Social Welfare Benefits Eligibility

Questions (599)

Eamon Scanlon

Question:

599. Deputy Eamon Scanlon asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the way in which fibromyalgia is assessed for the purpose of approving or refusing social welfare benefits; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16507/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

The assessment of eligibility for medical related schemes such as Fibromyalgia includes medical history, the review of supporting medical evidence and in certain schemes an in-person assessment by Medical Assessors of the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, depending on the benefit scheme applied for. After the assessment, the Medical Assessor will express his/her opinion on the case.

In all cases a deciding officer of my Department makes a decision in line with the provisions specified in the relevant social welfare legislation including supporting medical evidence supplied by the applicant and taking into account the opinion of the Department’s Medical Assessor.

Carer's Allowance Payments

Question No. 601 answered with Question No. 593.

Questions (600)

Martin Heydon

Question:

600. Deputy Martin Heydon asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if a means review of a carer's allowance payment will be expedited for a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16534/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

Carer's allowance (CA) is a means-tested social assistance payment made to a person who is habitually resident in the State and who is providing full-time care and attention to a child or an adult who has such a disability that as a result they require that level of care.

If a person is in receipt of another social welfare payment in their own right (other than unemployment payments or supplementary welfare allowance) or being claimed as a qualified adult on their spouse/partner's payment, a half-rate carer's allowance can be paid too as long as all the normal conditions for receipt of CA are satisfied.

The person concerned was in receipt of Jobseekers Allowance as a qualified adult on her spouses claim up to 11 August 2018. As a result CA was paid to her at half-rate. 

As a result of the cessation of her Jobseekers Allowance as a qualified adult, it has been decided that the person concerned is entitled to full rate CA from 16 August 2018.

Arrears of allowance due from 16 August 2018 to 10 April 2019 will issue to her nominated bank account on 11 August 2019.

The person concerned was notified on 4 April 2019 of this outcome and of her right of review and appeal.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Question No. 601 answered with Question No. 593.

Illness Benefit Eligibility

Questions (602)

Seán Haughey

Question:

602. Deputy Seán Haughey asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection her plans to ensure that all outstanding payments are made to a person (details supplied) in respect of their disability allowance and invalidity pension claims; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16612/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

The Department has no record of either a Disability Allowance or Invalidity Pension claim from the person concerned. However, the person concerned does have a recent Illness Benefit claim.

Illness Benefit is paid for a maximum of 2 years or 624 payable days. The person concerned received 2 years of Illness Benefit payment and her entitlement to payment on this scheme exhausted on the 22nd February 2019.

To requalify for Illness Benefit, she will need to have paid a further 13 reckonable PRSI contributions after the 22nd February 2019.

The person concerned can continue to send in medical certificates for the period she is incapable of work in order to receive credited contributions.  

It is open to the person concerned to make an application for Disability Allowance or Invalidity Pension if she expects to be incapable of work for at least the next 12 months.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Carer's Allowance Appeals

Questions (603)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

603. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of a carer's allowance application by a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16656/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was registered in that office on 25 February 2019.  It is a statutory requirement of the appeals process that the relevant Departmental papers and comments by the Deciding Officer on the grounds of appeal be sought.  When these papers have been received from the Department, the case in question will be referred to an Appeals Officer who will make a summary decision on the appeal based on the documentary evidence presented or, if required, hold an oral appeal hearing.

The Social Welfare Appeals Office functions independently of the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection and of the Department and is responsible for determining appeals against decisions in relation to social welfare entitlements.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Carer's Allowance Applications

Questions (604)

Robert Troy

Question:

604. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if an application for a carer's benefit will be expedited for a person (details supplied). [16657/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

Carer's benefit (CARB) is a PRSI based payment, made to persons who are providing full-time care and attention to a person who has such a disability that they require that level of care. 

An application for CARB was received from the person concerned on 27 February 2019. The application is currently being processed and once completed, the person concerned will be notified directly of the outcome.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Social Welfare Benefits Payments

Questions (605)

Willie Penrose

Question:

605. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the prime measure of inflation her Department uses to assess or examine the cost of living increases in respect of social welfare payments; the rates of inflation used by her Department over the past ten years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16660/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

The Consumer Price Index (CPI) is the official measure of inflation in Ireland. The Central Statistics Office (CSO) measures the overall change in the prices of goods and services that people typically buy over time. The goods and services that are included in the basket are determined from the Household Budget Survey. Another measure, the Harmonised Index of Consumer Prices, is used to compare between European Union countries.

The annual average percentage change in CPI over the last ten years, as published by the CSO is set out in the following table.

Year 

 Percentage Change

2009

-4.5

2010

-1.0

2011

 2.6

2012

 1.7

2013

 0.5

2014

 0.2

2015

-0.3

2016

  0.0 

2017

 0.4

2018

 0.5

My Department is currently considering options to implement the commitment for the State pension (contributory) by examining previous studies on benchmarking and indexation, international experience and examining a range of potential benchmarks and indices. 

In terms of the wider application of indexation of social welfare payments generally, Section 19 of the Social Welfare, Pensions and Civil Registration Act 2018 provides that I, as Minister, will arrange to “consult with stakeholders on examining ways in which social welfare rates are increased with the aim of ensuring adequacy for all recipients and shall do so in quarter 1 of 2019”.

In this context my Department met with numerous interested stakeholders during quarter 1 2019 to solicit views on how the adoption of a benchmark, and a system of indexation, might work for social welfare rates more generally.  The feedback from this consultation is currently being considered and will help to inform the development of the approach to benchmarking/indexation.

In addition, I expect that the issue will be considered at my Department's Pre-Budget Forum in July.  The Pre-Budget Forum includes representatives from the Community and Voluntary Sector, ICTU and IBEC among others.  I would also welcome views from all political parties who are interested in this area and submissions should be made to my office.  

Any change to the current process of setting social welfare rates of payment would require Government approval and would have to be considered in the overall policy and budgetary context.  This would include taking account of stakeholder views, as well as considerations of cost, work incentives, poverty alleviation, policy alignment and the administration of any proposed system.

Home Loan Scheme

Questions (606, 645)

Tom Neville

Question:

606. Deputy Tom Neville asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the status of the Rebuilding Ireland home loan scheme; if persons can still apply; and the criteria for same. [16209/19]

View answer

Bernard Durkan

Question:

645. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government when Rebuilding Ireland home loans will be upgraded in line with demand; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16699/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 606 and 645 together.

The Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan was launched on 1 February 2018 to replace the existing House Purchase and Home Choice Loan schemes, providing a new line of mortgage finance, including fixed rates over 25 to 30 years, to creditworthy first-time buyers who cannot access sufficient mortgage finance from commercial lender.  

The HFA borrowed €200 million to fund the scheme, and it was estimated that the drawdown would be approximately €200 million over three years.  Some criticism at the time was that insufficient loans were being approved and drawn down. However, as Minister I had made a commitment to seek further funding at an early stage, if necessary, given my belief in the scheme's potential.

The scheme has been more successful than anticipated, and by the end of January, €106m had been drawn down, accounting for 53% of the available funding, at a point at which €66m would have been more consistent with the expectation of a three year draw down period.  By the end of March, draw downs have reached €127m.

My officials kept me informed regarding progress on the loan on a regular basis, and have been engaging with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform since October 2018 when higher lending and drawdown volumes were beginning to materialise.

I informed the Dáil on 29 January 2019 of the scheme’s success and of the need for additional funding, and further indicated that my Department was in discussions with the Departments of Public Expenditure and Reform and Finance with regard to the allocation for 2019.   Local authorities could continue to accept applications as the total funding had not been drawn down.  A meeting with the Minister for Finance and Public Expenditure and Reform took place on 5 March 2019.

Ongoing discussions between the three Departments have included consultation with the Central Bank as recently as last Friday, 5th April.  When these discussions have concluded, I will be in a position to confirm the level of allocation for 2019.  In the meantime, the scheme remains open and all local authorities have been advised to continue to receive and process applications.

Property Registration Authority Administration

Questions (607)

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

607. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government when a land registry dealing with be completed for a person (details supplied) in County Donegal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16460/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

A service for Oireachtas Members was introduced in 2006 through which information can be obtained on the current status of applications to the Property Registration Authority (PRA), such as the case referred to with this question.  This provides a speedy, efficient and cost effective system through which the PRA can address such queries.  The Deputy's query has been forwarded to the PRA for attention and direct reply.  

By way of further information, arrangements have been put in place by all bodies under the aegis of my Department to facilitate the provision of information directly to members of the Oireachtas. In the case of the PRA, the relevant email address is reps@prai.ie.

Housing Adaptation Grant Funding

Questions (608, 609)

Carol Nolan

Question:

608. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the amount of funding allocated to local authorities for housing adaptation grants since 2016. [16531/19]

View answer

Carol Nolan

Question:

609. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if the amount of funding being allocated to housing adaptation grants through local authorities will be increased in budget 2020. [16532/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 608 and 609 together.

The funding provided for the Housing Adaptation Grants for Older People and People with a Disability Scheme to support people living in private houses, has increased year on year since 2014. From a funding level in 2013 of €43 million, I have made a total of €71.25 million available nationally in 2019 for the schemes, which is an increase of some 8% on the 2018 funding.

Information on these grant schemes, including the numbers of grants funded per annum and the funding provided to each local authority since 2016, is available on my Department’s website at the following link: http://www.housing.gov.ie/housing/statistics/social-and-affordble/other-local-authority-housing-scheme-statistics.  

Consistent with the Rebuilding Ireland Action Plan, I will give further consideration to increasing this funding over the coming year. I am conscious of the social benefit accruing from these grants in terms of helping older people and people with a disability to remain living independently in their own homes. My Department works closely with the local authorities to achieve a full drawdown of the available funding each year.  This allows any underspends to be redistributed to local authorities with high levels of grant activity who seek additional funding.

Rent Pressure Zones

Questions (610)

Darragh O'Brien

Question:

610. Deputy Darragh O'Brien asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government his plans to extend rent pressure zone designation periods beyond three years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16451/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

I refer to the reply to Question No. 70 on today's Order Paper.

Traveller Accommodation

Questions (611)

Mattie McGrath

Question:

611. Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government his plans to increase the funding provided under the Traveller accommodation programme; if his Department has a monitoring role with respect to the way in which funding is spent; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16678/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

In accordance with the Housing (Traveller Accommodation) Act 1998, local authorities have statutory responsibility for the assessment of the accommodation needs of Travellers and for the preparation, adoption and implementation of multi-annual Traveller Accommodation Programmes in their areas. 

Local  authorities submit funding proposals for Traveller-specific projects on an annual basis to my Department and the Department works very closely with local authorities in order to ensure maximum progress and drawdown of funding.  The capital budget allocation provided by my Department for Traveller accommodation since the adoption of the last Traveller Accommodation Programme in 2014 has increased from €3 million to €13 million in 2019, representing an increase of 330%.  

In line with the commitment in Rebuilding Ireland, and reflecting the disappointing level of overall funding drawdown, in 2017 the Housing Agency commissioned a review of funding for Traveller-specific accommodation.  Following its consideration of the review, the National Traveller Accommodation Consultative Committee recommended the establishment of an independent expert group to review the effectiveness, implementation and operation of legislation and to put forward proposals to improve delivery of Traveller accommodation nationally.  The expert group was established in September 2018 and I understand it will submit a report to me shortly.  

My  Department  will consider any recommendations made by the expert group to  improve the delivery of Traveller accommodation nationally and to ensure that full use is made of the increasing level of funding available for investment in Traveller accommodation.

Housing Assistance Payment Data

Questions (612)

Fiona O'Loughlin

Question:

612. Deputy Fiona O'Loughlin asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of houses in each town and village in County Kildare under categories (details supplied) in which the housing assistance payment, HAP, arrangements exist; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16091/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

At end of 2018, there were more than 43,000 households having their housing needs met via the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) scheme, of which 1,892 active HAP tenancies were setup by Kildare County Council.

A breakdown by town and village is not available. However, a breakdown of active HAP tenancies, by municipal area, is set out in the following table:

Municipal Area

Number of Active Tenancies

Kildare   - Newbridge

617

Athy

455

Naas

344

Maynooth

255

Celbridge - Leixlip

189

Other Locations

 32

Total

1,892

Under HAP, tenants source their own accommodation in the private rented market. The tenancy agreement is between the tenant and the landlord and is governed by the Residential Tenancies Act 2004 (as amended).

The HAP scheme relates to the private rental market only and does not apply to the other housing categories detailed. Further information on HAP and other social housing programmes are available on my Department's website at:

https://www.housing.gov.ie/housing/social-housing/social-and-affordble/overall-social-housing-provision.

Local Authority Housing Provision

Questions (613)

Fiona O'Loughlin

Question:

613. Deputy Fiona O'Loughlin asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government when his attention was drawn to the fact that Kildare County Council was planning to purchase a location (details supplied) as a turnkey project for 100% social housing; if the planned purchase meets all of the regulatory requirements of the social housing investment programme; his views on whether the provision of additional social housing in an area in which there is already a higher than average concentration complies with best practice guidelines under Quality Housing for Sustainable Communities 2007; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16092/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

The advancement of social housing delivery on a local basis is the responsibility of each individual local authority. My Department works with the local authorities in terms of setting and monitoring targets for social housing delivery and the funding approval for individual projects.  In the latter context, Kildare County Council identified the opportunity for delivery of newly constructed social homes through a turnkey project at the location in question and funding approval was issued by my Department in February.

In the context of their advancement of social housing delivery in Kildare, it is a matter for the County Council to assess the local housing need, identify best approaches and opportunities to meet this need and the appropriate level of social housing in any area.  Local authorities are guided by the 'Quality Housing for Sustainable Communities' publication, in terms of their housing responsibilities, but the knowledge and awareness of the local authority with regard to local circumstances and housing need, means they are best placed to judge the best approach to meeting that housing need within the context of developing sustainable communities.  I understand that Kildare County Council has satisfied itself in relation to these matters.  

Construction Industry

Questions (614)

Micheál Martin

Question:

614. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if he or his officials have met with the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation in relation to shortages in the construction area, particularly in housing; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16115/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

The State’s general policy is to promote the sourcing of labour and skills needs from within the workforce of Ireland, the European Union and other EEA states. Policy in relation to applications for employment permits remains focused on facilitating the recruitment from outside the EEA of highly skilled personnel, where the requisite skills cannot be met by normal recruitment or by training.

 Employment permit policy is part of the response to addressing skills deficits which exist and are likely to continue into the medium term, but it is not intended over the longer term to act as a substitute for meeting the challenge of up-skilling the State’s resident workforce, with an emphasis on the process of lifelong learning, and on maximising the potential of EEA nationals to fill our skills deficits.

Ireland operates a managed employment permit system through occupation lists, namely the Critical Skills and Ineligible Lists of Occupations, which are reviewed twice a year in a process led by the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation. This is an evidence-based process that takes account of labour market conditions and submissions from sectors and other stakeholders, together with contextual factors such as Brexit. The purpose of the system is to maximise the benefits of economic migration, while minimising the risk of disrupting the Irish labour market.

Following a comprehensive cross-departmental/agency review earlier this year, in which my Department was involved, the following changes, which address skills shortages in the construction area, were announced by my colleague, the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, on 3 April 2019:

Addition of certain occupations to the Critical Skills List of Occupations:

- Civil engineers

- Quantity surveyors

- Construction project managers

- Mechanical and electrical engineers with BIM capabilities

 Removal of certain occupations from the Ineligible List of Occupations:

- Sheet metal workers

- Welding trades

- Pipefitters

- Air-Conditioning & Refrigeration Engineers 

- Shuttering Carpenters

- Glaziers, window fabricators & fitters

- Scaffolders, stagers & riggers

- Crane drivers

 Removal of the certain occupations from the Ineligible List of Occupations by quota:

- Transport and Distribution Clerks and Assistants (Freight Forwarders; Cargo & Freight Agents; Brokerage Clerks) subject to a quota of 300,

- Plasterers subject to a quota of 250

- Bricklayers subject to a quota of 250

As construction in the residential sector increases, it is important that the sector has access to the right mix of skills & labour. These changes to the employment permits system will ensure that we can have the right people with the right skills in place to support construction industry activity, particularly in the residential sector.

Housing Adaptation Grant

Questions (615)

Niall Collins

Question:

615. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if he will address a matter regarding the case of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16138/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

My Department provides funding to local authorities to implement the Housing Adaptation Grant Scheme for Older People and People with a Disability in private houses. The detailed administration of the scheme, including the assessment, approval and payment of individual grants to applicants, is the responsibility of the relevant local authority. 

The scheme is more sharply focused towards lower income households with the greatest needs. A means test applies to the scheme in order to achieve fairness and value for money in its operation. The current income limits for the scheme were last reviewed and amended in 2014, arising from the recommendations of a review group, which included consultations with organisations such as the Irish Wheelchair Association, the National Disability Authority, Ataxia Ireland and the Irish Society for Autism. Local authorities will always work with qualifying applicants to ensure they get the most beneficial result in line with their financial circumstances. 

I understand from the relevant local authority that they do not have an application from the person in question but it is open to them to engage with the local authority in that regard.

Local Authority Housing Data

Questions (616)

Micheál Martin

Question:

616. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of voids renovated in Cork city in 2018; the number outstanding; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16159/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

The management and maintenance of local authority housing stock, including pre-letting repairs to vacant properties, responsive repairs and implementing planned maintenance programmes, is a matter for each individual local authority, in line with Section 58 of the Housing Act 1966.  Local authorities return vacant properties to use through their own resources and also using exchequer support from my Department. During 2018, exchequer funding of €820,190 was provided to Cork City Council to support them to return 74 vacant properties to use.

A major local authority, such as Cork City Council, managing a significant housing stock, will always have a level of vacancy in that stock, as the turnover of stock is continuous; a portion of properties will be vacant at any given time between tenancies and that number will not be static.  All local authorities, however, are actively encouraged to ensure all vacant properties in their stock are brought back into use as expeditiously as possible and Cork City Council has been well supported by my Department in this regard, as well as utilising their own resources to make social homes available to new tenants as soon as possible.

On an ongoing basis, the National Oversight & Audit Commission (NOAC) reviews the social housing stock level in local authorities every year, including the number of vacant or void local authority houses at a particular point in time.  NOAC’s activities in this regard are summarised in its Annual Performance Indicator Reports for the years 2014-2017, and are set out on a local authority basis at the following link: http://noac.ie/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/NOAC-Performance-Indicators-Report-2017.pdf.

Home Loan Scheme

Questions (617)

James Browne

Question:

617. Deputy James Browne asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government further to Parliamentary Question No. 1355 of 26 March 2019, if a person whose credit rating has been restored following the five year term of a company (details supplied) must advise if they previously owned a property; if the five year term of the company clears the slate of all previous borrowings; the position regarding access to Rebuilding Ireland mortgages following bankruptcy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16164/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

Applicants for the Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan must be of good credit standing and have a satisfactory credit record. 

A person who has been discharged from bankruptcy and is eligible in all other respects, including being a first-time buyer, for a Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan may apply for a loan and will be subject to the same credit assessment process that applies to all applicants, which is carried out in accordance with the credit policy for the scheme.

As with the previous local authority home loan offerings, the Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan is available to first time buyers only. This is to ensure the effective targeting of limited resources, and I have no plans to amend this requirement. The Housing Agency provides a central assessment service to local authorities and credit checks are undertaken as part of that assessment process. 

The final decision on loan approval is a matter for the relevant local authority and its credit committee on a case-by-case basis.  Decisions on all housing loan applications must be made in accordance with the Regulations establishing the scheme and the credit policy, that underpins the scheme, in order to ensure prudence and consistency in approaches in the best interests of both borrowers and the lending local authorities.

Better Energy Homes Scheme

Questions (618)

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

618. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if a person (details supplied) qualifies for grants or an insulation programme. [16194/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

Grant assistance may be available from the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland in respect of energy efficiency retrofitting works to prevent heat loss from a dwelling.

My Department provides funding to local authorities under the suite of Housing Adaptation Grants for Older People and People with a Disability, but as the focus of this funding is particularly on adapting houses so that eligible recepients can continue to live in their own homes, grants for insulation are not covered and are more appropriate to the SEAI schemes.

Fire Service

Questions (619)

Peter Burke

Question:

619. Deputy Peter Burke asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the status in relation to a project (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16213/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

The provision of fire services in local authority areas, including the establishment and maintenance of fire brigades, the assessment of fire cover needs and the provision of premises, is a statutory function of the individual fire authorities under the provisions of the Fire Services Act 1981. My Department supports the fire authorities through setting general policy, providing a central training programme, issuing guidance on operational and other related matters and providing capital funding for priority infrastructural projects.

In February 2016, my Department announced a five-year Fire Services Capital Programme with an allocation of €40 million, based on an annual €8 million allocation, to be used for the purchase of fire appliances and specialist equipment, building or upgrading of prioritised Fire Stations, an upgrade of the Communications and Mobilisation system and improvements to Training Centres.

Prior to this programme, a project to construct a new two-bay fire station at Lanesboro was approved by my Department and completed in 2014, with my Department recouping €1.01m to Longford County Council for costs incurred on the project.

Longford County Council has since prioritised a project to extend Longford town fire brigade headquarters and my Department approved an allocation of €762,227 for this project in 2017, of which €294,384 has been recouped to the Council to date. 

Correspondence was received by my Department in July 2018 regarding a proposal for a new fire station for Ballymahon at an estimated project cost of €1.5m. This station is not included in the 2016 – 2020 Capital Programme, but all new proposals are considered as part of an annual review of project applications on hand. Currently there are no plans to approve funding for the Ballymahon proposal in the immediate term, but the case for a new station will be kept under review.

Water and Sewerage Schemes Status

Questions (620)

Dara Calleary

Question:

620. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the status of a proposed water scheme extension in (details supplied) in County Mayo; the steps taken to advance the scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16225/19]

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.

Mayo 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 later in the second quarter of 2019.