Upward Only Rent Reviews

Questions (107)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

107. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the extent to which upward-only rent reviews continue to present problems in the retail and commercial sectors; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51095/13]

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Written answers (Question to Jobs)

I am acutely aware of the difficulties that upward only rent reviews cause for some businesses who had signed their leases before such clauses were abolished on 28th February 2010. The Forfás report “Costs of Doing Business in Ireland 2012”, which was published on 8th April 2013 last, indicates that business costs have reduced significantly in recent years with overall price levels in the economy falling back to levels last experienced in 2002. The improvement in business cost competitiveness has been driven by dramatic reductions in property related costs (in terms of purchase and rent levels) and falling prices across a range of professional and business services.

However, the Government has taken steps to address the issue where possible. In the Action Plan for Jobs 2012, the Government undertook to place downward pressure on commercial rents where the National Asset Management Agency (NAMA) had acquired the loan on the underlying property. NAMA has published its policy guidance which will inform the approach to be taken where relevant tenants are experiencing difficulties in paying rents. Under the Guidance Note, which NAMA published in December 2011, it has to date approved rent abatements proposed by its debtors and receivers with an aggregate annual value of in excess of €17m. NAMA has refused only 10 of the 312 applications received to date.

The 2013 Action Plan for Jobs also includes a number of specific actions to support a sustainable commercial property market, including ensuring that the commercial leases database is established and fully operational in 2013. The Commercial Leases Database was published by the Property Services Regulatory Authority on 31st October, 2013. The total number of leases entered into since 1 January 2010 to 31st October 2013 is 24,747.

The Commercial Leases Database is available on the Property Services Regulatory Authority website: www.psr.ie . It will bring much-needed transparency to the commercial property market and will empower both landlords and tenants to reach a commercially informed decision when negotiating new leases, dealing with rent reviews, and lease restructuring and renewals.

In relation to the rent review issue in historic leases, the Government has repeatedly urged that maximum flexibility be shown during the course of rent negotiations and has called upon all parties to act responsibly and in a way which takes full account of the broader national interest.

The Action Plan for Jobs recognises the importance of the retail sector to the economy and the 2013 Action Plan contains a number of measures aimed at supporting that sector. These include an initiative to increase the number of small businesses trading on-line and an initiative to streamline business licence application procedures. Employers in the retail sector can also avail of the JobsPlus initiative which provides financial assistance to employers who recruit people who have been out of work for 12 months or more. The Government has also established an Interdepartmental Group to consider further possible measures to assist the retail sector, which are currently being considered for inclusion in the 2014 Action Plan for Jobs.

The Government attaches great importance to a thriving retail and commercial sector, and is committed to supporting these sectors wherever support is feasible. Continuing action is being taken across Government to reduce the costs of doing business, which is intended to have a positive impact on areas such as energy, local authority rates, and the administrative burden involved in companies complying with Government regulations and tax systems.

Job Creation

Questions (108)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

108. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the extent to which job creation throughout County Kildare tends to be specifically targeted at areas of higher than average unemployment and youth unemployment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51096/13]

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Written answers (Question to Jobs)

I believe that the policies being pursued by my Department are making a positive impact in supporting enterprises and job creation. Despite international and domestic difficulties, there has been an annual increase of 3.2% in employment of 58,000 people. Unemployment has fallen from 13.6% to 12.8%, and youth unemployment has decreased from 31.1% to 26.5% over the year to September 2013.

The Government is committed to addressing the problem of employment, and in particular, youth unemployment. Our primary strategy is to create the environment for economic recovery through competitiveness, enterprise and job creation through the Action Plan for Jobs. In addition, the Government recognises the need for measures to support the unemployed and keep jobseekers close to the labour market. In this context, the major elements of the Government’s response are set out in Pathways to Work, which is aimed at ensuring that as many as possible of the job vacancies that are created as the economy recovers are filled by people from the Live Register - with a particular focus on those who are long-term unemployed or at risk of long-term unemployment.

Pathways to Work programmes such as JobBridge, Springboard, Momentum, JobsPlus and the ICT Action Plan, are delivered by the Departments of Social Protection and Education and Skills. The Department of Social Protection is also working with relevant Departments, including my own, to produce a concrete plan for implementation of the Youth Guarantee in Ireland, for consideration by the Government before being transmitted to the European Commission by the end of the year.

My Department is also keen to support young entrepreneurs and, in this context, current initiatives such as Enterprise Ireland’s Competitive Start Fund and New Frontiers Programme, along with the Microenterprise Loan Fund, all contribute to supporting young entrepreneurs. In 2014, the CEBs will also place a focus on supporting entrepreneurship among young people.

More than 48,000 jobs will be created in 2014 through supports from my Department as a result of the measures announced in Budget 2014. Some of the specific measures announced include:

- A package of new initiatives to support start-ups and growing businesses, including Start Your Own Business Scheme – a 2-year income tax exemption for long-term unemployed people who start their own business,

- A total of €18.5m for CEBs to support enterprise development, an increase of €3.5m on the Budget 2013 Estimate.

- Continued provision for a total of over €2billion in non-bank credit schemes for business.

In 2012, Enterprise Ireland, IDA Ireland and the County Enterprise Boards companies had their best performance in many years, with the agencies’ clients creating just over 30,000 new jobs between them last year. The services and supports of these Agencies are available to both indigenous and FDI companies throughout County Kildare.

The County Enterprise Boards (CEBs) throughout the country provide supports, both financial and non-financial or “soft” supports, to all micro-enterprises in the start-up or expansion phase in manufacturing and services, subject to certain conditions. The soft supports include the provision of business advice, mentoring and training to all clients. The aim is to develop indigenous enterprise potential, stimulate economic activity at local level and promote the establishment of micro-enterprises within their administrative area.

Anyone interested in starting or expanding their own business should in the first instance contact their local County and City Enterprise Board (CEB). Contact details for Kildare CEB are available on http://www.kildareceb.ie/.

Tables 1 to 3 below provide information in relation to County Kildare on IDA Ireland, Enterprise Ireland and Kildare CEB activities.

Table 1: IDA Ireland – Jobs created

County

Employment Data

2008

2009

2010

2011

2012

Kildare

Jobs Created

113

30

1,228

398

176

Table 2: Enterprise Ireland Jobs created

County

Job Data

2008

2009

2010

2011

2012

Kildare

Jobs Created

351

476

295

1,082

534

Table 3: CEB Employment Statistics 2011 and 2012

-

-

2012

-

2011

CEB

Full Time Gains

Other Time Gains

Full Time Gains

Other Time Gains

Kildare

133

77

106

135

Social Welfare Code

Questions (109)

Dessie Ellis

Question:

109. Deputy Dessie Ellis asked the Minister for Social Protection her views on the claims by Focus Ireland and other housing organisations that recent cuts to rent supplement have contributed to making a number of families homeless. [50899/13]

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Written answers (Question to Social)

There are currently approximately 81,000 persons in receipt of rent supplement for which the Government has provided €403 million in 2013. The aim of rent supplement is to provide short term income assistance, and not to act as an alternative to the other social housing schemes operated by the Exchequer. Revised rent limits under the rent supplement scheme have come into force with effect from Monday 17 June 2013 and will be in place until 31 December 2014. The new rent limits have been determined following an extensive review of the private rental market based on the most up-to-date data available. The Department currently funds approximately 30% of the private rented sector so it is essential that the rent limits are kept under review. The new rent limits have been set using the 35th percentile to ensure that sufficient housing is available for recipients of the scheme.

There have been increases in the maximum rent limits in Dublin and Galway while there have been some reductions across a number of counties, reflecting the conditions in the rental markets in those counties. Officials continue to monitor rent levels throughout the country. Department officials dealing with rent supplement tenants will continue to ensure that rent supplement tenants’ accommodation needs are met and that the residence is reasonably suited to their residential and other needs.

Carer's Allowance Appeals

Questions (110)

Tom Fleming

Question:

110. Deputy Tom Fleming asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will expedite a carer's allowance overpayment appeal in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [50901/13]

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Written answers (Question to Social)

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was registered in that office on 2nd September 2013. It is a statutory requirement of the appeals process that the relevant Departmental papers and comments by the Deciding Officer on the grounds of appeal be sought. When these have been received from the Department, the case in question will be referred to an Appeals Officer who will make a summary decision on the appeal based on the documentary evidence presented or, if required, hold an oral appeal hearing. The Social Welfare Appeals Office functions independently of the Minister for Social Protection and of the Department and is responsible for determining appeals against decisions in relation to social welfare entitlements.