Local Authority Functions

Questions (304)

Barry Cowen

Question:

304. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government further to Parliamentary Question No. 656 of 23 January 2018, the legislation that underpins each of the principal response agencies and principal emergency services. [4715/18]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

Local authorities are designated as Principal Response Agencies under the provision of the Framework for Major Emergency Management which was approved by Government decision in 2006.

Local authorities operate under the provisions of the Local Government Act 2001 and other local government legislation including the Local Government (Reform) Act 2014. This legislation provides, inter alia, for the establishment, titles and administrative areas of local authorities and local authorities carry out their roles and functions in accordance with the provisions contained within the local government legislation.

Under the Fire Services Acts 1981 and 2003 local authorities are designated as fire authorities. Fire services are provided by local authorities in accordance with the provisions of these Acts.

Responsibility for legislation related to the other designated principal response agencies, An Garda Síochána and the Health Service Executive, lies with the Department of Justice and Equality and the Department of Health, respectively. 

Ministerial Correspondence

Questions (305)

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

305. Deputy Jan O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if he has received correspondence (details supplied) in regard to the purchase of a house in Bray, County Wicklow, by Wicklow County Council for the purpose of providing car parking spaces; his plans to intervene under the Part 8 process; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4746/18]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

I have received the correspondence referred to by the Deputy.

As the Deputy is aware, I have no role in the approval process set down in section 179 of the Planning and Development Act 2000 (as amended) and Part 8 of the Planning and Development Regulations 2001 (as amended) for proposed developments by local authorities that fall within the classes of development prescribed under section 179 of the Act.

It would therefore be inappropriate for me to comment on any individual proposal being advanced by a local authority under those procedures, which is a matter for the individual local authority concerned.

Local Authority Housing Waiting Lists

Questions (306)

Richard Boyd Barrett

Question:

306. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if local authorities are obliged to inform those seeking council accommodation of their position on the waiting list; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4749/18]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

Local authorities are by law (Section 63(1) of the Local Government Act 2001) independent in the performance of their functions. This means that the provision of social housing support is entirely a matter for the local authority concerned in accordance with its allocation scheme.

It is the local authority, which assesses housing applicants, taking into account factors such as the condition and affordability of existing accommodation, medical and compassionate grounds, etc. The authority then prioritises the needs of approved applicants in accordance with its allocation scheme. Housing authorities may prioritise certain classes of households for allocation on the basis of severity of need as they see fit. 

Oversight and management of the lists of qualified households awaiting accommodation, including the allocation and transfer of tenancies, is a matter for the relevant housing authority in accordance with Section 20 of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009 and associated Social Housing Assessment Regulations. While there is no obligation on local authorities to inform those seeking council accommodation of their position on any waiting list, I understand that many local authorities do routinely provide such information, on request. In the context of the 2018 Summary of Social Housing Assessment process, my Department will engage further with local authorities on this matter.

Rental Sector

Questions (307, 308, 309, 311, 312, 345)

Catherine Martin

Question:

307. Deputy Catherine Martin asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the definition of cost rental housing his Department is using; the definition of cost rental being used when promoting the pilot cost rental model in Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council announced in the affordable homes initiative on 22 January 2018; the way in which cost rental as announced in this model is different from typical mixed tenure State housing projects; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4752/18]

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Catherine Martin

Question:

308. Deputy Catherine Martin asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government his definition of affordable rental housing; if this differs from cost rental housing; the definitions and differences between both models, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4754/18]

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Catherine Martin

Question:

309. Deputy Catherine Martin asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government his definition of affordable rental housing; the affordable rental costs under proposals, by local authority, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4755/18]

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Catherine Martin

Question:

311. Deputy Catherine Martin asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if an example of a cost rental project that fits his description of best practice in the provision of cost rental housing can be provided. [4759/18]

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Catherine Martin

Question:

312. Deputy Catherine Martin asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if an example of an affordable rental project that fits his description of best practice in the provision of affordable rental housing can be provided. [4760/18]

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Eamon Ryan

Question:

345. Deputy Eamon Ryan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the timeframe for which an affordable rental scheme will be brought from concept to commencement on site; the length of time local authorities should have to wait before they can start building once they have a concept; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4920/18]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 307 to 309, inclusive, 311, 312 and 345 together.

I refer to the reply to Question No. 83 on today's Order Paper, which outlines the position with regard to the development of an affordable rental scheme, to be based on a cost rental model.

In addition, the policy aim in relation to affordable rental is to enable local authorities, in urban areas of high demand, to facilitate long-term affordable residential accommodation for low- to moderate-income households. Through releasing the value of their land, the cost of providing rental units can be reduced by lowering the initial investment and development costs for providers. These providers could be Approved Housing Bodies or private entities.

One of the main objectives of the Affordable Rental Scheme is to enhance the capacity of the rented sector to provide quality and affordable accommodation for households currently paying a disproportionate amount of disposable income on rent. Cost rental has similar objectives but is much broader in scope, with the model based on rents that reflect the cost of delivery of a home, rather than based on the prevailing market rent. Rents are set at levels to recover the construction costs and to facilitate the management and administration of developments, but with only a minimal profit margin included. This provides greater certainty around the rent, regardless of what is happening in the market.

The piloting of the Affordable Rental Scheme, by the Housing Agency and Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Council at Enniskerry Road, provides an opportunity to prove some of the key concepts underpinning cost rental more broadly, constituting a vital step in the longer-term objective of developing a cost rental option for the wider rental sector. The cost rental sector can provide accommodation in mixed-tenure developments for social tenants, who receive rent support, and other tenants who pay the full cost rent.

I expect local authorities to be proactive in developing and bringing forward innovative concepts regarding the use of their land for the delivery of both affordable homes for purchase and rent. Therefore, I have asked each local authority to furnish a report to me by mid-February, setting out their plans for delivery, especially those in main urban centres.

In terms of the timeline for delivery, like all publicly funded construction projects, the development of local authority sites for cost rental homes must comply with the Government’s Capital Works Management Framework and procurement rules, the objectives of which are to ensure greater cost certainty, better value for money and financial accountability.

Rental Sector

Questions Nos. 311 and 312 answered with Question No. 307.

Questions (310)

Catherine Martin

Question:

310. Deputy Catherine Martin asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government his definition of affordable rental housing, as announced in the Cork South Docks project in his statement on the affordable homes initiative on 22 January 2018; if in this model, the property at the end of 25 years will be returned to the ownership of the State or if it will be owned by the private developer; his views on whether this pilot project will be a model setting the standard for best practice in affordable rental provision; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4758/18]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

I have approved a Local Infrastructure Housing Activation Fund (LIHAF) project for the South Docks in Cork City for the construction of road infrastructure and parks at a total cost of €15.50 million.  This public infrastructure will stimulate associated housing delivery of approximately 620 housing units by 2021 and it is expected that these apartments will be primarily for the rental market. 

The LIHAF cost reduction element is currently structured around the provision of approximately 40 apartments for use by Cork City Council as part of an affordable rent scheme that they will develop, using a rent credit to provide affordable rent to persons nominated by Cork City Council over a 25-year period.  The homes will revert to the developer at the end of this period. 

This model was developed specifically for the LIHAF project at South Docks and is being considered as a potential pilot approach in the context of providing affordable rental solutions.  

As part of a package of initiatives announced earlier this month to help alleviate affordability pressures faced by households, I am proposing to develop a new affordable rental scheme, to be based on a cost rental model. Further details on the suite of initiatives announced can be found at http://rebuildingireland.ie/news/min-murphys-statement-on-affordable-homes/.

The cost rental model provides that the rent paid covers the cost of building the property, together with on-going management and maintenance charges, but with only a minimal profit margin included. This provides greater certainty around the rent, regardless of what is happening in the market. A pilot cost rental project is currently being progressed by Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council, in conjunction with the Housing Agency, and an Approved Housing Body, using land owned by the Agency. I expect this pilot to go to the market later this year to secure a development partner and the best value for the State and prospective renters.

Questions Nos. 311 and 312 answered with Question No. 307.