the Commission has held 18 stakeholder meetings which looked at broader areas of rural life, 2 focus group meetings looking at rural tourism and social enterprise, 2 sub-group meetings looking at export and rural resources and 8 general public meetings all over Ireland. In total 360 people have attended the public meetings with a further 225 people attending the stakeholder meetings.

The Commission is also conducting a parallel research process and ha s requested submissions on its website including an option to complete an online questionnaire. To date 60 questionnaires have been completed. In addition to this, 108 submissions have been received. In total between the consultation and research exercises 850 contributions have been received to date for consideration in the CEDRA research process. The Commission will present its preliminary findings at a conference on 10 June 2013 in NUI Maynooth with the final report due in October 2013.

I believe there is clear evidence that rural communities all over Ireland have embraced the CEDRA research process; I am confident that the information that emerges from this process will provide an invaluable insight into the economic development of rural areas and assist policy making into the future.

Water Charges Introduction

Questions (148)

Dominic Hannigan

Question:

148. Deputy Dominic Hannigan asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if a decision has been taken regarding houses paying for water before a meter has been installed; if so, the way this system will work; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20915/13]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

The Programme for Government and the Memorandum of Understanding with the EU, the IMF and the ECB provide for the introduction of domestic water charges. The current position is that domestic water charges will not commence before 2014, and the Government is currently reviewing the timeline for charges in consultation with the programme partners. The Government considers that charging based on usage is the fairest way to charge for water and it has decided that water meters should be installed in households connected to public water supplies. Irish Water, a new State-owned water company to be established as an independent subsidiary within the Bord Gáis Éireann Group, will be responsible for the metering programme.

The Government has also decided to assign responsibility for the economic regulation of the water sector, including the setting of charges, to the Commission for Energy Regulation. The primary role of the regulator will be to protect the interests of customers and to ensure a consistent and appropriate level of service is provided to them. An appropriate approach to charging those customers who may not be metered when charges are introduced will be put in place. The approach to charges for both metered and unmetered properties will be included in a public consultation that will take place as part of the regulatory process.

Local Authority Housing Provision

Questions (149, 151, 152)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

149. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the extent to which any evaluation has taken place of the serious local authority housing shortage with particular reference tot the total numbers of persons registered as being in need of local authority housing by way of housing lists currently registered on a county basis; if it is envisaged to adopt any particular strategy to address this issue, mindful of the cost of rent support in the absence of an adequate local authority housing stock; if he will consider a short to medium term plan to address the issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20926/13]

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Bernard Durkan

Question:

151. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the extent to which he has quantified the local authority housing requirements in each local authority area by reference to the number of housing applicants recorded by each authority; if it is intended to take any specific steps to address this issue in the short and medium term thereby alleviating some of the cost of rent support currently incurred annually; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20931/13]

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Bernard Durkan

Question:

152. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the extent to which his Department has accessed information from the Department of Social Protection to accurately identify the number of housing applicants on local authority waiting lists who continue to be forced to rely on rent support in lieu of local authority housing; the extent to which rent support costs have been identified in full with a view to initiating a public housing campaign on a graduated basis thereby replacing some of the annual rent support costs by way of capital expenditure on housing; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20932/13]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 149, 151 and 152 together.

The Government’s housing policy statement, published in June 2011, clearly identifies that the priority for Government will be to meet the most acute needs of households applying for social housing support. I am determined to ensure that the social housing programme optimises the delivery of social housing and the return for the resources invested. To achieve this, it is essential that we tailor the use of available Exchequer supports to prevailing conditions and explore the full range of solutions to address housing needs.

My Department does not have access to information from the Department of Social Protection in respect of Rent Supplement demand or associated costs. However, when applying for social housing support, households are required to confirm to the relevant local authority whether they are in receipt of Rent Supplement.

My Department also does not hold information on the number of households on local authorities’ waiting lists. This figure continuously fluctuates as households are allocated housing and new households apply for housing support. Detailed information on the latest statutory assessment of housing need which was carried out in March 2011, including a breakdown by authority and category of need, is available on my Department’s website www.environ.ie. or on the Housing Agency’s website www.housing.ie.  A summary assessment is due to be carried out in May 2013 and the results will be published in autumn 2013.

In terms of addressing the demand for social housing, the social housing capital budget has been reduced from €1.535 billion in 2008 to €287m in 2013 and the financial parameters within which we will be operating for the coming years rule out a return to large capital funded construction programmes. The Government is committed to responding more quickly and on a larger scale to social housing support needs through a variety of mechanisms, including through increased provision of social housing. In July 2012 I announced details of a three-year funding programme of €100 million to deliver some 800 new units of voluntary and local authority owned social housing. I am monitoring expenditure under my Department’s housing programme for 2013, together with the level of contractual commitments extending into 2014, with a view to a decision later this year on approving some limited new construction and house purchases over the period to end 2014.

In spite of the challenging circumstances within which local authorities must operate the final outcome for 2012 is expected to be in the region of 4,000 to 4,500 housing units. Given the current volatility of the market and different challenges to the channels of supply it is difficult to estimate the likely output of new units for social housing this year.  However, it is provisionally estimated that in the region of 5,000 units will be provided for social housing in 2013.

Delivery of social housing will be significantly facilitated through more flexible funding models such as the Rental Accommodation Scheme and leasing but the Government is also committed to developing other funding mechanisms that will increase the supply of permanent new social housing. Such mechanisms will include options to purchase, build to lease and the sourcing of loan finance by approved housing bodies for construction and acquisition. There is also obvious potential, across a range of housing programmes, for the Government’s objective of sourcing and providing suitable residential units for use as social housing to be aligned with the commercial objectives of the National Asset Management Agency (NAMA). My Department and the Housing Agency are engaged with NAMA to ensure delivery of housing units for social purposes.