Rent Supplement Scheme Payments

Questions (204)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

204. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the correct level of rent support payable in the case of a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [14647/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

The person concerned is in receipt of the correct Rent Supplement payable, i.e. the rate applicable for a single person resident in the Kilcock area of County Kildare.

The Rent Supplement claim is currently being reviewed and the Community Welfare Officer has requested supporting documentation from the person concerned in order to maintain the correct Rent Supplement payable.

I trust this clarifies matters for the Deputy.

Disability Allowance Payments

Questions (205)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

205. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if appropriate child dependant allowance is being paid in the case of a disability allowance for a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [14649/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

The person concerned has had her Increase for Qualified Child Allowance (IQC) re-instated with effect from 28 November 2018. The first payment will be made by her preferred payment method on 3 April 2019.

Arrears of payment due has issued to the person concerned.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy

Exceptional Needs Payment Applications

Questions (206)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

206. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if an exceptional needs payment will be considered in the case of a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [14650/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

The Community Welfare Officer (CWO) advises that as no application for an exceptional needs payment (ENP) has been received from the person concerned.

An application form has issued to the person concerned this week (25th March 2019).

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Social Welfare Overpayments

Questions (207)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

207. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the way in which it transpired that a person (details supplied) is having an alleged overpayment recovered at the rate of €50 per week and-or month and is also being pursued through the courts notwithstanding those payments; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [14652/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

The person concerned was in receipt of a One Parent Family (OPF) payment from 4/11/2010 until 7/6/2017.

Following an investigation into undeclared means relating to employment her OPF claim was discontinued in accordance with Departmental procedures and an overpayment of €20,664 was raised for the period 2/7/2015 to 26/4/2017. A notification letter of the overpayment incurred issued to the person concerned, dated 6/9/2017. The person concerned was offered the opportunity to provide further documentary evidence that might be relevant to the case. She was also offered the opportunity to appeal the revised decision to the Social Welfare Appeals Office.

The person concerned is making repayments towards recovery of this overpayment in the amount of €50 per month. It is normal practice for the Department to take legal action where it is deemed that an offence has occurred. The fact that a person is making repayments towards a debt incurred as a result of an offence does not impact on this legal action going ahead.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Disability Allowance Eligibility

Questions (208)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

208. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the total entitlement in respect of disability allowance in the case of a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [14655/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

Following an appeal, the second named person has been awarded disability allowance (DA) with effect from 18 July 2018. An increase for qualified adult (IQA) has been awarded in respect of the first named person. The first payment will be made by his chosen payment method on 17 April 2019.

Arrears of payment due will issue as soon as possible once any necessary adjustment is calculated and applied in respect of any overlapping payments.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

State Pensions

Questions (209)

Clare Daly

Question:

209. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection when the promised pension home care credit will be introduced and full pension entitlements restored. [14722/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

Since late September 2018, my Department has been examining the social insurance records of approximately 90,000 pensioners, born on or after 1 September 1946, who have a reduced rate State pension contributory entitlement based on post Budget 2012 rate-bands. These payments are being reviewed under a new Total Contributions Approach (TCA) to pension calculation which includes provision for homecaring periods.

Wherever possible reviews will be processed using information already held by my Department. In some cases additional information is being requested to ensure people receives the best rate possible. Approximately 25,000 requests for information have issued to date. It is important that prompt responses are received to those requests so that the reviews can be completed as quickly as possible.

Reviews commenced from 13 February 2019, the day after I signed the necessary regulations which together with provisions in the Social Welfare, Pensions and Civil Registrations Act 2018, allows the increased payments to be made. The most recently available figures show that as at week ending 22 March 2019, 8,367 reviews have been completed.

It will take a number of months to complete all the reviews due to the number involved and the individual nature of social insurance records. Over 100 temporary staff have been recruited to help with this work. Outcomes will issue to all pensioners in writing when their review is complete.

Regardless of when a review is conducted, where an increase in payment is due, the person's rate of payment will be adjusted without delay and arrears issued backdated to 30 March 2018, or the pensioner’s 66th birthday if later. Where a person's rate does not increase following a review, the person will continue to receive their existing rate of payment.

Given the scale (90,000 pensioners) involved, the fact that each case requires close individual examination and that some cases are more complex than others, it would not be reasonable to expect all to be processed immediately. While this work will take a number of months to complete, it will continue until all pensioners have been notified of the outcome of their review in writing.

Where possible, reviews will be processed based on information already held by the Department. For the majority of pensioners the next letter they receive from the Department (after the first letter) will be a review outcome letter. Where additional information is required to complete the review, a written request is being sent to the pensioner directly. Almost 24,000 requests for information issued in January and another 11,000 will be issuing to customers in the coming weeks. I would urge anyone who has yet to provide additional requested information to the Department to do so as soon as possible so that their review can be processed.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Water and Sewerage Schemes Funding

Questions (210)

Pearse Doherty

Question:

210. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government when a decision will be made on a funding application for a group water scheme (details supplied) in County Donegal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14551/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

Details of the measures being funded under the Multi-annual Rural Water Programme 2019-2021 were notified to local authorities by my Department on 8 February 2019. Local authorities were invited to submit their bids for the funding of schemes or projects in their functional areas, with the deadline for receipt of proposals set as 14 March 2019.

Donegal County Council has included the scheme in question in its application to my Department under the new Programme.

My Department is currently considering local authorities' bids for funding allocations. An Expert Panel has been put in place to support the evaluation process. In addition to providing an expert perspective, the Panel brings independence, openness and transparency to the bids evaluation process which is done on a national prioritised basis. The Expert Panel’s membership includes Departmental, stakeholder and independent representation.

The Expert Panel will make recommendations to my Department on the suitability of schemes and projects for funding based on objective criteria which are set out in the framework document issued to local authorities when requesting proposals. My Department will then consider the recommendations of the Panel, and based on these, will propose allocations for my consideration as Minister. I expect this process to be completed in the second quarter of 2019.

Housing Assistance Payment Data

Questions (211)

Eoin Ó Broin

Question:

211. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of households that had HAP payments ceased due to arrears; the average length of time the households were in arrears before payment was ceased; the average rent owed by households at the time rent was ceased in each of the years since the scheme was introduced; the steps taken by local authorities to address the arrears issue while maintaining the tenancy; and the guidance provided to both a centre (details supplied) and the local authorities to deal with such arrears while at the same time sustaining the tenant. [14556/19]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

Tenants in the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) scheme are required to sign a rent contribution agreement to pay a weekly rental contribution to the relevant local authority, in line with the local authority’s differential rent scheme. As set out in the rent contribution agreement, this weekly rental contribution must be paid by them so that they remain eligible for the HAP scheme. HAP recipients are required to set up automatic electronic rent payment arrangements.

The rent contribution agreement stipulates that "the HAP claimant acknowledges that the Local Authority will immediately suspend or cease making the Housing Assistance Payment to the landlord on behalf of the HAP Claimant in respect of the tenancy at the Property. Upon the Local Authority ceasing to make the Housing Assistance Payment the HAP Claimant shall immediately become liable for all and any rent payable to the landlord." In practice, however, suspension would not normally take immediate effect and engagement with the tenant is initiated.

The HAP Shared Services Centre (SSC) manages the collection of all HAP tenants’ differential rents, on behalf of the relevant local authority, and the payment of all HAP rents to landlords on behalf of tenants supported by the HAP scheme. The HAP SSC applies a very clear communication policy if rental arrears issues arise. This policy includes regular and early written communication with tenants, landlords and the relevant local authority.

Apart from issuing the formal notification letters, there would always be attempts to contact the tenants by phone and by email to settle accounts and avoid escalation of the debt process. Depending on the particular arrears in question, both the relevant local authority and the landlord are informed when an account has not been cleared and of possible suspension and/ or cessation of the HAP payment. However, in the vast majority of cases a payment plan to deal with the arrears is agreed between the tenant and the local authority, before there is any necessity to advise the landlord.

If the tenant does not contact their local authority or does not enter into a payment arrangement within 8 weeks of the arrears commencing, both the landlord and the tenant are informed that the HAP payment may be ceased.

My Department is satisfied that the practice of the SSC is appropriate, measured and effective and that local authorities, as housing authorities, have the expertise and resources to discharge their responsibilities towards social housing households including consideration of changed financial positions for households in HAP. There is no requirement for guidance from my Department to be issued regarding implementation of the debt collection process which is a matter for Local Authorities and the SSC operating on their behalf.

In relation to the average time in, and amount of, arrears outstanding at the time of cessation, the SSC advise that this information is not readily available from their system as they operate from a live system. They have not historically extracted specific information at the exact point at which the tenancy is ceased and what the balance is at that point in time. Information is only recorded on the current balance which will more than likely have changed since the tenancy was ceased if a write off of the amount outstanding had been approved or if the tenant began to pay off the arrears.

To date, the approach taken by the HAP SSC has been very effective with minimal levels of rent arrears arising for HAP tenants. In 2018, the scheme had a 98% differential rent collection rate, with minimal arrears arising for tenants or local authorities. Therefore, only a very small number of tenants have fallen into difficulty with their differential rent. Since HAP was rolled out in 2014 to end 2018, HAP support has been ceased for 665 tenancies due to tenant differential rent arrears. This represents 1.2% of all tenancies set up during that period.

Tenancy sustainment is a very important factor in relation to keeping households in their homes. This is why the SSC operate, on behalf of the 31 local authorities, a graduated approach to cessation rather than the immediate cessation outlined in the rent contribution agreement. There are a number of avenues for a tenant experiencing financial difficulty including early engagement with the relevant local authority or the Community Welfare Officer. Notwithstanding the assistance available to tenants, there is a fundamental need for a tenant to acknowledge and make the maximum effort to fulfil their personal responsibilities and requirements in relation to contributing to their accommodation costs and to engage early when difficulties arise. The rent contribution that a household is asked to pay is calculated by the local authority having regard to the financial circumstances of the household and affordability. The HAP scheme is funded through a combination of the contributions from households and exchequer funding, so it is absolutely critical that additional unnecessary burden is not placed on the exchequer to offset non-payment of differential rent.

As the HAP scheme grows, the SSC are continuously working to improve systems and processes, including debt management processes. My Department, with the assistance of stakeholders, including the Housing Agency, HAP Practitioners from local authorities and also the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, will continue to work with the SSC to ensure that the debt management process is reasonable and effective and that the appropriate tenancy sustainment options are in place.

Local Authority Housing Rents

Questions (212)

Clare Daly

Question:

212. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if it is standard practice for local councils to postpone rent reviews for a decade or more, leading to large increases in rent in cases in which the postponed review does take place as in the case of County Longford; his views on whether this is best practice; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14586/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

The making and amending of rent schemes is the responsibility of housing authorities as an integral part of their housing management functions, subject to guidelines issued from time to time by my Department.

Rent reviews are also a matter for individual housing authorities. Guidelines entitled “Rent Assessment, Collection, Accounting and Arrears Control” were published by the Housing Unit (which subsequently became part of the Housing Agency) in January 2001. These guidelines, developed in conjunction with my Department and the City and County Management Association, set out good practice in the administration of rent related matters. The Guidelines stated that local authorities should review the rent assessment of all existing tenants at least annually to ensure that all tenants are paying the correct rent and to update rents to reflect changes in tenants’ incomes and in housing management costs.

It will normally be a part of the tenancy agreement that the tenant should inform the local authority of any change in circumstances, including increases in family income. When this is done by the tenant, any change in rent that is warranted can be applied promptly.

The above Guidelines also state that arrangements for the repayment of rent arrears should be determined primarily by the tenants’ ability to pay.

My Department has undertaken a review of the potential for a draft national differential rents framework for the purposes of section 31 of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009. Such a framework has as its main aim the harmonisation of local authority rents, including a set of standardised income disregards, whilst retaining the general principle of rents related to household income. The overall objective is to ensure that housing supports are fair and sustainable and prioritise those on lowest incomes.

I expect that the review will be completed in the near future.

Fire Safety

Questions (213)

Jim O'Callaghan

Question:

213. Deputy Jim O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if a fund will be set up to assist owners of apartments to deal with serious fire safety issues and building defects; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that problems have emerged in respect of a number of apartment schemes on the south fringe of the Dublin City Council administrative area; the measures that have been taken to improve the building regulations in respect apartment developments; if action can be taken at this stage to hold developers accountable for defective complexes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14596/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

In the first instance, I would like to acknowledge the stressful circumstances which the owners and residents of buildings face when defects occur in their homes.

However, in general, building defects are matters for resolution between the contracting parties involved: the homeowner, the builder, the developer and/or their respective insurers, structural guarantee or warranty scheme. It is important to note that while my Department has overall responsibility for establishing and maintaining an effective regulatory framework for building standards and building control, it has no general statutory role in resolving defects in privately owned buildings, including dwellings, nor does it have a budget for such matters.

Local authorities have extensive powers of inspection and enforcement under the Fire Services Acts 1981 and 2003, the Housing Acts and the Planning and Development Acts, all of which may be relevant where fire safety concerns arise in residential developments. Fire services may inspect buildings in cases of defects or complaints in respect of fire safety. They work with building owners to ensure immediate risks are addressed, and a plan put in place for works to bring buildings into compliance. They have enforcement powers for cases where co-operation is not forthcoming, or progress cannot be made on an agreed basis. Local authorities are independent in the use of their statutory powers.

In the interest of supporting owners and residents living in developments where concerns regarding non-compliance with fire safety requirements arise, it was agreed that a review be undertaken by an independent fire expert to develop a framework for general application. In August 2017, the Framework for Enhancing Fire Safety in Dwellings was published, which is intended to be used as a guide by the owners and occupants of dwellings where fire safety deficiencies have been identified, or are a cause for concern. The Framework will also be of assistance to professional advisors, both in developing strategies to improve fire safety and in developing strategies to enable continued occupation in advance of undertaking the necessary works to ensure compliance with the relevant Building Regulations. The Framework is available on my Department's website at the following link: https://www.housing.gov.ie/sites/default/files/publications/files/framework_for_enhancing_fire_safety_in_dwellings.pdf.

In the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower tragedy in June 2017, and in recognition of fears expressed for fire safety, my Department's National Directorate for Fire and Emergency Management was asked to convene a Task Force to lead a re-appraisal of our approach to fire safety in Ireland. In its report, the Task Force acknowledges the importance of fire safety in apartment buildings and makes a number of recommendations in this regard and I have tasked the Directorate's Management Board with implementation of the recommendations within its remit, and oversight of the implementation of other recommendations. The Task Force Report is available on my Department's website at the following link: https://www.housing.gov.ie/sites/default/files/publications/files/fire_safety_in_ireland_-_report_of_the_fire_safety_task_force.pdf.

In addition, in relation to the Building Regulations, work has been on-going to review Part B – Fire Safety and a new Part B/ TGD B Volume 2 (2017) came into force on 1 July 2017. This Volume 2 applies to dwellings only. A revised Volume 1, dealing with buildings other than dwellings, which includes apartments, is being prepared for public consultation.

Finally, in response to the building failures that have emerged over the last decade, my Department has advanced a robust and focused Building Control Reform Agenda, including:

- Amendments to the Building Control Regulations;

- Establishment of a shared services National Building Control Management Project; and

- The ongoing development of new legislation through the Building Control (Construction Industry Register Ireland) Bill.

These reforms have already brought, and will continue to bring, a new order and discipline to bear on construction projects, creating an enhanced culture of compliance with the Building Regulations.

Social and Affordable Housing Funding

Questions (214)

Eoin Ó Broin

Question:

214. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if an application will be considered for funding from South Dublin County Council to purchase land (details supplied) in order to increase the volume of social and affordable housing in the SDZ. [14625/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

Once local authorities have identified a need to acquire additional lands, they may seek to borrow the required finance from the Housing Finance Agency. In accordance with Section 106 of the Local Government Act 2001, as amended, the decision to borrow is a reserved function of the elected members of the local authority concerned, who have direct responsibility in law for all reserved functions and are accountable for all expenditure by the local authority. As such, it is a matter for each local authority to determine its own spending priorities in the context of the annual budgetary process, having regard to both locally identified needs and available resources.

Section 106 of the said Act also provides that local authorities must obtain the consent of the appropriate Minister to undertake borrowing. In this regard, a request to borrow for housing land acquisition can be submitted by the local authority to my Department. Sanction may be granted based on an assessment of the financial viability of potential loans insofar as individual local authorities are concerned, and an assessment as to whether the borrowing can be accommodated within the context of the fiscal rules.

It should be noted that there is currently an appeal to An Bord Pleanála in relation to the Clonburris Strategic Development Zone. Following an oral hearing, a decision is not expected until the middle of 2019. Accordingly, I am not in a position to comment further on the matter at this time.

Local Area Plans

Questions (215)

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

215. Deputy Jan O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if Meath and Louth county councils have adopted a local area plan for the area of interest that was the subject of the Drogheda boundary commission report published in 2017; if an implementation group has been formed by both councils to implement the proposals from the review; if he is satisfied with progress to date on developing a unified vision for the area that was subject of the review; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14631/19]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

The report of the Drogheda Boundary Committee was published in February 2017 and it recommended no change to the existing boundary, subject to the implementation of a programme of structured cooperation between Louth and Meath County Councils. Similar reports were produced at that time on Athlone, Carlow and Waterford.

Given the strategic importance of such towns and cities where development and population overspill across county boundaries has occurred, it is my intention to introduce statutory joint structures to address boundary issues. This would entail a framework of statutory requirements to deal with the development and other interests of the areas concerned, rather than alteration of county boundaries or reliance solely on existing inter-authority co-operation. This would mainly involve functions similar to those which might be performed through inter-authority arrangements but on a more comprehensive, permanent and formalised basis under primary legislation.

It is envisaged that such urban area structures would have responsibility for certain key strategic matters beyond the existing standard functions of local authorities, especially in relation to spatial and economic planning and development and in relation to transportation strategy, forward planning and land use designation, retail strategy, and other such matters as the relevant local authorities agree.

A specific local area plan has not been adopted for the cross-boundary area of Drogheda and, while an implementation group specifically targeting the Boundary Committee report is not established, there is strong ongoing cooperation between Louth and Meath County Councils. I have very recently met with the respective chief executives, and with chief executives from other local authorities with cross-boundary towns and cities, and I plan to make further progress on strengthened urban area structures for cross-boundary towns and cities in the coming months.

Departmental Staff Data

Questions (216)

Darragh O'Brien

Question:

216. Deputy Darragh O'Brien asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of staff engaged in the housing delivery office per annum since its establishment; the average length of service in the office; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14668/19]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

In line with the commitment under Action 2.9 of Rebuilding Ireland: Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness, a dedicated Housing Delivery Office (HDO) was established within my Department, in August 2016, to support the accelerated delivery of housing across the social and private sectors, and tenure spectrum, in an integrated and timely manner. Working with the broader Housing and Planning Divisions in my Department, other key agencies, local authorities and the construction sector, the HDO supports the roll-out of complex projects, including identifying and resolving barriers to delivery, and monitors progress across key sites as they progress.

At the time of its establishment, the HDO comprised a team of 4 people with extensive expertise in project management, finance, planning and local government, including staff seconded from the local government sector and the National Development Finance Agency.

Having carried out a range of initial initiatives, and taking account of the fact that some assignments to the office were time-limited, the HDO was refocused in September 2017 to work more closely on supporting local housing delivery and land management. In that context, the current team of 3 comprises 1 civil servant and 2 officers with experience of housing delivery and the local government sector. These officers have service ranging from 9 to 28 months in the HDO. In addition to this complement of staff the HDO draws on supports from other relevant Business Units in my Department and other relevant public bodies and this can give rise to movements of staff resources between these connected areas from time to time.

As with all critical areas of activity in my Department, the resources available to the HDO are kept under regular review in the context of the ongoing evolution of the Office’s role.

Social and Affordable Housing

Questions (217)

Darragh O'Brien

Question:

217. Deputy Darragh O'Brien asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if the cost rental pilot project has gone out to tender; when construction is due to commence; the number of units due to be completed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14669/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

Acknowledging that renters in Dublin and other major urban centres are currently facing significant access and affordability challenges, the Government is committed to the introduction of a not-for-profit, cost rental sector in Ireland. Together with delivering more affordable and predictable rents, cost rental can make a sustainable impact on national competitiveness and the attractiveness of our main urban centres as places to live and work.

To support the introduction of affordable housing, including cost rental, the Government has made €310m available to local authorities to fund facilitating infrastructure, under the Serviced Sites Fund, over the next three years.

Two path-finder cost rental projects are currently being progressed. Firstly, the Housing Agency, Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council and two Approved Housing Bodies (Respond and Túath) are working on a project at the Enniskerry Road, Dublin, which will deliver 50 cost rental homes. This project is providing very valuable learning and is helping to shape the contractual model and specifications for future larger-scale projects. Planning permission is currently in place and tenders have been assessed. An application submitted by Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council for funding under the Serviced Sites Fund last year in relation to the project was successful. It is anticipated that construction will commence on this project in the second quarter of 2019.

The second project, St. Michael’s Estate, Emmet Road in Inchicore, is estimated to have the potential to accommodate circa. 470 homes in a high quality development. The current tenure mix as agreed with by my Department is 30% Social and 70% Cost Rental. It is expected that the procurement process for the design team will get underway in Q2 2019.

It is estimated by the National Development Finance Agency that rents of between 15-25% below market are achievable. The new apartment guidelines were applied to all units. The European Investment Bank is also working on this project in terms of financial and advisory services.

Departmental Projects

Questions (218)

Darragh O'Brien

Question:

218. Deputy Darragh O'Brien asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the average length of time taken to process a cost-benefit analysis in 2017 and 2018; the number of such analyses received; the number accepted and rejected, respectively in 2017 and 2018; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14670/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

Under the Public Spending Code, where a capital project exceeds €20m, the Sponsoring Agency (the local authority) is required to submit a Cost Benefit Analysis (CBA) or a Cost Effectiveness Analysis (CEA) prior to receiving Departmental Approval in Principle. The purpose of a CBA is to assess whether or not the social and economic benefits associated with a project are greater than its social and economic costs. The CBA compares the costs of alternative ways in which an objective, or set of objectives, can be achieved, to determine the optimum path for the project.

My Department received CBAs/CEAs in relation to eleven housing projects over the period 2017/2018, of which just one was submitted in 2017. Of these eleven CBAs/CEAs, two have been approved over an average timeframe of ten weeks. Engagement is ongoing on the examination of the remaining CBAs between my Department, the relevant local authority and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (DPER).

Simultaneously, my Department is currently preparing detailed sectoral guidance to support local authorities on the appraisal process for social housing projects. My Department is also actively working with Dublin City Council to progress what could be used as a blueprint CBA/CEA. This guidance and blueprint CBA/CEA will support all local authorities in carrying out such appraisals on housing projects through a standardised approach in order to streamline the review process undertaken by my Department and DPER. It will ensure that all of the available options are fully appraised and evaluated with the best approach being followed from a value for money, housing and sustainable communities viewpoint.

Rural Resettlement Scheme

Questions (219)

Darragh O'Brien

Question:

219. Deputy Darragh O'Brien asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government his plans to fund a rural resettlement scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14673/19]

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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 and actions 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 already possible for households to move and relocate between local authority areas, including relocating from an urban to a rural location, under the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) Scheme.

Under the Social Housing Assessment Regulations 2011, a household may apply to one housing authority only for social housing support, at a time. Currently it is not possible for a household on the waiting list of one housing authority to transfer its application to another authority and to carry the time spent on the previous list.

A commitment has been given to examine the possibility of introducing a “housing passport”. The basic premise is that households in receipt of, or qualified for, social housing support in one local authority area could potentially transfer to, or be allocated, social housing in another local authority area. My Department is currently developing proposals in relation to this matter, details of which will be outlined when the work involved is complete.

National Parks and Wildlife Service

Questions (220)

Seán Fleming

Question:

220. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht further to Parliamentary Questions Nos. 623 of 24 April 2018 and 1448 of 7 September 2018, the status of discussions on a location (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [14589/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Culture)

The National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) of my Department is continuing its discussions with the various interests with a mast presence in the area in question. The aim of these discussions is to address the issue of payment and enhancing the overall care and management of the site. As outlined in the previous response, these discussions are significantly advanced and nearly concluded. As the discussions have not yet reached their formal conclusion ,it would be inappropriate to provide further details publicly at this time. The NPWS intend to conclude the matter shortly and I will be in touch with the Deputy at that point.

In the meantime, I want to thank the Deputy for his continuing interest in the matter.

Hare Coursing Regulation

Questions (221)

Clare Daly

Question:

221. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the reason her Department is providing a club (details supplied) with copies of the conservation rangers' reports prior to their publication. [14603/19]

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Written answers (Question to Culture)

National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) officials of my Department monitor compliance with the licences issued to the organisation concerned relating to its affiliated clubs which hold regulated hare coursing events during the period of the licences. For a number of years, prior to the publication of these monitoring reports on the NPWS website, it had been the practice of my Department to provide the organisation in question with copies of these reports for its attention and for any follow up actions required by it; in some cases there may have been issues highlighted in reports which required clarification for my Department and which necessitated further correspondence with the organisation in question.

Turf Cutting Compensation Scheme Payments

Questions (222)

Willie Penrose

Question:

222. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if payment will issue to a person (details supplied) who made an application for compensation under the cessation of turf cutting scheme in 2017; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [14629/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Culture)

An application for compensation under the cessation of turf cutting compensation scheme has been received by my Department from the individual referred to in the Deputy’s Question. With respect to 36 raised bog natural heritage area sites, the qualifying criteria for the scheme are that:

- The applicant must have had a legal interest (ownership or a turbary right (right to cut turf)) in one of these sites on 25 May 2010 and must have had the right to cut and remove turf from the property on that date;

- The applicant must have been cutting turf on the land in question during the relevant five year period up to 14 January 2014;

- The turf resource on the site has not been exhausted; and

- No turf cutting or associated activity is ongoing on the property.

I am advised that an inspection of the plot of bog in respect of which the applicant has applied for compensation is scheduled to be undertaken shortly. My Department will be in a position to further process the application when this inspection has been completed.

Contact has been made with the applicant to advise her of the position.