I propose to take Questions Nos. 1545 to 1547, inclusive, together.
Under Section 6 of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1992, housing authorities may provide assistance to Approved Housing Bodies (AHBs) for the provision and management of housing accommodation. As Minister, I am empowered to grant approved status to housing bodies for this purpose. AHBs are non-profit, independent legal entities with independent governance structures.
Each AHB must have a properly functioning governing body, or board of directors/trustees, which is directly responsible for the commissioning of housing projects and services, the ownership, management and maintenance of dwellings and compliance with all statutory regulations. An AHB seeking to obtain, and to retain, approved status in its memorandum or articles of association must:
- Have as primary objectives the relief of housing needs, or poverty or hardship or the welfare of travellers, and the provision and management of housing;
- Have provisions prohibiting the distribution of any surplus, profit, bonus or dividend to members and requiring the assets of the body be applied solely towards its objectives; and
- Have a winding-up clause which states that, in the event of winding up or dissolution of the company, there remains any property whatsoever, it shall be given or transferred to some other institution having objectives similar to the objectives of the company.
My Department is currently working on new legislation which will establish a Statutory Regulator to oversee, more effectively, the governance, financial management and performance of voluntary and co-operative housing bodies that provide housing in accordance with the Housing Acts.
In the interim, the Government established an Interim Regulation Committee for the AHB sector under the auspices of the Housing Agency, which, supported by a Regulation Office based within the Agency, oversees implementation of a voluntary regulation code (VRC) for AHBs. Since the Code was put in place, any AHB applying for housing funding from my Department and local authorities must furnish proof of compliance with the Voluntary Code. Only those AHBs that have undergone a satisfactory assessment as part of the annual assessment process by the Regulation Office are considered eligible for funding from local authorities for the provision of social housing.
Information in relation to AHB staff is not held in my Department; the appointment of personnel to AHBs is a matter for their individual Boards. I have no role in relation to such appointments nor does my Department. Currently, there are 547 bodies with approved status and the register of AHBs can be found on my Department's website at:
My Department is not involved in the procurement process or the contractual agreements between an AHB and a developer or contractor. However, all publicly-funded construction projects, including social housing, are implemented under the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform’s Capital Works Management Framework.
In order to be of assistance to the Deputy, enquiries were made relating to the project referred to and it has been confirmed the procurement for housing development was published on the eTenders procurement website on 02/04/2015 under Ref. RFT 94189.