Tax Yield

Questions (110)

Eoin Ó Broin

Question:

110. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Finance the tax yield for each carbon fuel type by year in tabular form; and the total for each year since the carbon tax was first introduced. [14380/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

I am advised by Revenue that the tax yield for Carbon Tax and each carbon fuel type for the years 2010 to 2017 is published on the Revenue website and is available at link: https://www.revenue.ie/en/corporate/documents/statistics/excise/net-receipts-by-commodity.pdf. The provisional yield for each carbon fuel type for 2018 is provided in the table below.

2018

€m

Auto diesel

182.8

Petrol

48.1

Aviation Gasoline

0.0

Kerosene

58.6

MGO

54.1

Fuel Oil

1.8

LPG (other)

10.2

Auto LPG

0.1

Natural Gas

50.0

SFCT

25.3

Total

431.1

The 2018 finalised yields for each carbon fuel type will be published on the Revenue website by end Q3 2019.

VAT Rate Increases

Questions (111)

Brendan Griffin

Question:

111. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Finance if he will address a matter (details supplied) regarding the increase in VAT rate; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14415/19]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

The 9% VAT rate was introduced as a temporary measure in 2011, due to cease at the end of 2013. This period was subsequently extended, but in 2017 a commitment was given to undertake a review of the 9% VAT rate. This review was published in July 2018 and the Budget decision to increase the VAT rate was made following that analysis.

The matter referred to by the Deputy in this instance is one of contract law, and not a matter for the Minister for Finance.

NAMA Social Housing Expenditure

Questions (112)

Eoin Ó Broin

Question:

112. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Finance the full cost of the social housing units leased from the National Asset Residential Property Services, NARPS; the cost of the initial loans purchased by NAMA; the cost of purchasing the units by NARPS; and the full length and cost of the leases. [14429/19]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

I wish to advise the Deputy that NARPS was established by NAMA as a means of expediting social housing delivery. It purchases suitable houses and apartments directly from NAMA debtors and receivers at market value and leases them to local authorities (LAs) and Approved Housing Bodies (AHBs). This allows social housing bodies with limited capital funding to obtain immediate access to high-quality housing via long term leases and has proven to be a very effective method of social housing delivery.

I am advised by NAMA that NARPS purchases properties, for which demand has been confirmed by LAs and AHBs, directly from NAMA debtors and receivers. The prices paid by NARPS are based on prevailing market rates confirmed by independent valuations at the time of the sale. I am advised that NARPS has invested approximately €210m in the purchase of suitable properties from NAMA debtors and receivers.

I am advised that it is not technically possible to differentiate and assign the portion of the cost of the acquired loans which relate only to the NARPS units. Many of NAMA’s acquired loans were collateralised by multiple properties and the NARPS units form part of the collateral to loans along with other units and other properties.

NARPS properties are leased to LAs and AHBs under standardised lease terms. Each NARPS lease term is 20 years and 9 months. I am advised that rents are agreed directly between NAMA and the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government and are typically set so as to fall within a range of 78% to 83% of prevailing market rents at the time of the lease.

NARPS lease rental income for each financial year is set out below. This information is available in NARPS’ published annual accounts.

Year

Lease Rental Income

€'000

2013

54

2014

768

2015

3,626

2016

6,461

2017

10,466

I also wish to advise the Deputy that, under the terms of the current NARPS lease, the LAs/AHBs have the option to purchase the leased properties during the fourteenth year of the lease at a discount. Whether they decide to do so is entirely at their discretion; it is not at the discretion of NARPS.

Credit Availability

Questions (113)

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

113. Deputy Jan O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Finance if his attention has been drawn to the difficulty persons that wish to downsize are experiencing in accessing bridging loans; if this issue will be addressed in his contact with the Central Bank and the wider banking sector; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14452/19]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

There are a number of regulatory measures which apply to the provision of new residential mortgage credit, including bridging finance for such a purpose, to consumers. These include the European Union (Consumer Mortgage Credit Agreements) Regulations 2016 and the Central Bank Consumer Protection Code (2012). These measures place a number of obligations on lenders in relation to the provision of residential mortgage credit including the requirement to:

- where relevant, obtain relevant information from the borrower on his/her needs and objectives, personal circumstances and financial situation;

- assess the affordability of credit and the suitability of a product or service based on the individual circumstances of the borrower;

- provide credit only where the creditworthiness assessment indicates that the borrower is likely to meet his/her obligations in the manner required under the credit agreement.

However, within the applicable regulatory framework, it remains a matter for each lender to set its own credit policies and to make its own lending decisions on applications for mortgage or other credit. Neither the Minister for Finance nor the Central Bank of Ireland, has a role in such commercial decisions made by lenders. However, I have been informed by the covered banks that, while in general they do not see a strong demand for residential bridging finance, they will consider and assess such applications in accordance with their own credit policies.

Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman

Questions Nos. 115 and 116 answered with Question No. 107.

Questions (114)

Pearse Doherty

Question:

114. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance the average time taken by the Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman to acknowledge a complaint; if he will decide on the validity of the complaint and resolve cases in 2018; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14485/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

Firstly, I must point out that the Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman (FSPO) is independent in the performance of his statutory functions. I have no role in the day to day workings of the office or in the decisions which he takes.

However the Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman's Office has informed me that it aims to acknowledge all written communications within 10 working days, which includes the acknowledgement of new complaints. However, the number of complaints received in 2018 caused the Office to be unable to process complaints as quickly as it would have wished and the Office acknowledged that often it did not succeed in acknowledging complaints within the desired 10 working day timeframe.

I should also add that I have recently approved a substantial increase in staff in the FSPO which I expect to assist the FSPO in fulfilling its remit to independently resolve complaints against financial services and pensions providers.

In relation to the assessment of validity of a complaint, it is worth noting that the FSPO often receives complaints which are appropriate for a different Ombudsman or relate to products and services or service providers that do not fall within the remit of the FSPO. Where possible, the complainant is redirected to the appropriate body. The FSPO has informed me that, in 2018, 142 ineligible complaints were closed in this way. A further 100 complaints were closed in 2018 during the adjudication process, following consideration of jurisdictional issues. In some instances where complex jurisdictional issues arise, I understand that the FSPO often has to undertake considerable work in order to come to a determination as to whether the Office had jurisdiction to deal with a complaint.

I would also remind the Deputy that the FSPO wrote to all members of the Houses of the Oireachtas informing them of the Protocol for the Provision of Information to Members of the Oireachtas by State Bodies and providing a dedicated email address for the timely provision of information to members of the Oireachtas.

Questions Nos. 115 and 116 answered with Question No. 107.

Garda Station Refurbishment

Questions (117)

Niall Collins

Question:

117. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform his plans to provide additional and improved facilities at a Garda station (details supplied) in view of the clear need in that regard; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14295/19]

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Written answers (Question to Public)

Under the current Garda Capital Programme 2016-2021, the Office of Public Works proposes to provide a Property and Exhibits Management Stores (PEMS) at Tallaght Garda Station. It is also planned to carry out minor refurbishment works on the ground floor toilet accommodation later this year.

Public Procurement Contracts

Questions (118)

Brendan Griffin

Question:

118. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if he will address a matter (details supplied) relating to target value design in construction; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14439/19]

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Written answers (Question to Public)

Last week I launched a review of procurement policy for public works projects which will deliver significant changes to the Capital Works Management Framework (CWMF) over the coming years. The review process will involve extensive engagement both with industry stakeholders and with the public bodies charged with the delivery of public works projects on a broad range of issues and will extend over the next 12 - 18 months.

The CWMF represents the tools that a public body must use to procure and manage the external resources necessary to deliver public works projects that are delivered under the Exchequer-funded element of the National Development Plan.

The initiative is being led by the Office of Government Procurement, in conjunction with the Government Contracts Committee for Construction, and is a key recommendation arising out of the performance review of the public works contracts. The scope is broader on this occasion and will look at the manner in which both construction consultancy services and building contractors are procured and the contract conditions under which they are engaged. Different delivery methods will be considered as part of the review.

Pension Levy

Questions (119)

John McGuinness

Question:

119. Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if the pension-related deductions applied to overtime in the Irish Prison Service will be refunded to those involved in view of the fact they do not qualify for pension entitlements based on overtime payments; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14447/19]

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Written answers (Question to Public)

The Pension-Related Deduction (PRD) was provided for in law under the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Act 2009, as amended (the “Act”). PRD was operational from 1 March 2009 to 31 December 2018. It was replaced by the Additional Superannuation Contribution (ASC) with effect from 1 January 2019. PRD was a deduction from the salary of Public Servants who -

1. are members of a Public Service pension scheme,

2. have an entitlement to a Public Service pension benefit, preserved or in payment, or

3. who receive/have received a payment-in-lieu of such a pension.

PRD confers no additional pension benefit and is not linked to the pension contribution an individual is required to make.

PRD was chargeable on all taxable remuneration as defined in the Act as follows:

“remuneration” means emoluments to which Chapter 4 of Part 42 of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997 applies or is applied and payable by or on behalf of a public service body to a public servant for his or her services as a public servant;

As overtime is deemed to be taxable remuneration it was subject to PRD. There is no provision in the legislation to exempt overtime from PRD. Furthermore, there is no proposal to retrospectively provide for such an exemption.

It should be noted that the ASC, which replaces PRD, is charged only on pensionable remuneration and therefore is not chargeable on non-pensionable overtime.

Flood Relief Schemes Data

Questions (120, 121)

Barry Cowen

Question:

120. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the projects in the proposed flood risk management plans for County Cavan; the details of the projects by cost breakdown, funding allocated and the commencement date for construction; the completion date of each project in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14296/19]

View answer

Barry Cowen

Question:

121. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the projects in the proposed flood risk management plans for County Carlow; the details of the projects by cost breakdown of each project, the funding allocated and the commencement date for construction; the completion date of each project in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14297/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Public)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 120 and 121 together.

The information requested is being compiled and will be addressed directly to the Deputy in due course.

Flood Relief Schemes

Questions (122)

Kevin O'Keeffe

Question:

122. Deputy Kevin O'Keeffe asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if details sought regarding a project (details supplied) carried out some time ago have been received. [14463/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Public)

I can confirm that the works which the Office of Public Works (OPW) carried out in constructing the Fermoy flood relief scheme did not interfere with the weir in Fermoy in any way and did not undermine the structure of the weir, or result in any damage to property. The OPW does not have any responsibility for the weir.

The Fermoy North and South flood relief schemes involved very little interference with the Blackwater River as the embankments and walls are largely set back from the river. There were no works required or undertaken on Fermoy weir as part of either the North or South flood relief schemes for the town.

The deterioration of the weir in recent years has had nothing to do with the flood relief schemes. The in-river works as part of the flood relief scheme maintained a clearance between the works area and the weir, thus avoiding scheme works impacting on the weir. I understand that it was previously confirmed that damage to the weir in 2016 at O’Neill Crowley Quay arose from trees being washed downstream.

I understand that the weir was built to service the mill building in the town and therefore it would have been owned and kept by the original mill owner. I understand that it was previously owned by the Town Council of Fermoy, and since the dissolution of the Town Council, it is owned by Cork County Council. The responsibility for the maintenance of the weir in Fermoy therefore lies with that Local Authority.

Action Plan on Bullying

Questions (123)

Niall Collins

Question:

123. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will review correspondence (details supplied); his views regarding same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14413/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

The correspondence received addresses a very important topic, that of bullying and student wellbeing in schools. I can assure the Deputy that supporting student wellbeing is a priority for my Department and for schools.

In Early Years’ Settings, children are supported in their personal and social development through Aistear: the Early Childhood Curriculum Framework. Within Aistear, the theme of Well-being aims to develop children as confident, happy and healthy young people. Within Goal 1 of this theme, children are encouraged to make strong attachments and develop warm and supportive relationships with peers, be aware of and name their own feelings, and understand that others may have different feelings, be confident and self-reliant, respect themselves, others and the environment, and make decisions and choices about their own learning and development. In addition, under the theme of Identity and Belonging, children will learn to express their views and help make decisions in matters that affect them, understand the rules and the boundaries of acceptable behaviour, interact, work co-operatively, and help others, be aware of and respect others’ needs, rights and feelings, have a sense of social justice and recognise and deal with unfair behaviour, and demonstrate the skills of co-operation, responsibility, negotiation, and conflict resolution.

At primary level, all teachers at primary level are fully trained in the implementation of the Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE) curriculum which is taught at all class levels. The curriculum provides particular opportunities to foster the personal development, wellbeing, and social and emotional health of the individual child. SPHE promotes intrapersonal development by helping children to recognise, understand and accept themselves as unique individuals who feel valued and loved. It provides particular opportunities to nurture self-worth and self-confidence, helping the child to set and assess his/her own goals and to be able to manage his/her own behaviour. SPHE enables the child to build a sense of self-efficacy which in turn can increase his/her sense of personal control, promote self-awareness and enable self-directed learning.

At Post-Primary level, the Framework for Junior Cycle 2015 is underpinned by eight key principles that inform the planning, development and implementation of junior cycle programmes in all schools. One of the principles is Wellbeing. Wellbeing permeates a student's entire junior cycle experience and is reflected in a number of the 'Statements of Learning' in the Framework. These provide learning opportunities that enhance the physical, mental, emotional and social wellbeing of students and enable students to build life skills and develop a strong sense of connectedness to the school and to their community.

In addition to these curricular areas, learners are supported by a number of policy and practice initiatives that emphasise the reduction of bullying and the promotion of positive mental health.

The Action Plan on Bullying, published in January 2013, sets out my Department's approach to tackling bullying and promoting an anti-bullying culture in schools. It recommended 12 actions that focus on support for schools, teacher training, research and awareness raising and aim to ensure that all forms of bullying are addressed. A number of these actions have been implemented in full while others by their nature involve continuous action and are the subject of ongoing implementation.

Arising from the Action Plan on Bullying, National Anti-Bullying Procedures for Primary and Post Primary schools, were published in September 2013 and are currently being implemented by all 4,000 primary and post primary schools in the country.

The procedures are designed to give direction and guidance to school authorities and school personnel in preventing and tackling school-based bullying amongst their pupils. The procedures require that the prevention of bullying must be an integral part of a school’s anti-bullying policy.

All Boards of Management are required to adopt and implement an anti-bullying policy that fully complies with the requirements of the procedures. The procedures include specific requirements in relation to the use of prevention and education strategies and the consistent investigation, follow up and recording of bullying behaviour. The strategies that schools implement must be documented in the anti-bullying policy and must explicitly deal with the issue of identity-based bullying. Schools’ actions to create a positive school culture and to prevent and tackle bullying are included in the whole school evaluation process carried out by the Department’s Inspectorate.

Other actions included in the Action Plan on Bullying include support for anti-bullying awareness raising initiatives and the development and roll out of anti-bullying training materials for parents, teachers and Boards of Management. The Department funds anti-bullying training for parents via the National Parent’s Council. The training sessions, which are available nationwide, provide supports to parents to enable them to assist their children when issues of bullying arise. They also inform parents about the Anti-Bullying Procedures for primary and post primary schools.

Also under implementation of the Action Plan, the national anti-bullying website, www.tacklebullying.ie was launched in 2013. Funded by the Department, the website provides information, support and advice for students, teachers and parents on how to recognise and deal with bullying behaviour and allows teenagers to share experiences with their peers

In July 2018, the DES published the Wellbeing Policy Statement and Framework for Practice, which sets out indicators of success in wellbeing promotion in our education system. It requires every school and centre for education to use the School Self-Evaluation (SSE) process to initiate a wellbeing promotion review and development cycle by 2023.

Schools Building Projects Status

Questions (124)

John Curran

Question:

124. Deputy John Curran asked the Minister for Education and Skills the progress being made in providing a new school building for a school (details supplied); the timeline for this project; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14291/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

As the Deputy is aware, a building project for the school to which he refers is included in my Department's 6 Year Construction Programme.

My Department is currently liaising with the patron of the school in relation to the delivery of the building project and is awaiting further contact from the patron in this regard.