Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Questions (48, 70)

Dessie Ellis

Question:

48. Deputy Dessie Ellis asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the way in which funding for the €100 million investment in housing for the elderly in the recent budget announcements has been sourced; the way it will be allocated; the criteria for persons seeking to be housed with this initiative; and if there are any short, medium and longer term deadlines for implementation. [44835/13]

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Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

70. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government his views on whether the reduction in spending on social housing by €700 million from 2010 to €80.9 million for 2014 is regrettable and regressive. [44808/13]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 48 and 70 together.

The level of capital funding available to my Department has decreased significantly in recent years along the lines highlighted in the Medium Term Exchequer Framework for Infrastructure and Capital Investment 2012-2016. The Abridged Estimate for my Department, published by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform in Expenditure Report 2014, provides €525.8 million in respect of the Housing Programme. These resources have been supplemented by a further €50 million announced in the Budget to fund infrastructural investment primarily in the housing area which includes €30 million to recommence a State house building programme; €10 million for an unfinished housing estate resolution pilot project; and €10 million for housing adaptation grants. When taken in conjunction, funding for Housing is effectively maintained at 2013 levels.

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 need. The 2014 Estimates will provide capital funding which will allow progress to continue to be made across a range of programmes under my Department's Social Housing Investment Programme (SHIP). These measures will include the provision of over €40 million to continue the local authority housing construction and acquisitions programme. I am confident that the additional €30 million being invested in local authority housing will facilitate the construction of new infill developments in areas with the highest demand for social housing and will bring long-term vacant units back into social use resulting in up to 500 new homes becoming available for families in 2014. I envisage that some 4,500 additional housing units will be provided next year through leasing and existing capital programmes.

Significant funding is also being provided to support the national regeneration programme with over €79 million available in 2014 to target the country's most socially disadvantaged communities and to support a range of remedial works schemes. 2014 will also see €25 million provided which will improve the energy efficiency of 12,500 local authority houses, resulting in warmer homes and lower energy bills for thousands of families.

In 2014, I will continue to focus the available resources towards the most vulnerable and disadvantaged sectors of the community. The capital provision will include over €40 million for the provision of accommodation by Approved Housing Bodies (AHB's) to be funded under the Capital Assistance Scheme (CAS). Under CAS, funding of up to 100% of the approved cost is available for the provision of accommodation to meet the needs of persons with specific categories of housing need including older people. The additional €10 million provision under the suite of Housing Adaptation Grants for Older People and People with a Disability, as announced last week, will facilitate the payment of more than 7,800 grants to assist older people and people with disabilities to remain at home for longer.