Social and Affordable Housing Data

Questions (176)

Richard Boyd Barrett

Question:

176. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Finance the number of social housing units offered to local authorities and approved housing bodies by the name of the development and residential location and the local authority area from inception to date in 2018; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46747/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

I am advised that, following the review process undertaken by NAMA, as outlined in my response to PQ [46748/18], NAMA collated a list of potentially suitable properties which was shared with the Housing Agency. The Housing Agency, in turn, engaged with the relevant local authorities to determine if there was demand in the geographical areas in which potentially suitable houses were located.

Under sections 99 and 202 of the NAMA Act, NAMA is prohibited from disclosing confidential debtor information, including information on the assets owned by its debtors. It is therefore not possible to provide information on the exact location of properties identified as potentially suitable for social housing.

NAMA publishes comprehensive information regarding its social housing delivery programme on the agency website (www.nama.ie ). The information is updated each quarter.

The following table provides a breakdown by Local Authority of units identified as potentially suitable for social housing by NAMA since inception.

Local Authority Area

Identified by NAMA as potentially suitable

Demand confirmed by local authority

No longer under consideration*

Delivered for social housing use as at September 2018 (i.e. Complete/Contracted)

Carlow Co. Co.

193

111

82

103

Cavan Co. Co.

49

1

48

-

Clare Co. Co.

235

77

158

55

Cork City

470

157

313

138

Cork Co. Co.

817

325

492

322

Donegal Co. Co.

137

28

109

5

Dublin City

853

424

429

413

Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown Co. Co.

480

294

186

282

Fingal Co. Co.

312

150

162

143

Galway City

203

196

7

196

Galway Co. Co.

145

35

110

32

Kerry Co. Co.

221

59

162

42

Kildare Co. Co.

352

172

180

172

Kilkenny Co. Co.

189

66

123

56

Laois Co. Co.

133

36

97

35

Leitrim Co. Co.

35

0

35

-

Limerick City & Co. Co.

163

35

128

17

Longford Co. Co.

38

0

38

-

Louth Co. Co.

32

27

5

27

Mayo Co. Co.

75

21

54

-

Meath Co. Co.

236

39

197

39

Monaghan Co. Co.

65

62

3

38

Offaly Co. Co.

83

32

51

30

Roscommon Co. Co.

104

0

104

-

Sligo Co. Co.

122

29

93

4

South Dublin Co. Co.

594

148

446

146

Tipperary Co. Co.

161

0

161

-

Waterford City & Co. Co.

109

51

58

51

Westmeath Co. Co.

108

22

86

20

Wexford Co. Co.

225

107

118

102

Wicklow Co. Co.

45

14

31

7

Totals

6,984

2,718

4,266

2,475

NAMA Social Housing Provision

Questions (177)

Richard Boyd Barrett

Question:

177. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Finance the criterion used by NAMA to select residential units to be offered for social housing; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46748/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

I am advised that NAMA continuously reviews the assets of all NAMA debtors and appointed receivers to establish if vacant residential properties securing their loans could potentially be made available for social housing. This includes identifying vacant residential properties, as well as exploring opportunities to undertake remediation and completion works at a number of unfinished developments that are in the control of NAMA debtors. In instances where properties are not complete or require remediation, NAMA commits to fund their remediation and/or completion, subject to commercial viability.

Up until end-October 2018, NAMA had identified a total of 6,984 residential properties as being potentially suitably for social housing. The location of these properties was made known to the Housing Agency, which liaised with local authorities across Ireland to determine the demand for these units. NAMA had no direct interaction with the local authorities. Of the units identified, demand was confirmed by local authorities for 2,718 properties, of which 2,475 have been contracted or delivered for social housing use to date. Additionally, as part of new developments, NAMA debtors and receivers provided residential units in compliance with Part V planning obligations.

It is important to note that NAMA’s debtors have the right to maximise the sales value of properties securing their loans so as to enable them to maximise their debt repayments. Therefore, NAMA cannot require a debtor to take action which would reduce his/her repayment capacity, such as the sale of property at less than its market value.

NAMA Social Housing Provision

Questions (178)

Richard Boyd Barrett

Question:

178. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Finance the reasons given to NAMA for rejection and acceptance, respectively, by the local authorities and approved housing bodies of the social housing units offered to them; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46749/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

I am advised that NAMA has no role in the process of confirming demand for, and assessing the suitability of, properties for social housing. This is a matter between the Housing Agency and local authorities.

I am advised that an important consideration for local authorities is the requirement to provide for an appropriate mix of housing tenures and to avoid undue housing segregation within individual developments and wider residential areas. In some cases, properties for which demand was confirmed subsequently became unavailable – for example, they were sold or let during the period in which a decision was awaited from the local authority concerned. This is to be expected in the case of a live portfolio. In other cases, the properties identified were incomplete and required remediation works, which NAMA committed to funding if required.

The following table provides a breakdown by local authority of the 4,266 units involved and sets out the reasons given as to why the units were not utilised for social housing.

Local Authority

No Demand

Not suitable – sustainable communities

Not Suitable for other reasons

Not Available

Carlow Co. Co.

27

28

0

27

Cavan Co. Co.

15

17

0

16

Clare Co. Co.

31

118

0

9

Cork City

0

178

0

135

Cork Co. Co.

106

7

0

379

Donegal Co. Co.

16

34

0

59

Dublin City

15

223

8

183

Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown Co. Co.

6

32

17

131

Fingal Co. Co.

6

0

12

144

Galway City

0

0

0

7

Galway Co. Co.

20

40

0

50

Kerry Co. Co.

76

0

0

86

Kildare Co. Co.

48

14

19

99

Kilkenny Co. Co.

34

6

0

83

Laois Co. Co.

47

9

0

41

Leitrim Co. Co.

35

0

0

0

Limerick City & Co. Co.

70

16

0

42

Longford Co. Co.

15

0

0

23

Louth Co. Co.

5

0

0

0

Mayo Co. Co.

17

0

0

37

Meath Co. Co.

60

28

0

109

Monaghan Co. Co.

3

0

0

0

Offaly Co. Co.

37

0

0

14

Roscommon Co. Co.

55

0

0

49

Sligo Co. Co.

60

0

20

13

South Dublin Co. Co.

0

446

0

0

Tipperary Co. Co.

91

57

0

13

Waterford City & Co. Co.

41

10

0

7

Westmeath Co. Co.

65

3

0

18

Wexford Co. Co.

65

0

0

53

Wicklow Co. Co.

0

0

16

15

Totals

1,066

1,266

92

1,842

NAMA Property Construction

Questions (179)

Richard Boyd Barrett

Question:

179. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Finance the new developments in which residential units were funded by NAMA from inception to date in 2018, by the development location and local authority area; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46750/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

I am advised that, since 2014, NAMA has funded the construction of 8,013 new residential units in Ireland on residential development land under the control of its debtors and receivers. It is important to note that NAMA can only fund developments which are under the control of its debtors and receivers and which are commercially viable.

Under Sections 99 and 202 of the NAMA Act, NAMA is prohibited from disclosing confidential debtor information, including information on assets owned by its debtors. It is therefore not possible to identify the exact location of these assets.

The breakdown by local authority area of the units funded by NAMA from inception to end-September 2018 is set out in the table below.

Local Authority

Units

Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Council

2,003

South Dublin County Council

1,482

Fingal County Council

1,328

Dublin City Council

908

Cork County Council

681

Kildare County Council

577

Wicklow County Council

308

Galway City Council

201

Meath County Council

127

Cork City Council

102

Laois County Council

75

Wexford County Council

56

Kilkenny County Council

42

Clare County Council

37

Monaghan County Council

36

Waterford County Council

34

Galway County Council

16

Total

8,013

Employment Investment Incentive Scheme

Questions (180)

Peter Burke

Question:

180. Deputy Peter Burke asked the Minister for Finance further to Parliamentary Question No. 34 of 10 October 2017, the timeframe for small businesses to be approved by the Revenue Commissioners for the employment investment incentive, EII, scheme; if he will address the delay for a company (details supplied) in County Longford; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46779/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

I am advised by Revenue that the company referred to applied for outline approval on 18 August 2017, which was approved on 4 December 2017. An EII1 Application was then received from the company on the 11 May 2018. Additional information and clarifications were sought from the company from 1 August to 22 October. The company received an answer from Revenue on 9 November.

The Deputy will note that, in Finance Bill 2018, I have moved to change the administration of EII to a self-certification model. Under this model, a company will be able to self-certify that it complies with the conditions of the relief applicable to the company, while investors will self-certify that they meet the conditions of the relief applicable to the investors. In this way, companies and investors will not have to wait on Revenue’s certification before claiming relief.

Tax Data

Questions (181, 182)

Bríd Smith

Question:

181. Deputy Bríd Smith asked the Minister for Finance if a figure (details supplied) in revenue from corporation taxes comes from the four commercial gas fields in Irish waters or from the entire category of mining and utilities sector. [46837/18]

View answer

Bríd Smith

Question:

182. Deputy Bríd Smith asked the Minister for Finance the companies and geographic sites involved in the category of mining and utilities sector that are liable to pay corporation tax; and if he will itemise the contribution to the overall figure from each of these companies. [46838/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 181 and 182 together.

I am informed by Revenue that the net Corporation Tax receipts from the mining and utilities sector overall for the calendar year 2017 was in the region of €45.03 million. Receipts for earlier years are available at: https://www.revenue.ie/en/corporate/information-about-revenue/statistics/receipts/receipts-taxhead.aspx.

Due to Revenue’s obligation to protect the confidentiality of taxpayer information, it is not possible to itemise the contribution from individual gas fields or companies.

Tax Agreements

Questions (183)

Micheál Martin

Question:

183. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Finance if he will report on the EU proposals on digital taxation; and if his other EU counterparts have discussed the need for change in this area with him directly. [46799/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

The Deputy will be aware that the Commission proposal for an interim Digital Service Tax, which imposes a 3% levy on the turnover of certain companies’ digital activities, is currently being debated among Member States – both at a technical and political level.

Most recently, digital tax was on the agenda at ECOFIN on 6 November where I reiterated Ireland’s principled opposition to the proposal and took the opportunity to remind my fellow Finance Ministers of the achievements that have been made in the field of international tax reform when we have cooperated at a global level.

I also highlighted particular concerns I have regarding the negative consequences for Europe, as a predominantly exporting bloc, from creating a precedent of taxation at point of consumption rather than where value is created. I pointed out that taxing revenue rather than profits would undermine European competitiveness and could intensify already heightened trade tensions.

While Ireland is among a number of Member States which object to the fundamental nature of the proposal, we are joined by a wider group which share our concerns on a series of technical issues yet to be resolved. Discussions will continue this month on the many outstanding technical issues on the proposal with the topic likely to be back on the agenda for December’s ECOFIN.

Ireland remains committed to global tax reform and believes that global solutions are needed to ensure tax is paid by companies where value is created. That is why Ireland has been a committed participant in, and strong supporter of, tax reform efforts led by the OECD through the BEPS process. Ireland will continue to actively engage with work in the area of the digital economy at both OECD and EU level.

Departmental Staff Data

Questions (184)

Michael Moynihan

Question:

184. Deputy Michael Moynihan asked the Minister for Finance the number of senior positions held by both men and women, respectively, in his Department. [47000/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

I wish to inform the Deputy that the senior management team of my Department consists of the grades Secretary General, Assistant Secretary, Director, Principal, Assistant Principal and Special Adviser.

The table below outlines the gender breakdown for each grade as at 8th November 2018.

Grade

Male

Female

Secretary General

1

0

Assistant Secretary

6

0

Director

1

0

Principal

18

9

Special Adviser (1 PO, 1 AP)

2

0

Assistant Principal

39

29

Total

67

38

Insurance Industry Regulation

Questions (185)

Richard Boyd Barrett

Question:

185. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Finance if there is a cap on the percentage an insurance company is entitled to increase a life insurance premium by in order to maintain cover; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47016/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

At the outset, it is important to note that as Minister for Finance, I am responsible for the development of the legal framework governing financial regulation. Neither I nor the Central Bank of Ireland can interfere in the provision or pricing of insurance products, as these matters are of a commercial nature, and are determined by insurance companies based on an assessment of the risks they are willing to accept. This position is reinforced by the EU framework for insurance which expressly prohibits Member States from adopting rules which require insurance companies to obtain prior approval of the pricing or terms and conditions of insurance products.

In a general sense, it is my understanding that insurers use a combination of rating factors in making their individual decisions on whether to offer life insurance cover and what terms to apply. These factors can include age, health, family medical history, occupation and lifestyle. In addition, these may be determined or linked to the length of time with which such a policy may last. Furthermore, my understanding is that insurers do not all use the same combination of rating factors, and as a result prices and availability of cover varies across the market, and that they will price in accordance with their own past claims experience.

Based on the assumption that the Deputy is referring to whole-of-life insurance policies, I have been advised that in the early years the payments for such products are higher than the cost of the policy holder’s chosen benefits with the extra money paid going into a plan fund. However, protection benefits become more expensive as policy holders get older with the result that payments into the plan begin to equal the cost of the chosen benefits. In the later years of reviewable protection plans, the cost of the benefits increases significantly, and in order to keep the level of benefits at the current level of payments, the difference is made up from the plan fund.

In order to see if the consumer’s regular payment plus any fund that has been built up is enough to cover their chosen benefits for their reviewable protection plan, an insurance company carries out regular reviews of these plans. During such a review the insurance company may find that the consumer’s current level of payments is enough to maintain the level of cover that the consumer wants. However, the insurance company may also find that the current level of payments is not enough to maintain the level of cover desired by the consumer, thus explaining why a number of people are finding that their premiums are increasing.

In conclusion, while I have sympathy for the concerns that have been expressed, it is important to note that I am unable to direct insurance companies as to the pricing level or terms or conditions that they should apply, including on the imposition of caps for increases in order to maintain cover under life insurance policies.

Disabled Drivers and Passengers Scheme

Questions (186)

Robert Troy

Question:

186. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Finance if the threshold for remission of vehicle registration tax to take account of the 1% surcharge that will be levied on all new diesel cars as announced in budget 2019 (details supplied) will be increased. [47020/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

I am informed by Revenue that Statutory Instrument No. 353 of 1994, Disabled Drivers and Disabled Passengers (Tax Concessions) Regulations 1994, which provides for reliefs for disabled drivers, disabled passengers and organisations, was considerably revised by Statutory Instrument No. 634 of 2015 taking effect from 1 January 2016.

A part of this wide-ranging revision was to significantly increase the tax reliefs available from €9,525 and €15,875 to €10,000, €16,000 and €22,000 depending on the level of adaptation to the vehicle.

While the reliefs are available as a repayment of VRT and VAT, they are intended to cover the cost of the adaptions to the car, rather than merely provide a repayment of tax on the vehicle, and in this regard the maximum amounts are very significant.

The Scheme represents a significant tax expenditure, costing €65m in each of 2016 and 2017. This figure does not include the revenue foregone in respect of the relief from Motor Tax. I have no plans to increase the maximum tax reliefs under the scheme.

Local Authority Functions

Questions (187)

Maurice Quinlivan

Question:

187. Deputy Maurice Quinlivan asked the Minister for Finance if he will provide local authorities with the power to introduce a transient occupancy tax on hotel rooms; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47022/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

In Budget 2019 I provided for an increase in VAT on hotel accommodation as part of the reversion from 9% to 13.5% for tourism related activities. I have no plans to implement further changes to this sector at this time.

Fiscal Data

Questions (188)

Jonathan O'Brien

Question:

188. Deputy Jonathan O'Brien asked the Minister for Finance the projected fiscal space, inflation rate and rates of growth in GDP and GNI for the years 2020 to 2024. [47032/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

As I have outlined previously, ‘fiscal space’ is no longer a useful concept. Government budgetary policy is instead guided by the appropriate fiscal stance - the position that is right for the economy at this point in time and ensures steady, sustainable improvements in public services and living standards.

The table below details the forecasts for inflation (both the headline and core Harmonised Index of Consumer Prices (HICP)), GDP and GNI from 2020-2023. Forecasts beyond 2023 have not been compiled by my Department.

2020

2021

2022

2023

HICP

1.7

2.9

2.4

2.6

Core HICP^

1.8

3.0

2.4

2.6

Real GDP Growth

3.6

2.5

2.6

2.7

Nominal GNI Growth

5.2

4.2

4.3

4.4

^ Core inflation excludes energy and unprocessed food from the index.

Gambling Sector

Questions (189)

Willie Penrose

Question:

189. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Finance if, in the context of the recent increase in budget 2019 raising the betting tax from 1% to 2%, he will consider the alternative proposal that will achieve greater action in the Exchequer by levying the tax payable upon gross profit retail increased online and 25% commissions, rather than the current proposal which is levied upon total turnover, and which as continuation could perpetuate a loss of in excess of 3,000 jobs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47089/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

As announced in the Budget I have increased the rate of betting duty from 1 per cent to 2 per cent for all bookmakers and the rate of betting intermediary duty from 15% to 25% on the commission earned for betting intermediaries. These measures will take effect from 1 January 2019.

The rate of betting duty at 1% on the amount of bets wagered in Ireland is at an all-time low, and betting duty receipts are exceptionally low when compared to other sectors subject to excise taxes. It is also the case that there is no VAT applied on betting transactions. With the Betting (Amendment) Act 2015 now well embedded in, I believe it is timely to increase the rates of Betting Duty and Betting Intermediary Duty.

I acknowledge that advances in technology have challenged existing business models and have changed the structure of many markets, including the betting market, with more betting taking place online. I further acknowledge that smaller bookmakers may have ongoing difficulties competing in that environment or indeed with large retail bookmakers. While I have sympathy for small bookmakers I cannot apply the increase to some bookmakers and not others. Ultimately many taxes on goods or services are passed through to the end consumers and bookmakers will need to make commercial decisions on such matters.

I should point out that my Department held a consultation with the sector last year asking if the current model was appropriate and the overwhelming response was that it was. The main focus of the sector's engagement during this consultation was to oppose any increase in the betting duty, which leaves me with few options in this regard other than to impose a straight forward increase in the current regime.

My Department very recently received a proposal from the sector advocating for a change to a gross profit tax model. This is something I am willing to consider in the context of Budget 2020, notwithstanding concerns brought to my attention about the compatibility of this proposal with EU rules and the greater capacity within the model to reduce overall betting duty receipts.

Finally, we must also acknowledge the raised public consciousness of the problem of gambling in society. While problem gambling can result in the problem gambler, and their family, bearing the severest of economic and of course personal costs, the social costs of problem gambling can extend to their employers and to public institutions in the health, welfare and justice systems, such costs ultimately borne by taxpayers. This needs to be better reflected within the betting duty regime.

Flood Prevention Measures

Questions (190)

Micheál Martin

Question:

190. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the status of the flood defences that have been commenced since June 2016; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46612/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Public)

The following is the current position on the flood defence schemes that have commenced construction since June 2016.

Construction of major flood relief projects has commenced in 12 locations across seven counties since June 2016.

The implementation of the many smaller projects funded under the OPW Minor Flood Mitigation Works and Coastal Protection Scheme is the responsibility of individual Local Authorities.

In Co. Cork... Bandon - Construction works commenced in mid 2016 and are due for completion in early 2019. The Scheme is largely operational at this stage.

Skibbereen - Construction works commenced in mid 2016 and are due to be completed in the first half of 2019.

Clonakilty - The Clonakilty Flood Relief Scheme is designed to protect the town of Clonakilty from fluvial and tidal flooding. Construction commenced in April 2018 and works are expected to be completed within approximately two years of commencement.

In Co. Galway... Claregalway - Construction works commenced in mid 2016 and are due to be completed in the first half of 2019.

Dunkellin - Construction works commenced in mid 2016 and are due to be completed in the first half of 2019.

In Co. Limerick... King's Island (Advance Works) - The King’s Island Flood Relief Scheme is expected to go to planning next year. Advance works on Verdant Place, King's Island (re-pointing the existing stonewall and construction of reinforced concrete wall to the rear) were completed by OPW direct labour in 2017.

Foynes - The tidal flood relief scheme includes a wall over a 1.3km stretch (mainly sheet piled) with 7 demountable barriers of varying lengths and other ancillary works, and protects Foynes from the 1 in 200-year tidal flood risk within the port. Works commenced in September 2016 and were completed in mid 2017.

In Co. Meath... Northlands – Construction of this scheme, which consists of in-situ reinforced concrete walls and precast concrete “U-channels”, began in November 2016 by OPW (direct staff), and was substantially completed in Q1 of 2018.

Ashbourne - Advance works are currently being undertaken by OPW direct labour. A detailed design for a full scheme is nearly complete and work is expected to commence in early 2019 with a 12 month construction programme.

In Co. Tipperary... Templemore - The Templemore flood relief scheme commenced construction in June 2017, with works being done directly by OPW staff, with specialist contractors engaged as necessary. OPW staff have been in ongoing discussions with landowners in the area, as well as with relevant bodies such as IFI and the local angling club. It is envisaged that, barring significant delays, works should be completed in late 2019.

In Co. Westmeath... Athlone - Construction works commenced in late 2017 and will continue until 2020.

In Co. Louth... Bellurgan - Louth County Council is progressing the works which commenced in 2017 and are now substantially complete.

Commission for Public Service Appointments

Questions (191)

Catherine Connolly

Question:

191. Deputy Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the details of investigations conducted by the Commission for Public Service Appointments regarding the blic recruitment process in the University of Limerick in 2015; the findings of such a report; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46982/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Public)

As the Deputy will be aware, the Commission for Public Service Appointments is the regulatory body for recruitment and selection in the civil and public service. It is responsible for ensuring that appointments to publicly funded positions, that fall within its remit, are done so fairly, transparently and on the basis of merit.

Appointments that fall within the remit of the Commission are those that are subject to the provisions of the Public Service Management (Recruitment and Appointments) Act, 2004. This includes appointments to:

- Positions in the Civil Service

- Certain positions in An Garda Síochána

- Positions to which the Local Authorities Act 1926 applies

- Positions in the HSE

- Positions in certain public service bodies

The CPSA has informed me that as appointments to positions within Irish universities are not those which are subject to the provisions of the Public Service Management (Recruitment and Appointments) Act, 2004, they are not therefore subject to oversight by the Commission.

With regard to an investigation into recruitment processes in the University of Limerick in 2015, this is not one which was carried out by the Commission, or in which it was involved. The Commission is therefore not in a position to provide any information on the findings of the investigation.

Ministerial Meetings

Questions (192)

Micheál Martin

Question:

192. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the policy regarding the need for note taking when Ministers and-or Ministers of State meet business and other leaders; the way in which this policy is outlined; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46496/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Public)

I can inform the Deputy that it would be normal practice for a Department official to accompany the Minister and or Minister of State at meetings with business and other leaders.

My Department's Records Management Guidelines set out the arrangements for filing records of meetings in my Department. These inform efficient record keeping, which supports the Department’s business needs and compliance with the relevant legislation.

The Records Management Guidelines provide that all formal meetings should be properly documented or minuted. In relation to informal meetings, the Guidelines provide that Officers should briefly document significant informal meetings and telephone conversations in cases where this demonstrates the rationale behind decisions, or to record when significant policy or administrative decisions are being relayed, or to note a request or an approval.