Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Questions (343)

Noel Grealish

Question:

343. Deputy Noel Grealish asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he intends to broaden the membership of the housing assistance payment committee to include members other than the present membership which solely comprises State and local authority representation in the form of his Department, the Department of Social Protection and the Local Government Management Association; if consideration has been, or will be, given to the inclusion of non-governmental bodies representing landlords, tenants and social housing; the indicative timescale for the full implementation of HAP after the initial roll-out of the pilot scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11636/14]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

Building on the work carried out by the HAP Steering and Implementation Groups, and in recognition of the movement towards a new phase of implementation, revised governance arrangements have been put in place for the Housing Assistance Payment. The HAP Oversight Group is co-chaired by the Secretaries General of my Department and the Department of Social Protection and includes representatives from the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, City and County Managers Association and the Housing Agency.

A Project Board is also in place to drive and oversee delivery of the project and to report to the Oversight Group. It is chaired by my Department and includes representatives from local authorities, the Local Government Management Agency, the Housing Agency and the Department of Social Protection. My Department has engaged and will continue to engage as appropriate, with other stakeholders outside the governance structures outlined. In this regard, my Department has recently provided a progress update to the Irish Council for Social Housing and Traveller representative groups, and is scheduled to meet with landlord representative groups shortly to discuss HAP and the implications for landlords. A communications and engagement plan is being developed as part of the implementation strategy, this will provide for consultation as appropriate with stakeholders in advance of the introduction of HAP.

My Department is working closely with key stakeholders in overseeing plans for the implementation of HAP, but more specifically at this stage in relation to an early pilot phase and phased roll out of the scheme later in 2014, subject to the enactment of the Housing Bill providing for HAP and associated items. Limerick local authorities have been identified as lead authority to drive implementation in the local government sector including the delivery of the early HAP pilot in 2014. Subject to the required legislation being in place the full HAP scheme will then extend to the other 6 local authorities (Cork, South Dublin, Monaghan, Kilkenny, Louth and Waterford) identified for participation in the first phase of HAP.

Implementation by the remaining local authorities is scheduled to begin in 2015. During implementation, it is envisaged that authorities will initially focus on taking across new applicants, before moving on a progressive basis to dealing with those already in receipt of rent supplement. This is a reasonable approach to implementation, which will allow any issues that arise to be dealt with in a graduated way and give local authorities sufficient time to scale up the operation of HAP.