Tenant Purchase Scheme Review

Questions (169)

Noel Grealish

Question:

169. Deputy Noel Grealish asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government when a review of the tenant incremental purchase scheme will be published; if tenants of Part V housing will be allowed to purchase their houses under the scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23018/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

The Housing (Sale of Local Authority Houses) Regulations 2015 set the commencement date as 1 January 2016 for the introduction of the Tenant (Incremental) Purchase Scheme for existing local authority houses.

The Scheme is open to eligible tenants, including joint tenants, of local authority houses that are available for sale under the Scheme. To be eligible, tenants must meet certain criteria, including having a minimum reckonable income of €15,000 per annum and having been in receipt of social housing support for at least one year.

The provisions of Part V of the Planning and Development Act 2000, as amended, are designed to enable the development of mixed tenure sustainable communities. Part V homes are excluded from the Tenant (Incremental) Purchase Scheme 2016 to ensure that homes delivered under this mechanism will remain available for people in need of social housing support and that the original policy goals of the legislation are not eroded over time. The continued development of mixed tenure communities remains very important in promoting social integration.

Local authorities may also, within the provisions of the Regulations, exclude certain houses which, in the opinion of the authority, should not be sold for reasons such as proper stock or estate management. It is a matter for each individual local authority to administer the Scheme in its operational area in line with the over-arching provisions of the governing legislation for the scheme, and in a manner appropriate to its housing requirements.

In line with the commitment given in the Government's Rebuilding Ireland Action Plan on Housing and Homelessness, a review of the operation of the first 12 months of the Tenant Purchase (Incremental) Scheme has been completed and a full report has been prepared setting out findings and recommendations.

Following consideration of a number of implementation issues arising, I expect to be in a position to publish the Review very shortly. I intend to bring a comprehensive package of social housing reform measures to Government in the near future and the relevant recommendations made in the Review of the Tenant Purchase Scheme will be progressed as part of that process.

Social and Affordable Housing Provision

Questions (170)

John Curran

Question:

170. Deputy John Curran asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the basis on which he has made the decision to amend the regulations to provide that a household that refuses two offers in a 12-month period will not receive further offers from local authorities for a period of five years instead of the current period of one year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23032/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

The current position in relation to the refusal by households of offers of social housing dwellings is set down in Regulation 12 of the Social Housing Allocation Regulations 2011, made under section 22 of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009.

Under Regulation 12, a household that refuses two reasonable offers of social housing tenancies in any twelve-month period, other than an offer made under the Choice Based Letting procedure, will not receive any further offers from any local authority for a period of one year from the date of the second refusal. An offer is deemed to be reasonable where the dwelling concerned would, in the opinion of the authority, meet the housing needs of the household and, except in an emergency, is located in an area of choice specified by the household.

From engagement with the local authority sector, it has become apparent that the current 12-month sanction is not operating in a manner that sufficiently addresses the potential for households on the waiting list to turn down reasonable housing offers. The refusal of offers can have a serious impact on the efforts by local authorities to manage their social housing letting process effectively and efficiently, lengthening the period ultimately required to complete lettings or re-lettings and resulting in a loss of essential differential rent revenue for extended periods.

For these reasons, I plan to amend the regulations to provide that a household that refuses two reasonable offers in any twelve-month period, other than an offer made under the Choice Based Letting procedure, will not receive any further offers from any local authority for a period of five years. The latter period will not be reckonable subsequently for the purposes of determining the household’s relative priority for another social housing tenancy.

Having regard to the overall level of demand for social housing, I am satisfied that the change proposed is a measured step. It is ultimately fair to all households on local authority social housing waiting lists and will be supportive of the work of local authorities, as they seek to improve the efficient use of their social housing stock. I intend to bring this change forward as part of a comprehensive social housing reform package of measures that I expect to be in a position to bring to Government in the near future.

Local Authority Housing

Questions (171)

John Curran

Question:

171. Deputy John Curran asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government his plans to direct all local authorities to acknowledge the climate emergency and to take the necessary urgent action to deal with same in view of the fact that a climate emergency has been declared; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23033/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

Lead policy responsibility in relation to climate action is a matter for my colleague, the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and the Environment. However, I and my Department play a strongly supportive role, recognising the significant part that the built environment, planning and local government generally play in contributing to the achievement of Ireland’s climate targets.

Through our building regulations, we are ensuring that homes in Ireland are built to the highest energy efficiency standards. In relation to social housing specifically, funding of approximately €128 million has been provided from 2013 to the end of 2018 to improve energy efficiency in almost 68,000 local authority homes. In addition, energy efficiency measures have been incorporated into over 9,000 vacant social housing units that have been returned to productive use since 2014. This effectively means that approximately 50% of our social housing stock have had improvements to their energy efficiency.

To support the effort needed by the public sector to reach its target of a 33% improvement in energy efficiency by 2020, a Public Sector Energy Efficiency Strategy has been approved by Government and published by the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment. This Strategy contains a governance structure based around the designation of a senior manager as Energy Performance Officer (EPO) in each public sector body whose purpose is to provide oversight and strategic leadership on structured energy management within the organisation and to report to Government. My Department recently hosted a workshop with bodies and agencies under the aegis of the Department to provide an opportunity for each body and the group collectively to organise for performance and delivery of improved energy efficiency outcomes.

My Department is also playing a significant role in delivering on the Government’s climate ambitions through the National Planning Framework (NPF), which was published in early 2018 as part of Project Ireland 2040. The NPF sets out long-term policy for the future spatial pattern of development and urban structure in Ireland. The national objective to transition to a low carbon and climate resilient society by 2050 is a key aspect of the NPF, particularly reflected in the “compact growth” objective of targeting a greater proportion of development to take place in settlements of all sizes, through urban infill and the re-use of brownfield lands. The NPF operates horizontally across Government and will cascade vertically down through three Regional Spatial and Economic Strategies (RSESs), to directly influence the operation of the planning system through the thirty-one local authority Development Plans.

Turf Cutting Compensation Scheme Eligibility

Questions (172)

Eugene Murphy

Question:

172. Deputy Eugene Murphy asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if a person (details supplied) is eligible for inclusion in the turf cutting compensation scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22900/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Culture)

An application for compensation under the cessation of turf cutting compensation scheme was received by my Department from the individual referred to in the Deputy’s Question. With respect to 53 raised bog special areas of conservation 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 25 May 2010;

- 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 the applicant, referred to in the Deputy’s Question was informed in 2017 that he did not fulfil the qualifying criteria of the scheme. This applicant was provided with the opportunity to seek a Departmental review of this decision and did so. The decision was upheld and the applicant was advised that he could appeal this decision to the Peatlands Council.

My Department has been advised that, to date, no appeal has been received by the Peatlands Council.

Creative Ireland Programme

Questions (173)

Denise Mitchell

Question:

173. Deputy Denise Mitchell asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the estimated full year cost if the budget for the Creative Ireland programme was increased by 25%. [22960/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Culture)

The allocation from my Department's Vote to the Creative Ireland Programme for 2019 is €7,150,000.

A 25% increase in this allocation would amount to €1,787,500 and result in a total annual allocation of €8,937,500.