Fire Service

Questions (330)

Brendan Ryan

Question:

330. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government his plans to increase the fire service’s predetermined attendance of three fire appliances and one high reaching appliance. [4811/18]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

Fire services are mobilised to incidents in accordance with a system of “pre-determined attendances” (PDAs). PDAs are the instructions given by a Chief Fire Officer (CFO) to the relevant Regional Communications Centre for the initial fire service response to a call for assistance. These include:

- Address PDAs - a listing of the order in which fire service response will be mobilised to any address;

- Incident specific PDAs (e.g. for Domestic Fires, Road Traffic Collisions etc.) setting the numbers and types of appliances to be mobilised to that category of incident;

- Specific Risk Premises PDAs (such as institutional buildings, Airports, Seveso/industrial etc.) listing the number and sequence of appliances for initial dispatch to the specific building.

All PDAs may be varied by the Incident Commander in light of information available regarding the particular circumstances. Part of the function of the three fire service Regional Communications Centres is to mobilise any additional resources ordered by the Incident Commander.

A suite of national fire service PDAs  were set out in Appendix A of the national policy document “Keeping Communities Safe”. This included a PDA for high-rise fires, as follows:

Fire – High Rise Building

PDA

Normal crew

No persons reported in building

2 Class B Appliances

9 including an officer

Persons reported in building

3 Class B Appliances or

2 Class B + 1 Aerial Appliance

13 or

11

These PDAs were derived from and are based on a ‘Task Analysis’ process associated with each incident type. Fire Services also use Standard Operational Guidance (SOG) to underpin safe and effective operations, including SOG 3.02 'Fire-fighting in High Rise Buildings'. 

One of the issues that has arisen as part of the work of the Fire Safety Task Force, which I established on 27 June 2017 in the aftermath of Grenfell Tower fire tragedy in London to reappraise fire safety in Ireland, concerns the capacity of fire services to deal with evacuation/rescues in single staircase high rise buildings. In light of this, CFOs will be advised to review their current PDAs for high-rise buildings, particularly in cases of single staircase buildings.

Water Services Funding

Questions (331)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

331. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the progress on implementing the recommendations (details supplied) of the final report of Joint Oireachtas Committee on the Future Funding of Domestic Water Services regarding ensuring equal funding for rural and urban dwellers; when this review will be completed; his plans to have a public consultation to receive stakeholder views; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4813/18]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

In late 2017, my Department conducted a review of group water schemes' subsidies. The review involved discussions with the National Federation of Group Water Schemes, the representative body of the group water sector. Discussions concluded in December, when I approved revised subsidy levels.  The new subsidy arrangements, endorsed by a special delegate conference of the Federation on 13 December 2017, came into effect on 1 January 2018.

The changes implement the recommendation contained in the report of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on the Future Funding of Domestic Water Services (JOCFFDWS), endorsed by both Houses of the Oireachtas in April 2017, that there be equity of treatment and equivalent financial support between households using public water services and those availing of private water services.

The revised subsidy levels are as follows:

1) For the annual subsidy towards the operation and maintenance costs of group water schemes providing a supply of water for domestic purposes (knows as ‘Subsidy A’):

The maximum subsidy per house in private group water schemes has increased from €140 per household to €231. An increased maximum subsidy of €281 per household is available for small schemes of less than 100 houses that are willing, in the interests of providing in the long-term a more sustainable water supply to their members, to progress towards rationalisation or amalgamation with other schemes.

The maximum subsidy per house for public group water schemes has increased from €70 per household to €115. These are schemes that supply their members with water that is provided by Irish Water.

The portion of costs than can be recouped by group water schemes has also increased. Typically up to 60% of costs have been covered by the subsidy payments. This has increased to 85%. There are also changes and simplifications to how these costs are assessed.

2) For the additional subsidy that is paid towards the costs of group water schemes that have long-term Operation and Maintenance Contracts (for example, as part of a Design Build Operate project) for the delivery of water (known as ‘Subsidy B)’:

There has been an increase in the level of volumetric costs incurred by group water schemes operating under these contracts that is recoupable, from 60% to 85%. This will allow for a greater portion of costs to be included within the subsidy payment.

In addition to the above, my Department is currently finalising proposals to increase the level of grant support for users of private wells, details of which I will be announcing shortly.

Separate to the initial review of group water scheme subsidy levels and also in fulfilment of the JOCFFDWS recommendations, I will shortly be establishing a working group to conduct a wider review of investment needs and rural water services. The review will focus on issues such as governance, supervision and monitoring of the sector, and capital investment requirements. It is anticipated that this group would engage with relevant stakeholders and will aim to complete its work by mid-2018.

Cognisance will be taken in this regard of any required measures to support the implementation of the finalised River Basin Management Plan 2018-2021, which I plan to finalise and publish early this year.

Social and Affordable Housing Provision

Questions (332)

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

332. Deputy Jan O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government his plans to establish a system to facilitate city families who are seeking social housing to relocate in rural areas in which there are vacant homes similar to Rural Resettlement Ireland (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4825/18]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

The Government's Action Plan for Rural Development: Realising our Potential has a clear objective of working across Government Departments to deliver a co-ordinated group of strategies to ensure the success of vibrant rural communities across Ireland.

My Department works closely with the Department of Rural and Community Development on rural housing issues. In relation to social housing, it is possible already for people to move between local authorities under the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) Scheme. My Department, as part of the broader social housing reform agenda, is also currently examining additional ways to facilitate households, who are qualified for social housing, and who may wish to relocate to rural areas. I expect the results of this work to be available later this year.

Social and Affordable Housing Funding

Questions (333)

Marcella Corcoran Kennedy

Question:

333. Deputy Marcella Corcoran Kennedy asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government his plans to introduce stage payments for developers during the construction phase of newly built houses contracted under the Rebuilding Ireland housing acquisition programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4844/18]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

The large majority of social housing projects initiated by local authorities are implemented through standard contracts for public works, following a competitive tendering process. Contractors in such cases are paid on a staged basis as the project advances.

Local authorities may also acquire social housing either through acquisitions of second-hand or newly completed houses, or through turnkey developments. In these circumstances payment is made on delivery, which has been the approach utilised for a number of years.  However, options do exist for local authorities to agree staged delivery with developers. Where suitable, this can facilitate the early delivery of completed housing and earlier payments to the developer.

Ministerial Advisers Data

Questions (334)

Shane Cassells

Question:

334. Deputy Shane Cassells asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the names of advisers he has appointed to his office since becoming Minister; the responsibilities of each; the previous employment of each; the salaries of each; and if he plans to make further additional appointments. [4871/18]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

Two Special Advisers, Mr. Jack O'Donnell and Ms. Jennifer Carroll MacNeill, are employed in my Department, both of whom work across a wide range of areas within the remit of my Department including Housing, Planning, Local Government, Water Services and Electoral Reform.

Immediately prior to his appointment, Mr. O'Donnell was employed as Deputy Government Press Secretary. Ms. Carroll MacNeill had previously worked as a Special Adviser in the Departments of Children and Youth Affairs and Justice and Equality.

Both are paid on the Principal Officer (Standard) PPC pay scale (€84,973 - €104,507).

I have no plans at present to make any additional appointments.

Local Authority Housing Waiting Lists

Questions (335, 351)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

335. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of local authority housing applicants on local authority lists who have been homed specifically by the local authorities in the past 12 months; the reduction of the numbers on the lists as a consequence; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4902/18]

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Bernard Durkan

Question:

351. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the degree to which he expects local authority housing waiting lists to be reduced in the next 12 months; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4963/18]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 335 and 351 together.

Details on the number of households qualified for social housing support in each local authority area are provided in the statutory Summary of Social Housing Assessments (SSHA), which are now being carried out on an annual basis. The most recently published statutory SSHA relates to the assessment carried out in June 2017. This exercise recorded the number of households on all local authority waiting lists, as at 28 June 2017. The figures reported in the SSHA refer to ‘net need’ which is the number of applicants who are qualified for social housing support but whose need is not being met. This figure excludes duplicate applications or those applicants whose need has been met but are on a transfer list.

The results of the 2017 summary show that there were 85,799 households deemed qualified for, and in need of, social housing support, which is a decrease of -6.3% (-5,801) in net need compared to the 2016 summary.

Full details in relation to the 2017 assessment are available on my Department's website, at the following link:

http://www.housing.gov.ie/sites/default/files/publications/files/sha_summary_2017.pdf.

It is important to note that social housing is a demand led service and for that reason it is difficult to predict the degree to which housing lists will decrease or increase over the next 12 months. The number of units delivered by local authorities in a given time period does not necessarily equate to the ‘net need’ for social housing support reducing by an equivalent number. The nature of the list is dynamic in that, as households are added to it, the needs of others are met and further households will leave the list for various reasons including the households themselves indicating that they no longer require State support.

In terms of meeting the need of households on waiting lists across the country, Rebuilding Ireland set ambitious targets for social housing delivery. Last year, an additional €500 million was secured during Budget 2018 negotiations, to increase the social housing delivery ambition from 47,000 to 50,000 social housing homes by end 2021. Combined with the target to deliver 88,000 tenancies under the Housing Assistance Payment  and Rental Accommodation Schemes, this means that we will meet the needs of almost 138,000 individuals and families over the lifetime of the Rebuilding Ireland plan.

Details in relation to activity during 2017 were recently published and is available at the link below

 http://rebuildingireland.ie/news/rebuilding-ireland-2017-status-report/.

During last year, just under 26,000 households had their social housing need met, well ahead of the target of just over 21,000. It should be noted that to date under Rebuilding Ireland, just under 45,000 households have had their social housing need met. We will continue to maintain a clear focus on delivery each year to 2021, ensuring that the ambitious targets set out in Rebuilding Ireland are fully achieved, including in 2018, when we have set a target to meet the social housing support needs of some 25,589 households.

Local Authority Housing Data

Questions (336, 355)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

336. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number and location of serviced or serviceable sites available to Kildare County Council for the building of local authority housing in 2018; when such houses units might be ready for occupation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4903/18]

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Bernard Durkan

Question:

355. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the extent to which specific sites have been identified in each local authority area to facilitate an emergency house building programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4967/18]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 336 and 355 together.

The active management of the publicly owned housing land bank is part of a range of complementary actions being progressed under the Rebuilding Ireland Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness, designed to accelerate and increase housing output. To this end, details of some 1,700 hectares of land in local authority and Housing Agency ownership were published on the Rebuilding Ireland Housing Land Map, with the potential to deliver some 42,500 homes nationally. This includes circa 135 hectares in the functional area of Kildare County Council. These mapped sites can be viewed at the following link:

http://rebuildingireland.ie/news/rebuilding-ireland-land-map/.

In addition to this mapping exercise, all local authorities, including Kildare County Council, have been requested to prepare Strategic Development and Management Plans for housing lands in their ownership, with particular emphasis on prioritising those sites with the greatest potential to deliver housing at scale, in the short to medium term. I want to see local authorities realise new social and affordable homes from their lands without delay. Following the Housing Summit with local authority Chief Executives on 22 January, I have asked each Chief Executive to furnish a report to me by mid-February, setting out their plans for delivery.

With regard to the social housing construction programme already underway for County Kildare, this can be seen in the Social Housing Construction Status Reports that my Department publishes quarterly. The last such report reflects the position at end-Quarter 3 of 2017 and is available on the Rebuilding Ireland website at the following link:

http://rebuildingireland.ie/news/quarter-3-social-housing-construction-status-report/.

This latest report shows projects to deliver over 340 new social homes in Kildare that are either on site, recently completed or undergoing design and planning, with funding approval in place. More projects are being approved on an ongoing basis for delivery as part of the Rebuilding Ireland targets and I have assured all local authorities that funding is in place to support delivery as soon as possible.

The delivery of additional social and affordable housing will rely on the State developing the full potential of its residential land bank. In the context of my Department's role in driving and co-ordinating housing delivery, I am establishing a dedicated Residential Land Management and Development Group to oversee this important work.

Housing Provision

Questions (337)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

337. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the extent to which he could expect to meet the ever-pressing housing needs through the development and sale of serviced private sites to suitable persons; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4904/18]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

I refer to the reply to Question No. 72 on today's Order Paper which sets out the position on this matter.

Local Authority Housing Provision

Questions (338, 348, 349, 350, 354)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

338. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government his plans for an emergency housing programme with a view to easing the housing shortage; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4905/18]

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Bernard Durkan

Question:

348. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the estimated number of local authority houses to be started and or built in 2018; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4960/18]

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Bernard Durkan

Question:

349. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of local authority homes planned by each local authority in respect of which the appropriate planning process has been concluded; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4961/18]

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Bernard Durkan

Question:

350. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of proposed local authority homes in respect of which contracts have been entered into between the local authorities and building and engineering firms excluding AHBs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4962/18]

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Bernard Durkan

Question:

354. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the extent to which each local authority has been directly involved in driving its own house building programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4966/18]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 338, 348 to 350, inclusive, and 354 together.

The Government has made housing a top priority and, through the Rebuilding Ireland Action Plan, has a framework in place to deliver an increase and acceleration in the supply of high quality housing, including social and affordable homes particularly in the major urban areas where demand is greatest.

In order to directly influence and generate supply of new homes, Rebuilding Ireland contains a suite of actions that will increase housing construction and refurbishment. Under Pillar 2 of the Action Plan, 50,000 new social homes will be delivered by 2021, supported by €6 billion in Exchequer funding. Of these, 33,500 homes will be provided through direct construction and refurbishment. Significant progress has been made in increasing the build programmes of local authorities and approved housing bodies and there are over 12,000 new homes in the social housing construction pipeline, which is being added to on a weekly basis.

With the funding made available in Budget 2018, the aim is to meet the housing needs of almost 25,500 households during 2018. Central to this delivery will be the construction of 3,800 new homes by local authorities and approved housing bodies, through direct build, turnkey developments, rapid delivery and regeneration programmes. This construction programme underpinned by a multifaceted Action Plan is, I believe, the correct way to make a fast and sustainable response to the housing crises.

The Social Housing Construction Status Reports, which I now publish quarterly, provide information on the construction programme underway for each local authority area. The last published report, which sets out the position at the end of September 2017, shows that there were over 3,600 new social homes on site and under construction and a further 2,000 new homes with approval to appoint contractors and move onto the construction phase. That report is available on my Department’s website at the following link:

http://www.housing.gov.ie/housing/rebuilding-ireland/minister-murphy-announces-additional-eu100m-housing-and-homelessness-2017.

It will be these schemes that will form the bulk of the housing starts and delivery of the 3,800 homes targeted through new builds in 2018. The precise timing for the advancement of each of these projects, including completion dates and tenanting, is a matter in the first instance for the relevant local authorities and approved housing bodies. However, my Department is working closely with the local authorities on delivery, including through a new Delivery Office and through quarterly meetings to address challenges and delays that can and do arise with individual projects.

Through these contacts, my Department working with the local authorities and approved housing bodies, is ensuring that the necessary quantum of projects is in place to meet our 2018 construction delivery targets. Further project approvals are being added to the construction programme as they are developed and these will also form part of the delivery for 2018 and beyond.

My Department does not hold comprehensive information on the planning process in the case of all social housing construction projects as this is a matter for the local authority. In the interests of expediting projects, it is common for the planning process and my Department's approval process to operate in parallel rather than in sequence. The information on social housing projects at the various stages of advancement that is published in the quarterly reports includes those that are at 'Stage 2' or 'pre-planning'. Projects beyond that stage will have secured planning approval.

Projects that are at Stage 4 and beyond have been approved by my Department to appoint contractors and I look forward to seeing the homes involved completed and families receiving keys as soon as possible.