Presidential Elections

Questions (685)

Micheál Martin

Question:

685. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government his plans for the forthcoming referendum on extending the franchise for presidential elections. [28204/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

At its meeting on 5 February 2019, the Government agreed that the preferred option to be put to the people in a referendum to extend the franchise at Presidential elections is for an extension of the franchise to all citizens resident outside the State, including citizens resident in Northern Ireland. More recently, at a meeting of the Government on 11 June 2019, the general scheme of a Constitution Amendment Bill was approved for drafting and for circulation to the Oireachtas Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade, and Defence, for pre-legislative scrutiny. The Committee agreed at its meeting on 27 June 2019 to waive pre-legislative scrutiny.

My Department and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade are currently working in close consultation with the Office of the Attorney General on the preparation of the necessary Constitution Amendment Bill. It is intended that a Bill will be brought to Government shortly for approval to initiate in the Dáil in accordance with Article 46.2 of the Constitution. The publication of the Bill will allow for the establishment of a Referendum Commission in good time and to allow for the holding of a referendum in October/November 2019, subject to the passage of the Bill by both Houses of the Oireachtas.

Housing Data

Questions (686)

Eoin Ó Broin

Question:

686. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the social housing build and acquisition targets for 2020 and 2021. [27470/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

The overall targets under Rebuilding Ireland for social housing build and acquisition, over the period 2020-2021, are as follows: 

 

 2020

 2021

 Build

 7,736

 8,907

 Acquisition

 800

 800

Data in relation to 2018-2021 overall targets and 2019 social housing targets on a local authority basis, across all delivery streams under Rebuilding Ireland, can be found on the Rebuilding Ireland website at the following link:  http://rebuildingireland.ie/news/social-housing-targets-2019/

Housing Assistance Payment

Questions (687)

Eoin Ó Broin

Question:

687. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government his views on a report (details supplied) published by the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission which highlights the way in which the Workplace Relations Commission process cannot be the solution for dealing with discrimination against persons on housing benefits; and if further initiatives to deal with the problem will be examined. [27471/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

Under the Housing Assistant Payment (HAP) scheme, eligible households source their own accommodation in the private rented sector. It should be noted that a landlord or an agent acting on behalf of a landlord is not legally obliged to enter into a tenancy agreement with a HAP recipient. However, on 1 January 2016, the Equality (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2015 introduced “housing assistance” as a new discriminatory ground. This means that discrimination in the provision of accommodation or related service and amenities against people in receipt of rent supplement, HAP or other social welfare payments is prohibited. If a person feels that they have been discriminated against by a landlord or their agent, they can make a complaint under the Equal Status Acts to the Workplace Relations Commission.

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (IHREC) 2018 Annual Report states that it dealt with 1,711 queries from the public last year relating to the Equal Status Acts. 22% of these related to “housing assistance”, which equates to approximately 376 complaints.

Misunderstanding of the scheme is often to blame for such discrimination and it highlights the need for the State to continue to explain and outline the many benefits of HAP to landlords. My Department and local authorities have been involved in a range of national and local communications actions to clarify the operational benefits of HAP to landlords and agents.

At the end of Quarter 1 2019, over 45,900 eligible households were being supported through HAP, with over 27,100 individual landlords and agents providing accommodation via the scheme. The number of complaints referred to above equates to less than 1% of the total households being supported.

My Department continues to keep the operation of the HAP scheme under review. In general, I am satisfied with the operation of HAP and consider it to be a key vehicle for meeting housing need and fulfilling the ambitious programme outlined under Rebuilding Ireland.

Local Authority Housing Rents

Questions (688)

Darragh O'Brien

Question:

688. Deputy Darragh O'Brien asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government when the new differential rent scheme is due to be introduced; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27483/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

Section 31 of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009 provides for the Minister to introduce a national rents framework for social housing tenants. Considerable work has been carried out by my Department in developing a draft of such a framework, which has as its main aim the harmonisation of local authority rents, to ensure that rent schemes are fair and sustainable, prioritise those on lowest incomes and avoid creating social welfare traps that may prevent people from either returning to work or to the private housing market. The general over-arching principle that rents should be related to incomes will be maintained.

This work is now being examined further in the light of the broader commitment given in the Rebuilding Ireland Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness, to review the disparate systems of differential rent for social housing in place across local authorities. I expect that the review will be completed in the near future, at which point I will consider what proposals might be brought to Government as part of a wider social housing reform package of measures, that would continue to ensure that housing support goes to those who need it most within a system that is responsive to people’s changing needs and circumstances.

Planning Guidelines

Questions (689, 704)

Dara Calleary

Question:

689. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government when the revised rural housing guidelines will be published. [27520/19]

View answer

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

704. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government when the revised rural housing planning guidelines will issue taking into account the Flemish Decree judgment of the European Court; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28013/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 689 and 704 together.

Following engagement between the European Commission and my Department regarding the European Court of Justice ruling in the "Flemish Decree" case, a working group was established to review and, where necessary, recommend changes to the 2005 Planning Guidelines on Sustainable Rural Housing, issued under section 28 of the Planning and Development Act 2000, as amended. The working group comprises senior officials from the Planning Division of my Department and senior officials from the Planning Divisions of local authorities, nominated by the local government sector.

Taking account of the engagement with the European Commission regarding revisions to the 2005 Rural Housing Guidelines and subject to the completion of the ongoing deliberations by the working group, I will be in a position to finalise and issue to planning authorities revisions to the 2005 Guidelines that take account of the relevant European Court of Justice judgment.

Commercial Rates

Questions (690)

Dara Calleary

Question:

690. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the powers available to local authorities to grant rates relief to a business expanding its operation and as a consequence its employment potential; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27521/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

Supporting economic development and enterprise objectives in their own areas, and on a regional and national basis, is a core objective of local authorities. Commercial rates income is critical to meet the cost of services provided by local authorities in supporting local communities and businesses.

The Commissioner of Valuation is independent in setting of valuations for rating and the Valuation Office is currently engaged in a national revaluation programme, the first such revaluation in over 160 years. Up to date valuations are important to ensure that the levying of rates is on a fair, equitable and consistent basis across all economic sectors and parts of the country.

Local authorities levy rates on commercial properties in accordance with the Commissioner’s valuation. The annual rate on valuation (ARV) is a reserved function decided by elected members in the annual budget. My Department has, in recent years, requested local authorities to exercise restraint in setting ARVs and they have responded positively.

In overall terms, while economic activity has been expanding significantly in recent years, the overall rates income of local authorities nationally has remained relatively unchanged. Furthermore, I understand that of the revaluations conducted to date, under the revaluation programme, approximately 60% of ratepayers have had their liability for rates reduced and approximately 40% have experienced an increase.

In order to ensure that the revaluation promotes equity across sectors and areas, but is also a revenue neutral exercise in overall terms, the Minister may limit the total amount of rates collectable within a local authority in the year following a revaluation to that collected in the previous year, subject to minor adjustments.

In terms of specific reliefs, the Local Government (Rates) Act 1970 allows rating authorities to make waiver schemes in respect of specified classes of property, subject to the consent of the Minister. Furthermore, the Local Government (Rates) Bill 2018, which passed Committee stage in the Dáil last week, contains a provision, for the introduction of rates alleviation (waiver) schemes by local authorities to support important policy objectives contained in local, economic, community and land use plans. The Bill is a key legislative priority of my Department.

Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness

Questions (691)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

691. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the steps he is considering in the context of the Budget Statement 2020 to ensure that every child will live in secure and affordable housing; if short and strict time limits will be brought forward for homeless families to be rehoused from emergency accommodation and fund the necessary measures in budget 2020; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27566/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

Addressing homelessness is a priority for the Government. In 2016, the Government published the Rebuilding Ireland Action Plan on Housing and Homelessness. Rebuilding Ireland is designed to significantly increase the supply of social housing by 50,000 homes in the period to 2021, double the output of overall housing to at least 25,000 homes per annum by 2020, support all tenure types (social, private and rental), and tackle homelessness comprehensively. The Plan is underpinned by over €6 billion in funding. By the end of Quarter 1 2019, 78,000 households had been supported under Rebuilding Ireland and this figure is expected to reach 100,000 by the end of 2019.

The Government has increased the budget available to local authorities to deliver homeless services to €146m in 2019, an increase of over 25% on the 2018 allocation. Local authorities and their service delivery partners work with households experiencing homelessness to identify and secure exits from emergency accommodation to independent tenancies, within the shortest possible timeframe. Rebuilding Ireland is delivering very significant results in supporting exits from homelessness. In 2018, 5,135 adults exited homelessness into independent tenancies, an 8.6% increase on 2017. Securing housing solutions for all households experiencing homelessness will continue to be a priority for my Department.

Local Authority Housing Waiting Lists

Questions (692)

Lisa Chambers

Question:

692. Deputy Lisa Chambers asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of persons on the housing waiting list in County Mayo; and the average waiting time on the list. [27672/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

Details on the number of households qualified for social housing support in each local authority area are set out in the statutory Summary of Social Housing Assessments (SSHA). Since 2016, the Summary process has been carried out on an annual basis.

The SSHA report includes breakdowns by each local authority across a range of categories. Details on the length of time spent on the record of qualified households (waiting lists) can be found at tables 2.8 and A1.8. It should be noted that the SSHA is a point in time exercise and does not necessarily reflect the dynamic nature of entry to and exit from the list.

The most recent summary, which was carried out in 2018, details the number of households on all local authority waiting lists, including Co. Mayo, as at 11 June 2018 and can be found on my Department's website at the following link:

www.housing.gov.ie/sites/default/files/publications/files/summary_of_social_housing_assessments_2018_-_key_findings.pdf.

The SSHA for 2019 is currently in progress and I expect to be in a position to publish the report later in the year.

Housing Agency

Questions (693)

Lisa Chambers

Question:

693. Deputy Lisa Chambers asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of persons who applied for the Rebuilding Ireland home loan; the number who have been successful and drawn down funds; and the funding provided to County Mayo for the scheme. [27674/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

The Housing Agency provides a central support service, which assesses applications for the Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan on behalf of local authorities and makes recommendations to the authorities to approve or refuse applications. I have asked the Agency to compile figures on the numbers of applications that it has assessed since the scheme began. The most recent figures, as at the end of May 2019, indicate that 4,193 applications have been assessed by it since the Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan scheme launched in February 2018. Of these, the Agency had recommended 2,153 applications (51%) for approval.

In addition to this, my Department publishes information on the overall number and value of (i) local authority loan approvals and (ii) local authority loan drawdowns. Information up to the end of Quarter 1 2019, including in relation to number and value of mortgage drawdowns, is available on the Department's website at the following link: http://www.housing.gov.ie/housing/statistics/house-prices-loans-and-profile-borrowers/local-authority-loan-activity .

The final allocation assigned to Mayo County Council for mortgage and home improvement loans in 2018 was some €5.45m.

When the scheme was initially being developed, it was estimated that the drawdown of loans would be approximately €200 million over three years. The RIHL has proven to be more successful than initially anticipated, with some €140 million drawn down to the end of March 2019. The first tranche of funding has not been exhausted.

My officials 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 indicated that my Department was in discussions with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform and the Department of Finance with regard to the allocation for 2019.

At all times, the scheme remained open and all local authorities were advised to continue to receive and process applications up to and including the issuing of loans.

My Department has consulted in detail with each Local Authority as to the anticipated demand in its area, and the likely level of approvals expected. This information has been submitted to the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform with request for sanction for additional borrowing by the Housing Finance Agency. The HFA have an ongoing borrowing facility for when sanction is given so that they are in a position to proceed to borrow this second tranche of funding immediately.

The first tranche of funding has not been exhausted, the Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan remains open to new applicants, and local authorities are to continue to receive and process applications and issue loans.

Housing Data

Questions (694)

Lisa Chambers

Question:

694. Deputy Lisa Chambers asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of new housing developments delivered in County Mayo in 2018; and the number of units that will be delivered in 2019. [27675/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

CSO data has confirmed that there were 316 housing completions in Mayo in 2018, which represented an increase of 31% on 2017 levels. Excluding single dwellings the numbers of new dwellings completed totalled 78 in 2018 compared to a total of 50 in 2017. There were also commencement notices for 380 dwellings submitted in Mayo in 2018, which represented an increase of 18% on 2017 levels. 

In relation to social housing construction activity, my Department publishes comprehensive status reports on a quarterly basis of all social housing construction schemes for all local authority areas. The most recent of these reports covers the period up to the end of March 2019 and contains information on the progress of over 20,300 new social housing homes, which are currently approved and progressing through planning, design and construction, as well as homes delivered to end March 2019.

The report shows that Mayo County Council and Approved Housing Bodies (AHBs) have a social housing construction programme of 38 projects or schemes already complete or at planning, design, tender or construction stage, which will deliver 310 homes when complete.

This report can be found at the following link http://rebuildingireland.ie/news/minister-murphy-publishes-social-housing-construction-status-report-for-q1-2019/

In addition, data in relation to social housing targets and delivery on a local authority basis, across all delivery streams under Rebuilding Ireland, can be found on my Department's website at the following link:

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

In addition, 2019 targets have been provided to each local authority, outlining their individual target under build, acquisition, leasing, HAP and RAS and a full breakdown of these targets is available on the Rebuilding Ireland website at the following link:

http://rebuildingireland.ie/news/social-housing-targets-2019/.

Housing Finance Agency Funding

Questions (695)

Catherine Martin

Question:

695. Deputy Catherine Martin asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government his plans to release further funds to local authorities under the Rebuilding Ireland home loan scheme; the timeline for a decision; if he will release same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27822/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

When the Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan (RIHL) scheme was initially being developed, it was estimated that the drawdown of loans would be approximately €200 million over three years. The RIHL has proven to be more successful than initially anticipated, with some €140 million drawn down to the end of March 2019. The first tranche of funding has not been exhausted.

My officials 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 indicated that my Department was in discussions with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform and the Department of Finance with regard to the allocation for 2019.

At all times, the scheme remained open and all local authorities were advised to continue to receive and process applications up to and including the issuing of loans.

My Department has consulted in detail with each Local Authority as to the anticipated demand in its area, and the likely level of approvals expected. This information has been submitted to the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform with request for sanction for additional borrowing by the Housing Finance Agency. The HFA have an ongoing borrowing facility for when sanction is given so that they are in a position to proceed to borrow this second tranche of funding immediately.

The first tranche of funding has not been exhausted, the Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan remains open to new applicants, and local authorities are to continue to receive and process applications and issue loans.

Housing Assistance Payment

Questions (696)

Denis Naughten

Question:

696. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if a person applies for HAP has to qualify for social housing in the county in which he or she is applying for same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27833/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

The flexibility of HAP as a social housing support is one of the scheme's key characteristics and was one of the primary benefits envisaged at the outset of the scheme. With this in mind, guidelines on inter authority movement were introduced in 2017 to allow for local authorities to facilitate movement of HAP households from one local authority area to another in cases where a HAP tenant, currently on a local authority waiting list, wishes to access rented accommodation with HAP support in another local authority area. Inter authority movement is subject to certain conditions.

Additional guidance issued in April 2019. Households eligible for social housing support are now provided with the opportunity to avail of HAP in any local authority area, subject, of course, to the current Social Housing Income Eligibility Bands or confirmation that the applicant's income is below the threshold in the new local authority.

Given that such flexibility facilitates better utilisation of all private rental stock for social housing purposes and supports the maximum activation potential of HAP households by removing geographical barriers to employment (such as loss of housing support or time on a transfer list), all local authorities have been requested to give appropriate consideration to these requests.

HAP tenants continue to be dealt with by their originating local authority. However, the rent limits will be those that apply in the local authority where the property is situated. The originating local authority will engage with the relevant new local authority to facilitate eligible requests for inter-authority movement.

Housing Adaptation Grant Funding

Questions (697)

Michael Moynihan

Question:

697. Deputy Michael Moynihan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if he will review the maximum grants available under the housing aid for older people grant, mobility aids grant and housing adaptation grant in view of the significant increases in construction costs and the cost of materials in recent years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27855/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

The maximum grant amounts payable under the Housing Adaptation Grants for Older People and People with a Disability Scheme were reviewed in 2013 and I have no plans at this point for a further review. The average individual amount paid under this scheme is currently lower than the maximum permitted and the current arrangement seeks to spread the benefits of the available funding to a higher number of recipients. My main focus in respect of these grants is increasing the funding, with €71.25 million available nationally in 2019, an increase of some 8% on the 2018 allocation.

I am conscious of the benefit accruing from these grants, particularly in terms of facilitating older people and people with a disability, to remain living independently in their own homes. This is recognised in the Programme for Government and as a consequence, funding has been increasing year on year since 2014. As part of the annual budgetary process, consideration will be given in future years to increasing further the funding for these grants in line with both Rebuilding Ireland and the Government's Policy Statement on Housing Options for Our Ageing Population, which is available on my Department's website at the following link: https://www.housing.gov.ie/sites/default/files/publications/files/housingoptionsforanageingpopulationeng_web.pdf.

Departmental Reviews

Questions (698)

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

698. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of live studies, reviews and research undertaken or commissioned by him; and the date by which each study, review and research is scheduled to be completed. [27885/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

Details of the live studies, reviews and research undertaken or commissioned by my Department and the currently envisaged timeframe for completion of each, are set out in the table.

Title of live Study/Review/Research

Completion Timeline

Irish Affordable Cost Rental Housing Market (Being commissioned by the EIB/URBIS on behalf of the Department)

End 2019

Traveller Accommodation Expert Review

July 2019

Development of Cost Optimal Calculations and Gap Analysis for Directive 2010/31/EU on the European Performance of Buildings (Recast)

July 2019

Architectural Services - Standard Internal Dwelling Layouts

30/09/19

An Assessment of First Time Buyer Housing Affordability at the County Level.

(This research will be an output of the Department’s research collaboration agreement with the Economic and Social Research Institute.)

Quarter 3, 2019.

Irish House Price Sustainability: A County-Level Analysis

(This research will be an output of the Department’s research collaboration agreement with the Economic and Social Research Institute.)

Quarter 3, 2019.

Credit Access in the Irish Mortgage Market: Scoping the Role of Public Lending

(This research will be an output of the Department’s research collaboration agreement with the Economic and Social Research Institute.)

Quarter 3, 2019.

Value for Money Review of Homeless Services

Quarter 3, 2019.

Review of Social Housing Income Eligibility Thresholds

Timeline is dependent on the progress of other parallel initiatives on housing affordability.

Based on demographic projections to 2031,  an examination the potential of the following three settlement types to meet the housing and associated service needs of older people:

1. A small / medium sized town

2. A suburban area

3. An inner city /urban centre

Within each of the chosen locations map the:

1. Existing land use and ownership

2. Vacant sites and buildings

3. Existing housing

4. Existing and proposed infrastructure and services.

5. Any proposed new housing and other developments

6. Deliver proposals demonstrating the capacity of each of the areas to meet the future housing needs of older people.

[In conjunction with the Housing Agency, Fingal County Council, Meath County Council and Mayo County Council]

September 2019

A research project which will examine the housing circumstances and attitudes of households composed of homeowners

aged 55+. A particular focus will be the factors which might inhibit or encourage such households to seek properties better suited to their circumstances, typically, right-sizing.

[Co-funded by the Irish Government Economic and Evaluation Service and being undertaken by this Department and the Department of Finance.

September 2019

A baseline questionnaire to all Local Authorities to ascertain the steps they have taken to provide housing options for older people and the barriers they have met, if any, regarding same.

[In conjunction with Age Friendly Ireland]

September 2019

Periodic Critical Review of Valuation Tribunal

End 2019

Review of Schedules 3 and 4 of the Valuation Act (Valuation Act 2001)

End 2019

Local Authority Elected Members Role & Remuneration Review

 September 2019

Research into experiences of female councillors in the 2019 Local Elections

End 2019

Health Research Board Analysis of data on fire-related deaths using coronial data

September 2019

Marine Institute – Data Integration for Improved Spatial Analysis and Representation

July 2019

Marine Institute – Marine Spatial Planning Data Governance

July 2019

Marine Institute – Data prioritisation and collection for Spatial Representation

Quarter 1, 2020

Marine Institute – Assess and Map Marine Ecosystems Services 

Quarter 1, 2020

Marine Institute – Mapping the Potential Impacts of Climate Change

Quarter 1, 2020

Marine Institute – Best Practice on Modelling and Support Tools for Integrating Marine Spatial Data for Scientific and Technical Advisory Services

Quarter 1, 2020

Marine Institute – Development of Marine Invasive Species Surveillance Methods to Facilitate their Spatial Mapping in Irish Nearshore and Foreshore Waters and Benthic Habitats

Quarter 1, 2021

Determination of micro-litter content of 95 coastal sediment samples in support of Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) implementation.

Quarter 2, 2020

A study of the population genetic structure of seals and the identification of appropriate MSFD parameters in Ireland

Quarter 4, 2020

Climate Adaptation Plan - Water services and water quality

Quarter 3, 2019

Shannon fish passage project at Ardnacrusha & Parteen

Quarter 2, 2020

Inland Fisheries Ireland inventory of barriers to fish migration

Quarter 3, 2021

Working Group on the review of wider investment needs relating to Rural Water Services. The review is being carried out in two Strands.

Strand 1 – Completed Q1 2019

Strand 2 – Preliminary Report: Q4 2019

Final Report: Q2 2020

Departmental Reports

Questions (699)

Tom Neville

Question:

699. Deputy Tom Neville asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the documents published by his Department since 1 January 2016 (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27916/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

Details of the policy documents and strategies published in 2016 and 2017 by my Department are included in the Department's Annual Reports. These reports can be found at the following link on the Department's website:

https://www.housing.gov.ie/search/archived/current?query=annual%20report

The publications in any given year are listed in an Appendix at the end of each Report.

The 2018 Annual Report will be published shortly and will again set out details of my Department's key publications last year.

Social and Affordable Housing Data

Questions (700)

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

700. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of social and affordable homes built in County Cavan in each of the years 2016 to 2018 and to date in 2019; and the number of social and affordable homes that are planned to be built in the county up until 2022. [27996/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

Data in relation to social housing delivery, including build data, across all local authorities, for the period 2016 to end March 2019 are published on my Department's website at the following link: 

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

My Department also publishes comprehensive status reports on a quarterly basis of all social housing construction schemes for all local authority areas. The most recent of these reports covers the period up to the end of March 2019, and contains information on the progress of over 20,300 new social housing homes, which are currently approved and progressing through planning, design and construction, as well as homes delivered to end March 2019.

The report shows that Cavan County Council, and the Approved Housing Bodies they are working with, have a social housing construction programme of 25 projects or schemes already complete or at planning, design, tender or construction stage, which will deliver 170 homes when complete. This report can be found at the following link http://rebuildingireland.ie/news/minister-murphy-publishes-social-housing-construction-status-report-for-q1-2019/.

National social housing delivery targets have been set under Rebuilding Ireland out to 2021. The 2019 build targets along with 2018-2021 overall social housing targets on a local authority basis, across all delivery streams under Rebuilding Ireland, can be found on my Department's website at the following link:  http://rebuildingireland.ie/news/social-housing-targets-2019/ .

While the delivery of affordable housing is being supported through the Serviced Sites Fund in those parts of the country which have an identified affordability issue on the basis of assessments carried out by local authorities, those areas do not include County Cavan.

Local Authority Housing Rents

Questions (701, 702)

Maurice Quinlivan

Question:

701. Deputy Maurice Quinlivan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the local authorities that consider the carer’s allowance as part of income when calculating rent for a local authority property; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27999/19]

View answer

Maurice Quinlivan

Question:

702. Deputy Maurice Quinlivan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the local authorities that consider the working family payment as part of income when calculating rent for a local authority property; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28000/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 701 and 702 together.

The right of local authorities to set and collect rents on their dwellings is laid down in section 58 of the Housing Act 1966. The making or amending of a rent scheme is an executive function and is subject to broad principles set out by my Department including that –

- the rent payable should be related to income and a smaller proportion of income should be required from low income households;

- provision should be included for the acceptance of a lower rent than that required under the terms of the scheme in exceptional cases where payment of the normal rent would give rise to hardship;

- appropriate local factors should be taken into account including the costs of the maintenance and management of the stock of rented dwellings and the adequacy of the rental income to meet such costs.

Since 1986 when rent setting was devolved to individual local authorities, different approaches have been taken to rent charging and setting across the country. While local authorities generally follow the Household Means Policy (which applies for assessment of eligibility for social housing) there is variation in the extent to which they apply the income disregards set out in that policy in their Differential Rent Schemes and differing approaches are taken to income sources such as the Working Family Payment or the Carer's Allowance. My Department does not hold data on the exact approaches taken by individual local authorities as the methodology for calculating rents is a matter for individual housing authorities in the first instance.

Considerable work has been carried out by my Department in developing 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.

This work is now being examined further in the light of the broader commitment given in the Rebuilding Ireland Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness, to review the disparate systems of differential rent for social housing in place across local authorities. 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.

Tenant Purchase Scheme Review

Question No. 704 answered with Question No. 689.

Questions (703)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

703. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government when the revised terms of the tenant incremental purchase scheme 2016 will be announced; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28012/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

The Housing (Sale of Local Authority Houses) Regulations 2015 set 1 January 2016 as the commencement date 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.

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 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.

Question No. 704 answered with Question No. 689.

Local Authority Housing Data

Questions (705)

Brendan Griffin

Question:

705. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the funding provided to Kerry County Council to purchase social houses in 2018 and to date in 2019; the number of units purchased; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28054/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

Details of the number of properties that have been acquired by local authorities for social housing, including by Kerry County Council, in 2018 and to the end of Quarter 1 of 2019, are published and available on my Department's website at the following link: http://www.housing.gov.ie/housing/social-housing/social-and-affordble/overall-social-housing-provision. Further details for 2019 will be published on a quarterly basis as the year progresses.

The funding provided to Kerry County Council for the purchase of social housing for 2018 was €7,597,113. For 2019, a total of €980,710 has been provided to the Council up to the end of the first quarter in respect of completed social housing acquisitions.

Water Charges

Questions (706)

Paul Murphy

Question:

706. Deputy Paul Murphy asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the reason Irish Water treats householders as if they are businesses and charges them for water they use in their property if the householder has a rainwater harvesting system which they rely on exclusively for agricultural purposes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28153/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

I refer to the reply to Question No. 210 of 20 June 2019 which sets out the statutory position in relation to charging arrangements for relevant customers of Irish Water, who may be able to assist further with this matter.

Proposed Legislation

Questions (707)

Seán Haughey

Question:

707. Deputy Seán Haughey asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if the fire services Bill will be brought forward; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28162/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

The Fire Services Act 1981 provides for the establishment of fire authorities and the organisation of fire services and for fire-fighting, as well as life safety and the protection and rescue of persons and property and related matters. The Act was amended in 2003 by Part III of the Licensing of Indoor Events Act 2003, primarily to clarify the responsibility of 'persons having control' of premises and to strengthen the powers of fire authorities to prosecute offences and serve notices.

The Report of the Fire Safety Task Force, established in the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower tragedy and overseen by my Department’s National Directorate for Fire and Emergency Management, makes a number of recommendations for enhancing the current fire safety system. I have accepted the Task Force’s recommendations and, as a result, my Department is currently considering making some additional fire safety regulations under the existing legislative provisions. It is also considering if amendments are required to primary legislation to ensure that the Fire Safety Task Force Report and its recommendations are fully implemented. Separately, my Department is also reviewing the regulatory regime in respect of funfairs.

The Fire Services Act 1981, as amended, is generally considered fit for purpose but I will bring forward proposals for amending legislation, arising from these reviews, later this year.