Social and Affordable Housing Provision

Questions (373)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

373. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government further to Parliamentary Question No. 126 of 4 February 2014, if he will provide an update of the housing units to be delivered this year, including any increases from the figures detailed in that reply compared to further units which are to be delivered under recently announced investments including additional capital expenditure approved by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform and funding for which applications have been made from the European Union. [24187/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Environment)

I expect the final output across all social housing programmes for 2014 to be in the region of 6,000 new housing units as set out in the following table.

Delivery method

Number

Rental Accommodation Scheme

2,500

Leasing, including: 400 NAMA sourced properties and 350 Mortgage to Rent Scheme

1,200

Social Housing Investment Programme

200

Capital Assistance Scheme

2 75

Regeneration

230

Voids

1,800

Social and Affordable Housing Provision

Questions (374)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

374. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government further to Parliamentary Question No. 126 of 4 February 2014, if the number of housing units to be delivered through the rental accommodation scheme has been revised downwards in view of an increasing number of landlords now exiting the rental accommodation scheme, particularly in Dublin city. [24188/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Environment)

The target number of households to be transferred under the Rental Accommodation Scheme in 2014 remains at 4,000. Transfers under the scheme can be to RAS accommodation in the private rented sector or to other social housing options. Since the scheme commenced in late 2005 and to the end of Quarter 1 2014 some 48,894 households have been transferred from Rent Supplement to RAS and other social housing options. Of these 28,940 were housed directly under RAS and a further 19,954 were accommodated under other social housing options.

The figure of 2,500 referred to in Parliamentary Question No. 126 of 4 February 2014 represents the number of transfers to RAS accommodation in the private rented sector, which is counted as new social housing supply, and which was the subject of the question. Transfers that take place to other social housing options are not counted in the output figures for new supply under RAS as they are accounted for under the output figures for other supply mechanisms e.g. accommodation built or purchased by housing authorities or approved housing bodies. This is to avoid double counting the units which would lead to an overestimate of the new units supplied for social housing purposes in any given year.

When referring to overall targets in RAS this is not in reference to output or supply but rather to numbers transferred from Rent Supplement to RAS and other social housing options. This is how the operation of the scheme is measured, given that RAS is concerned with transferring households with an assessed long term housing need out of Rent Supplement and into social housing support.

Accommodation provided under the Rental Accommodation Scheme is governed by the Residential Tenancies Act 2004, as amended. A landlord can terminate the agreement entered into where particular circumstances prevail, if for example they wish to sell their rented property or where anti-social behaviour is an issue, subject to compliance with the provisions of the Act and the terms of the RAS agreement. While landlords can exit the scheme for the above reasons, there are landlords that still remain attracted to the scheme due to incentives such as a guaranteed rent for a minimum of 4 years, no rent collection, no vacancies and savings on advertising costs.

Social and Affordable Housing Expenditure

Questions (375)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

375. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the number of new builds by local authorities that will be supported by funding from his Department this year; the total expenditure by his Department for new builds; and the local authorities that will receive departmental funding to build new housing units in their administrative areas. [24189/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Environment)

This year it is intended that in the region of 6,000 additional social housing units will be delivered across all social housing supply routes including local authority and voluntary housing construction and retrofitting programmes, the Rental Accommodation Scheme and the Social Housing Leasing initiative.

I have already, this year, indicated a return to modest levels of new social housing construction. In March 2014 I announced the approval of some 56 social housing construction projects with an overall value of over €68 million under the Local Authority housing construction programme for 2014-2015. This new construction programme will deliver some 450 new units of accommodation for people on the housing waiting list. Projects were selected for approval on the basis of the proposals submitted to my Department by the local authorities, the relative priority afforded to each of these projects and the overall level of housing need locally.

Last month I announced details of a €46 million investment in voluntary housing which, over the next two years, will see the delivery of some 350 special needs housing units, of which 216 will be new build at a cost of some €25 million. Under the national Regeneration Programme, some €70 million is being invested this year in the refurbishment of houses and the construction of replacement homes. Around 350 new housing starts are anticipated up to end 2015.

Details of the funding being provided to individual authorities under the €68m investment in the local authority construction programme for the period 2014-2015 are set out in the following table:

Local Authority

Project Location

No. of Units

Amount allocated

Cork City Council

5/6 Shandon Street and 6A & 9 John Philpott Curran Street.

8

1,200,000

  -

Gerald Griffin Street / Burkes Avenue

23

3,910,000

Dublin City Council

Buttercup, Darndale

35

7,900,000

  -

Ballybough, Dublin

9

2,500,000

DunLaoghaire / Rathdown County Council

Cromleich Close, Kilternan, Co. Dublin

15

2,578,807

  -

Clontribit House, Blackrock

2

550,000

Fingal County Council

Glasmore Rd, Swords

12

2,000,000

 

Cappagh, Finglas

27

2,750,000

South Dublin County Council

Belgard Road, Tallaght

3

600,000

  -

St Finians, Lucan

2

461,175

  -

Suncroft, Tallaght

10

2,345,571

Galway City Council

Allocation of €2.5m for proposed construction projects at various locations

15

2,500,000

Carlow County Council

Maryborough St, Carlow

5

800,000

  -

Infill at Main Street, Borris, Carlow

6

1,000,000

Cavan County Council

Mullagh, Co. Cavan

7

660,000

Clare County Council

Glaise na Rinne, Shannon

6

1,250,000

Cork County Council

Oliver Plunkett Hill, Fermoy

11

2,090,000

Donegal County Council

4 SRDs at Various Locations

4

560,000

  -

Glendale Drive, Letterkenny.

6

850,853

Galway County Council

SRDs; 2 in Kinvara and 1 in Connemara

3

420,000

Kerry County Council

Park, Killarney

8

1,079,768

  -

Special Needs House in Listowel

1

160,000

  -

2 SRDs - South and West Kerry

2

260,000

  -

Bill Kennerk Road, Tralee

2

300,000

Kildare County Council

Kilcock, Kildare

20

3,000,000

  -

Replace 10 derelict units in Athy

10

833,000

Kilkenny County Council

Gaol Road, Kilkenny City

10

1,500,000

Laois County Council

Clodiagh Way, Tullamore Rd., Clonaslee

6

750,000

Leitrim County Council

Nil

 

 

Limerick City Council

Hasset Villas, Thomondgate

3

450,000

  -

Kilmurray Court, Garryowen

6

900,000

  -

Infill @ Clare Street

6

1,000,000

Limerick County Council

Allocation of €2m for construction projects at various locations.

12

2,000,000

Louth County Council

The Mell, Boice Court, Drogheda (Phs 2)

18

2,780,371

  -

Woodlands, Dunleer.

6

360,000

Mayo County Council

Infill site at Roches Tce., Ballina.

5

229,160

  -

4 SRDs at various locations.

4

605,720

  -

2 Special Needs Extensions

2

140,000

Meath County Council

Bettystown, Meath

18

2,600,000

  -

St Brigids Villas, Navan. Demolition and rebuild.

5

600,000

Monaghan County Council

37-44 Oliver Plunket Park, Castleblayney

8

1,000,000

Offaly County Council

Clonminch, Tullamore

4

850,000

Roscommon County Council

Mullymux, Roscommon

1

147,625

Sligo County Council

Fr Flanagan Tce

12

1,800,000

Tipperary North County Council

Ashbury, Roscrea

12

1,100,000

Tipperary South County Council

Demolish and Rebuild 2 houses @ Poulamaleen Faugheen and Lower Ballingarry.

2

437,000

Waterford County Council

Former Ormond Cinema site, O'Connell Street, Dungarvan

15

1,500,000

Waterford City Council

Demolition and Rebuild Doyle Street & Hennessy Road

6

825,000

Westmeath County Council

Infill @ Ennell Court, Mullingar

4

588,000

  -

SRD at Harbour Rd, Kilbeggan

1

100,000

  -

Grange Crescent Mullingar

2

280,000

Wexford County Council

10 units ( including 3 Special Needs) at Riverchapel, Gorey.

10

1,500,000

  -

8 units (including 5 Special Needs) at Shana Court Wexford

8

1,200,000

  -

Francis Street, Wexford

1

70,000

Wicklow County Council

1 Special Needs Unit at Roundwood

1

180,000

  -

1 Special Needs Unit at Ard Na Greine Bray

1

60,000

  -

Emoclew, Arklow (Phase 2)

8

540,000

OVERALL TOTAL

  -

449

68,652,050

Local Authority Housing Provision

Questions (376)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

376. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the total number of housing units that are currently unoccupied but which will be brought back into usage this year by local authorities with the support of funding from his Department; and if he will provide a breakdown of the local authorities that are receiving funding to bring unoccupied units back into use. [24190/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Environment)

In the context of submissions received from local authorities in respect of my Department’s capital investment programme for returning vacant local authority houses to productive use, authorities have indicated that there currently are some 3,016 vacant properties across all city and county councils. In April 2014 I allocated €15 million for works to refurbish a total of 952 of these vacant properties, a detailed breakdown of the funding and number of units is set out in the table.

Under the recently announced capital supports for the construction sector, my Department will provide a further €20 million for the refurbishment of vacant units in order that these can be made available as quickly as possible to families on the housing waiting lists.

Local Authorities

Allocations

No. Units approved for return to use

Carlow

€169,000

12

Cavan

€166,000

7

Clare

€401,000

22

Cork City

€1,288,000

94

Cork County

€963,000

68

Donegal

€358,000

56

Dublin City

€3,288,000

135

Fingal

€1,259,000

95

South Dublin

€467,000

40

Dun Laoghaire/Rathdown

€30,000

1

Galway City

€415,000

21

Galway County

€444,000

30

Kerry

€504,000

23

Kildare

€701,000

49

Kilkenny

€371,000

15

Laois

€74,000

13

Leitrim

€149,000

10

Limerick City

€219,000

8

Limerick Co

€252,000

23

Longford

€164,000

8

Louth

€180,000

6

Mayo

€320,000

31

Meath

€504,000

22

Monaghan

€93,000

11

Offaly

€225,000

12

Roscommon

€152,000

15

Sligo

€163,000

21

Nth Tipperary

€216,000

15

Sth Tipperary

€217,000

14

Waterford City

€293,000

16

Waterford Co.

€160,000

9

Westmeath

€147,000

20

Wexford

€259,000

11

Wicklow

€389,000

19

TOTAL

€15,000,000

952

Homelessness Strategy

Questions (377)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

377. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government when the social housing strategy mentioned in the Implementation Plan on the State’s Response to Homelessness, May 2014 to December 2016 will be published. [24191/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Environment)

On 14 May 2014, the Government published Construction 2020 – A Strategy for a Renewed Construction Sector.

Under Action 8 of Construction 2020, a Social Housing Strategy is to be published by Q3 2014. To assist in the development of the Social Housing Strategy, the Housing Agency has invited submissions by 31 July 2014. This invitation of submissions is available at the following weblink:http://www.housing.ie/News/Current-News/Invitation-for-Submissions-Preparation-of-a-Social.aspx

Shared Ownership Scheme

Questions (378, 379)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

378. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government further to Parliamentary Question No. 46 of 12 March 2014, if the Housing Agency has completed its further review of the shared ownership scheme following issues having been identified requiring further detailed financial analysis as identified by him in that reply. [24192/14]

View answer

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

379. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the actions that will be taken to address the increasing rental contributions required from persons and families living in shared ownership homes in circumstances where the households concerned are experiencing financial hardship and negative equity. [24193/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Environment)

I propose to take Question Nos. 378 and 379 together.

In 2013, I asked the Housing Agency to conduct a standalone review of the shared ownership scheme, including identification of the main difficulties and recommendations for mitigating measures. While I have received an initial draft of the review from the Agency a number of issues have been identified that need further detailed financial analysis. For example, full information on the status of each local authority’s loan book is required in order to accurately determine the implications of any possible solutions to shared ownership issues for local authority debt management generally.  This substantial data collection project involving my Department, the Local Government Management Agency and the local authorities themselves is under way. It will be a number of months before sufficient data has been collected in order to complete the requisite analysis to enable the completion of the review.

Pending full conclusion of this review, my Department issued a circular letter to local authorities setting out some of the options and interim actions that might be explored to alleviate the difficulties of those in shared ownership distress such as allowing use of the Mortgage Arrears Resolution Process and room rental for Shared Ownership mortgage holders. It is accepted that these proposals are not a complete solution to the issues that arise for such mortgage holders but are intended as an interim measure pending outcome of the review.

I fully recognise that shared ownership home owners, amongst others, have been affected by issues such as unemployment, possible negative equity, and changes in rental contributions. In such cases, borrowers should actively engage with their lenders, whether a commercial financial institution or a local authority, to seek to avail of one of the options available to provide sustainable solutions to distressed mortgages.

The mortgage arrears resolution process, already in place in respect of commercial mortgages, is now being implemented across all local authorities. In cases of acute mortgage distress, homeowners also have the option of seeking to avail of the legal process now also in place to deal with personal insolvency.

On foot of the recommendations of the Keane Report on mortgage arrears, the Government launched a Mortgage to Rent scheme on a pilot basis in February 2012. This scheme was extended nationally in June 2012, targeting those low income families whose mortgage situation is unsustainable and where there is little or no prospect of a significant change in circumstances in the foreseeable future. To date, some 40 households have availed of the Mortgage to Rent scheme facilitating low income families whose mortgage situation is unsustainable. In addition, my Department has issued full funding approval under the scheme for a further 51 housing units. The scheme ensures that the family remains in their home, while ownership is transferred to an approved housing body and the family becomes a tenant of the approved housing body. Eligibility requirements are in line with other forms of social housing support. 

The scheme for local authority borrowers in arrears, which was piloted in two local authority areas, Westmeath County Council and Dublin City Council, has now been rolled out nationally.

Mortgage to Rent Scheme Application Numbers

Questions (380)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

380. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government further to Parliamentary Question No. 46 of 12 March 2014, the number of households that have availed of the mortgage to rent scheme to date; and the local authority areas in which households are now availing of the mortgage to rent scheme. [24194/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Environment)

On foot of the recommendations of the Keane Report on mortgage arrears the Government launched a Mortgage to Rent scheme on a pilot basis in February 2012. This scheme was extended nationally in June 2012, targeting those low income families whose mortgage situation is unsustainable and where there is little or no prospect of a significant change in circumstances in the foreseeable future. The Scheme ensures that the family remains in their home, while ownership is transferred to an approved housing body who in turn rents it to the original owners. Eligibility requirements are in line with other forms of social housing support.

To date, 2,458 cases have been put forward by the lenders and, of these, 1,458 are being progressed with a total of 798 being approved for customer contact.

40 cases are completed with households paying a differential rent to an approved housing body; a breakdown by local authority area is set out in the table below. A further 72 areas have had the sale agreed and 27 are under offer. An additional 98 are at the valuation stage in the process.

A total of 235 applications have been received from applicants for Social Housing Support inclusive of the cases above. Of these, 207 have qualified for Social Housing Support, while 6 have not; the remaining 22 applications are awaiting assessment.

A total of 1,000 cases were deemed ineligible (379) or terminated (621) during the Mortgage to Rent Scheme process for various reasons including the borrower not meeting the criteria of the scheme, the borrower declining the scheme, lender withdrawing the offer of the scheme due to a change in circumstances of the borrower, local authority not having a need for the property in the particular area or an over concentration of social housing in the area already or more recently the borrower has been given an alternative option due to the introduction of additional measures. An additional 41 cases have failed to agree a sale price or the condition of the property did not allow for the sale to proceed.

The mortgage to rent option for local authority borrowers in arrears was piloted in two local authority areas, namely Westmeath County Council and Dublin City Council. The scheme was rolled out nationally in February 2014 .

To date, 40 households have availed of the Mortgage to Rent scheme. The breakdown, by local authority area, is set out in the following table.

Table – Mortgage to Rent areas completed by local authority area

Carlow Co Co

2

Clare Co Co

1

Cork City

3

Cork Co Co

2

Dublin City

5

Dun Laoghaire Rathdown Co Co

1

Fingal

1

Kildare Co Co

4

Kilkenny Co Co

2

Limerick City & County Council

3

Louth Co Co

2

Meath Co Co

4

South Dublin Co Co

4

Tipperary Co Co

2

Waterford City & County Council

2

Westmeath Co Co

1

Wicklow Co Co

1

Private Rented Accommodation Costs

Questions (381)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

381. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government further to Parliamentary Question No. 499 of 30 April 2014, if the research undertaken by the Private Residential Tenancies Board on the difficulties being experienced in segments of the private rented sector has been completed. [24195/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Environment)

In the context of increasing rents, especially in the Dublin area, I asked the PRTB to carry out research to explore options to address the difficulties being experienced in segments of the private rented sector and to report back to me with policy recommendations before the end of June. The study is underway but is not yet completed.

Irish Water Administration

Questions (382)

Noel Grealish

Question:

382. Deputy Noel Grealish asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if the water charges to be levied on private rental properties will be billed to the user or to the landlord; his views on the Water Services (No. 2) Act which states that it will be presumed, unless the contrary is proved, that the owner of a premises is also the occupier, and in that scenario, if he will indicate the level of proof necessary to ensure that water charges are billed to the user in the same way as applies to other utilities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24205/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Environment)

With effect from 1 January 2014, Irish Water is responsible for public water services. The Water Services (No. 2) Act 2013 provides that Irish Water can collect charges from its customers in receipt of water services provided by it. The Act defines a customer as the occupier of the premises in receipt of water services. In advance of the commencement of water charges in October 2014, Irish Water has confirmed to my Department that it will be engaging with every household to verify details particular to individual customers and addresses .

Building Regulations Qualifications

Questions (383)

Martin Heydon

Question:

383. Deputy Martin Heydon asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he will review the possibility of creating a register for architectural technologists who are currently excluded from a large portion of work as a result of changes implemented on 1 March; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24208/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Environment)

I refer to the reply to Question No . 76 of 5 June 2014 which deals comprehensively with the matter raised and reflects the current position. Following recent developments involving separate moves by the Chartered Institute of Architectural Technologists and the Royal Institution of Architects of Ireland to set up their own voluntary registers of architectural technologists with a view to having these registers recognised in law in due course, my Department is currently considering both sets of proposals and expects to be in position to engage with both professional bodies and other relevant stakeholders in relation to the matter shortly.

Homelessness Strategy

Questions (384, 385)

Terence Flanagan

Question:

384. Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the funding given to homelessness groups over the past five years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24254/14]

View answer

Terence Flanagan

Question:

385. Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he has considered dismantling the red tape in the homelessness sector by ceasing to fund the various groups and organisations and having his Department take over the lead role; if he has considered having a one-stop-shop to deal with homelessness; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24255/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Environment)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 384 and 385 together.

My Department’s role in relation to homelessness involves the provision of a national framework of policy, legislation and funding to underpin the role of housing authorities in addressing homelessness at local level. Statutory responsibility in relation to the provision of accommodation for homeless persons and related services rests with housing authorities. The purposes for which housing authorities may incur expenditure in addressing homelessness are prescribed in Section 10 of the Housing Act 1988.

My Department does not fund any service directly but provides funding to lead housing authorities on a regional basis towards the operational costs of homeless accommodation and related services under Section 10 of the Housing Act 1998. Housing authorities provide additional funding from their own resources. The regional approach is considered more appropriate as it helps to bring a more strategic perspective to bear on action to address homelessness, including avoidance of over-concentration of homelessness services in certain centres and promoting appropriate regional availability of services, consistent with need.

The Section 10 funding provided by my Department to housing authorities on a regional basis for the years 2009 to 2013 and the recently notified provisional allocations for 2014 are set out in the table.

Funding Provided under Section 10 of the Housing Act 1988

Region

2009

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014 Allocation

Dublin

€38,967,542

€40,521,375

€35,732,525

€32,398,290

€31,322,223

€31,322,223

South East

€1,945,792

€1,742,886

€2,110,476

€1,848,877

€1,787,469

€1,787,469

North East

€1,197,451

€1,037,617

€912,250

€910,194

€879,963

€879,963

Midlands

€872,375

€666,344

€624,897

€672,027

€649,707

€649,707

South West

€5,458,211

€4,270,143

€3,505,749

€4,418,967

€4,272,197

€4,272,197

Mid-West

€4,110,166

€3,435,607

€2,905,457

€3,516,119

€3,399,336

€3,399,336

West

€2,175,312

€1,699,288

€1,227,696

€1,581,478

€1,528,951

€1,528,951

Mid East

€885,801

€906,842

€697,665

€839,146

€811,275

€811,275

North West

€444,206

€423,355

€406,335

€360,865

€348,879

€348,879

Total

€56,056,856

€54,703,457

€48,123,050

€46,545,963

€45,000,000

€45,000,000

On 20 May 2014, I published the Implementation Plan on the State's Response to Homelessness in which the Government's approach to delivery on its objective of ending involuntary long-term homelessness by the end of 2016 was outlined. A copy of this plan is available on my Department's website, http://www.environ.ie/en/DevelopmentHousing/Housing/SpecialNeeds/HomelessPeople/

This plan sets out a range of measures to secure a ring-fenced supply of accommodation to house homeless households within the next three years and mobilise the necessary supports. Progress in implementing the plan will be reported quarterly through the Cabinet Committee on Social Policy.

Local Authority Staff Remuneration

Questions (386)

Stephen Donnelly

Question:

386. Deputy Stephen S. Donnelly asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he will provide, in tabular form, all remuneration for all local authority managers from 2008 to 2011. [24265/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Environment)

The salaries for County and City Managers, from 1 September 2008 to 31 December 2011, are set out in the table.

Local Authority Manager

Salary

01/09/08 to 31/12/09

Salary

01/01/10 to 31/12/11

Dublin City Council

€ 202,461

€ 189,301

Cork County Council

Fingal County Council

South Dublin County Council

€ 171,313

€ 162,062

Cork City Council

Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council

Kildare County Council

Meath County Council

€ 157,967

€ 153,260

Limerick City Council

Clare County Council

Donegal County Council

Galway County Council

Kerry County Council

Kilkenny County Council

Limerick County Council

Louth County Council

Mayo County Council

South Tipperary County Council

Westmeath County Council

Wexford County Council

Wicklow County Council

€ 146,845

€ 142,469

Galway City Council

Waterford City Council

Carlow County Council

Cavan County Council

Laois County Council

Leitrim County Council

Longford County Council

Monaghan County Council

Offaly County Council

Roscommon County Council

Sligo County Council

North Tipperary County Council

Waterford County Council

€ 136,581

€ 132,511

County and City Managers, Local Authority Chief Executive Officers (CEOs), formally are entitled to claim for travel and subsistence costs incurred as part of their official duties, in accordance with the relevant travel and subsistence circulars. All local authorities are obliged to ensure that only essential travel is undertaken and that related expenditure is critically appraised and monitored.

A CEO may claim up to 7.5% of their salary in substitution of motor mileage rates contained in the travel and subsistence circulars, where a local authority considers that those allowances do not adequately recompense the CEO for the extent to which their car is used for official business.

A CEO may claim an allowance in respect of entertainment expenses incurred by them in the course of their duties. The level of allowance is related to the number of Directors of Service reporting to the CEO, as set out in the following table:

CEO

Up to €2,095

CEO and one Director of Service

Up to €3,683

CEO and two Directors of Service

Up to €5,270

CEO and three or more Directors of Service

Up to €6,858

Local Government Reform Expenditure

Questions (387)

Stephen Donnelly

Question:

387. Deputy Stephen S. Donnelly asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he will provide a detailed breakdown of all costs to date and projected, arising out of the recent amalgamation of local authorities in the State, including staff severance packages. [24266/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Environment)

On 1 June 2014 the reform of local government structures, provided for in the Local Government Reform Act 2014, came into effect. As such, on that date, the town councils were dissolved and their functions, staff etc. integrated into the county council and the mergers of local authorities in Limerick, Tipperary and Waterford took effect.

In terms of the costs of replacing town councils by the national system of municipal districts, the main costs arising are in respect of gratuities payable to councillors who cease to be members of local authorities, subject to certain conditions as prescribed by Section 142 of the Local Government Act 2001 and the Local Authority Members (Gratuity) Regulations 2002 to 2006. It will take some time, based on the recent results of the local elections, to determine the cost of such gratuities. However, estimates prepared in advance of the election suggest that the net additional cost of gratuities payable to Town Councillors who did not run for election or failed to get elected to County and City and County Councils would amount to €4.6 million.  The reduced number of councillors will ensure that this once-off additional expenditure will be offset by future savings on gratuities.

Local Authority Rates

Questions (388)

Michael McGrath

Question:

388. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government under the Local Government Reform Act 2014, the current position in respect of the application of rates on vacant premises in city and county local authority areas; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24311/14]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

The Local Government Act 1946 provides that where a property in a county council or urban local authority is unoccupied on the date of the making of the rate, the owner becomes liable for rates. However, the owner is entitled to a refund if the property is vacant for specified purposes i.e. if the premises are unoccupied for the purpose of additions, alterations or repairs; where the owner is bona fide unable to obtain a suitable tenant at a reasonable rent; and where the premises are vacant pending redevelopment. The collection of rates and the determination of eligibility for a refund in this context are matters for each individual local authority.

The Local Government Act 1946 provided that the owner was entitled to a 100% refund in most local authority areas. Separate legislation governs refunds in the cities of Dublin, Limerick and Cork, where the same criteria for refunds apply but only 50% of the rates paid was refundable.

The Local Government Reform Act 2014 provides for a change to rating law in relation to the refund of rates on vacant properties and gives discretion to the elected members of individual local authorities to vary the level of rates refunds that apply in individual local electoral areas within the authority’s administrative area. This discretion allows elected members to respond to the differing characteristics of the local commercial property markets. The amendment does not make any change to the eligibility or otherwise for refunds as currently provided for in relevant legislation.

The provision commenced with effect from 1 June 2014. The Local Government (Financial and Audit Procedures) Regulations 2014 provide that the decision to alter the rate of refund should be taken at the annual budget meeting and that the rate of refund decided in respect of the relevant local electoral area shall apply to eligible persons for the year to which the budget relates. The absence of a decision to vary the refund means that the existing legislative provisions regarding the rate of refunds apply (either 100% or 50% as set out above).

Tenant Purchase Scheme Administration

Questions (389)

Michael McGrath

Question:

389. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government when a new tenant purchase scheme will become operational; the way the discount on the market value of the property will be calculated; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24312/14]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

The Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2014, for which Report and Final Stages will be taken in the Dáil tomorrow, will, among other things, underpin a new tenant purchase scheme to replace the 1995 scheme for existing local authority houses, which closed for new applications at the end of 2012. The new scheme will be broadly similar to the two incremental purchase schemes currently in operation, relating to newly-built local authority houses and local authority apartments, respectively.

I expect that the Bill will be enacted by the summer, following which I will prescribe the commencement date and the detailed terms of the scheme. I intend to relate the purchase price of the house to its market value with replacement cost also being taken into account. The Bill provides for discounts on the purchase price linked to tenant income , in the same way as the existing incremental purchase schemes.

Motor Tax Collection

Questions (390)

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

390. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the reason it is cheaper to tax a motor car for a full 12 months as opposed to paying the amount over four instalments in view of the fact that those who have to pay in instalments are usually the persons who are struggling financially; his plans to change this pricing structure; if he has no plans the reason for same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24391/14]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

Motor tax is payable on an annual, half-yearly or quarterly basis. The Finance (Excise Duties) (Vehicles) Act 1952 provides that the rate of duty for a quarterly tax disc must not exceed 30% of the annual duty applicable and sets no upper limit for a half-yearly disc. The rates of duty currently applicable to the quarterly and half-yearly discs are 28.25% and 55.5% of the annual rate, respectively. These relativities have remained generally constant since the 1960s and I have no plans currently to change them.

Non-annual transactions make up over two-thirds of all motor transactions processed. Tax rates for these discs take account of the extra staffing, administrative and printing costs for motor tax offices and the National Vehicle and Driver File (NVDF) arising from the higher number of motor tax applications and in issuing reminders for each renewal.

The estimated annual income from the increased charges for these discs is in the region of €50m. A loss in income of this magnitude would have a negative impact on the Local Government Fund and consequently on grant allocations to local authorities from the Fund, and would have to be borne elsewhere in the motor tax system, or through the taxation system generally.