Disability Allowance Applications

Questions (825)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

825. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of an application for a disability allowance by a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30019/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

The person concerned was refused disability allowance (DA) on 4 July 2019. Their application, based upon all the evidence submitted, was refused on medical grounds as it was not found that this lady was substantially restricted in taking up employment.

She was notified of this decision which includes her right to a review of this decision or to appeal it to the independent Social Welfare Appeals Office.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.  

Domiciliary Care Allowance Appeals

Questions (826)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

826. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of an application for a domiciliary care allowance by a person (details supplied); statement; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30031/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that the appeal from the person concerned was referred to an Appeals Officer who has decided to hold an oral hearing in this case on 17 July 2019.  The person concerned has been notified of the arrangements for the 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.

Domiciliary Care Allowance Appeals

Questions (827)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

827. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of an application for a domiciliary care allowance by a person (details supplied); statement; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30035/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was referred on 28 May 2019 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 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.

Disability Allowance Appeals

Questions (828)

Eamon Scanlon

Question:

828. Deputy Eamon Scanlon asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of a disability allowance appeal by a person (details supplied). [30036/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

The application for disability allowance (DA) from the person in question was disallowed by a deciding officer (DO) who decided that she did not satisfy the medical condition for the scheme.  Notification of this decision and the reason for it issued to the person on 10 April 2019. 

The person in question has lodged an appeal with the independent Social Welfare Appeals Office (SWAO).  All the relevant papers requested by that Office have been prepared and were submitted by the Department on the 9 May 2019. The SWAO will be in touch with the person in due course in relation to the progress of the appeal.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Social Welfare Appeals Status

Questions (829)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

829. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of an application for a pension by a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30048/19]

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 13 May 2019.  It is a statutory requirement of the appeals process that the relevant papers and comments by or on behalf of the Deciding Officer on the grounds of appeal be sought from the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection  These papers were received in the Social Welfare Appeals Office on 6 June 2019 and the case has now been referred to an Appeals Officer who will make a summary decision on the appeal based on documentary evidence presented or, if required, hold an oral 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.  

State Pension (Contributory)

Questions (830)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

830. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if the pension of a person (details supplied) is under review; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30049/19]

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 home-caring periods.

The person concerned was awarded a reduced rate State pension (contributory) in 2015.  Following an assessment of a claim for state pension (non-contributory),  their state pension (contributory) claim was withdrawn in favour of a more beneficial weekly rate of state pension non-contributory.  

In June 2019, the person concerned submitted an application for HomeCaring periods, with the  maximum permissible number of HomeCaring periods (1,040, as set out in legislation) being awarded.    Following a review of their state pension (contributory) entitlement, they are now entitled to the maximum rate.  A review outcome has issued to the person concerned, outlining details of their increase and arrears of payment backdated to 30 March 2018 have issued. 

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.  

EU Directives

Questions (831)

Catherine Connolly

Question:

831. Deputy Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the statutory competent authorities with legal authority to make statutory determinations under directives (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29306/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

The statutory competent authorities with legal authority to make statutory determinations under EU Directive 92/43/EEC on the conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora (the Habitats Directive) and EU Directive 2009/147/EC on the conservation of wild birds (the Birds Directive) are a matter for my colleague, the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, whom I understand has provided this information to the Deputy in reply to Parliamentary Question No. 771 of 25 June 2019.

Directive 2011/92/EU on the assessment of the effects of certain public and private projects on the environment as amended by Directive 2014/52/EU (the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Directive), states that a competent authority is the authority or authorities designated by the relevant Member State as responsible for performing duties arising from the EIA Directive. There are numerous consent systems in Ireland which incorporate EIA and which are governed by separate pieces of legislation that are the responsibility of different Departments. In each such piece of legislation, the competent authority is identified as the body responsible for examining the Environmental Impact Assessment Report prepared and for carrying out the EIA. The competent authority then makes its decision on whether to give development consent for the project, having regard to its assessment.

For example, the competent authority in respect of land use planning, pursuant to the Planning and Development Act 2000, as amended, is the relevant planning authority, or An Bord Pleanála as the case may be,  while  the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government is the competent authority in respect of consents under the Foreshore Act 1933, as amended. In effect, the responsibility as competent authority is appropriately assigned to a specified authority in the context of each relevant consent system.

As regards EU Directive 2001/24/EC on the assessment of the effects of certain plans and programmes on the environment (the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) Directive), the Directive has been transposed into Irish law by two sets of statutory instruments: the European Communities (Environmental Assessment of Certain Plans and Programmes) Regulations 2004, as amended, and the Planning and Development (Strategic Environmental Assessment) Regulations 2004, as amended.  

The former Regulations do not identify specific authorities as competent authorities, but rather specify that “competent authority” means the authority which is, or the authorities which are jointly, responsible for the preparation of a plan or programme, or modification to a plan or programme pursuant to the Regulations.

The latter Regulations designate planning authorities as the competent authority for the preparation or variation of a statutory development plan or the preparation of a local area plan, and regional authorities are designated as competent authorities for the preparation of regional planning guidelines, where environmental assessment of the plan is required, in accordance with the requirements of the Regulations.

Property Registration Authority

Questions (832)

John Lahart

Question:

832. Deputy John Lahart asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the status of a query (details supplied) lodged with the Property Registration Authority of Ireland that has been awaiting a substantive response for more than ten months; the reason for the delay in a response; his views on whether such waiting time for response is acceptable; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29517/19]

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 in this question. This provides a speedy, efficient and cost effective system through which the PRA can address such queries. This service can be availed of by contacting reps@prai.ie.

Wind Energy Guidelines

Questions (833)

Peter Burke

Question:

833. Deputy Peter Burke asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government when guidelines for industrial wind farms will be published. [29888/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

My Department is currently undertaking a focused review of the 2006 Wind Energy Development Guidelines in line with the “preferred draft approach” which was announced in June 2017 by the then Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government, in conjunction with the then Minister for Communications, Climate Action and the Environment. The review is addressing a number of key aspects including sound or noise, visual amenity setback distances, shadow flicker, community obligation, community dividend and grid connections.

As part of the overall review, a strategic environmental assessment (SEA) is being undertaken on the revised Guidelines before they come into effect, in accordance with the requirements of EU Directive 2001/24/EC on the assessment of the effects of certain plans and programmes on the environment, otherwise known as the SEA Directive. SEA is a process by which environmental considerations are required to be fully integrated into the preparation of plans and programmes which act as frameworks for development consent, prior to their final adoption, with public consultation as part of that process.

While the revised draft guidelines had been expected to be published in Quarter 1 2019, some delays to the planned schedule arose, due to the recent publication of updated World Health Organisation (WHO) noise standards and the need to focus on certain Brexit-related planning issues.

As part of the SEA process, there will shortly be an 8-week public consultation on the revised draft Guidelines, together with the comprehensive environmental report. Finalised Guidelines will be prepared following detailed analysis and consideration of the submissions received during the consultation phase, and the conclusion of the SEA process. My Department will aim to commence the public consultation later in Q3 2019.

When finalised, the revised Guidelines will be issued under section 28 of the Planning and Development Act 2000, as amended.  Planning authorities and, where applicable, An Bord Pleanála must have regard to guidelines issued under section 28 in the performance of their functions generally under the Planning Acts. In the meantime, the current 2006 Wind Energy Development Guidelines remain in force.

Solar Energy Guidelines

Questions (834)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

834. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the status of guidelines for solar farms (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29952/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

As is the case with the large majority of development types, there are currently no specific planning guidelines in place in respect of solar farms.  Proposals for individual solar farm developments are subject to the statutory requirements of the Planning and Development Act 2000, as amended, in the same manner as other proposed developments, with planning applications made to the relevant local planning authority and with a right of appeal to An Bord Pleanála.  Within the wider national and local planning context, including the planning authority's Development Plan, planning authorities must make their decisions, based on the specific merits or otherwise of individual planning applications.

While I am satisfied that the planning code is sufficiently robust to facilitate the assessment of individual planning applications for solar farm developments, the matter is being kept under review, in consultation with the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and the Environment, who leads on renewable energy policy.   Our two Departments are presently exploring the potential for enhancing national planning guidance on solar energy, taking account of solar energy projects being assessed by planning authorities and the scope for future development of the sector in the context of the ongoing development of renewable energy policy. 

On foot of this on-going engagement between the two Departments, where the need for specific planning guidance for solar farms is identified, my Department will develop such guidance as appropriate.

Traveller Accommodation

Questions (835)

Richard Boyd Barrett

Question:

835. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the role of the county development plan in relation to local authority Traveller accommodation programmes 2014-2018. [29196/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

In accordance with the Housing (Traveller Accommodation) Act 1998, housing authorities have statutory responsibility for the assessment of the accommodation needs of Travellers and the preparation, adoption and implementation of multi-annual Traveller Accommodation Programmes (TAPs) in their areas.  My Department’s role is to ensure that there are adequate structures and supports in place to assist the authorities in providing such accommodation, including a national framework of policy, legislation and funding. 

The content of local authority development plans is governed by Section 10 of the Planning and Development Act 2000 (as amended) , which obliges plans to include objectives for, inter alia, the provision of accommodation for Travellers, and the use of particular areas for that purpose.  Guidelines prepared by my Department to assist local authorities in the preparation of development plans state that the land-use aspects of adopted Traveller Accommodation Programmes should be reflected in the development plan. This should take the form of objectives that clearly set out the approach of the development plan in addressing the accommodation needs of Travellers and an indication of the specific locations of Traveller accommodation projects. The guidelines also advise that to support the identification of additional locations for such projects, zoning policies should be drawn up in a flexible manner to reflect the urgent need to secure additional Traveller accommodation over the lifetime of the development plan.

Water and Sewerage Schemes Grants

Questions (836)

Robert Troy

Question:

836. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if funding will be granted for works to a group water scheme (details supplied). [29207/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

On 8 February this year, I announced details of the measures being funded through my Department under the Multi-annual Rural Water Programme 2019-2021. 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.

Westmeath County Council has included the scheme 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 coming weeks.

Housing Assistance Payment Administration

Questions (837)

James Browne

Question:

837. Deputy James Browne asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the position regarding HAP tenants who must pay a higher weekly rent if they receive half rate carer’s allowance in addition to disability allowance; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29215/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

The Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) scheme is a flexible and immediate housing support that is available to all eligible households throughout the State. At the end of Quarter 1 2019, there were just over 45,900 households having their housing needs met via HAP.  

HAP tenants are required to sign a rent contribution agreement to pay a weekly rental contribution to the local authority, in line with the local authority’s differential rent scheme for social housing tenants more generally. 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.

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 such schemes is an executive function and is subject to broad principles laid down 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; and

- 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.

Each local authority has its own separate differential rent scheme or schemes in operation. As rent is calculated using each local authority’s own formula, the schemes do vary in a number of ways from each other. This is particularly the case when it comes to what may or may not be considered as reckonable/assessable income for rent purposes e.g., disability allowance and carer's allowance.

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. I hope to finalise this matter by the end of Q3 2019.

Traveller Accommodation

Questions (838)

Kevin O'Keeffe

Question:

838. Deputy Kevin O'Keeffe asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the status of a project (details supplied); and the number of permanent dwelling and demountable dwellings provided. [29262/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

In accordance with the Housing (Traveller Accommodation) Act 1998, housing authorities have statutory responsibility for the assessment of the accommodation needs of Travellers and the preparation, adoption and implementation of multi-annual Traveller Accommodation Programmes (TAPs) in their areas.  My Department’s role is to ensure that there are adequate structures and supports in place to assist the authorities in providing such accommodation, including a national framework of policy, legislation and funding.

A proposal was received by my Department from Cork County Council  to carry out upgrade works at the site concerned through the construction of 2 bungalows and 5 permanent halting bays.  Following consultation, approval for these works was granted by my Department in June 2019.

Tenant Purchase Scheme Eligibility

Questions (839)

James Browne

Question:

839. Deputy James Browne asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government his plans to change the tenant purchase scheme to allow tenants with only social welfare income to qualify for the scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29264/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

The Housing (Sale of Local Authority Houses) Regulations 2015, provide the basis for 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 minimum reckonable income for eligibility under the scheme is determined by the relevant local authority in accordance with the detailed provisions of the Ministerial Direction issued under Sections 24(3) and (4) of the 2014 Act. In the determination of the minimum reckonable income, local authorities can include income from a number of different sources and classes, such as from employment, private pensions, maintenance payments and certain social welfare payments, including pensions, where the social welfare payment is secondary to employment income.

The minimum income criterion was introduced in order to ensure the sustainability of the scheme.  Applicants must demonstrate that they have an income that is long-term and sustainable in nature. This ensures that the tenant purchasing the house is in a financial position, as the owner, to maintain and insure the property for the duration of the charged period, in compliance with the conditions of the order transferring the ownership of, and responsibility for, the house from the local authority to the tenant.

It should be noted that the financing of any house sold under the Tenant (Incremental) Purchase Scheme is a separate matter from the eligibility criteria for the scheme.  If the tenant is deemed eligible under the scheme, he or she may fund the purchase of a house from one, or a combination, of his/her own resources or a mortgage provided by a financial institution or a local authority house purchase loan.

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. 

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. Following consideration of a number of implementation issues arising, in that context, I expect to be in a position to publish the Review.

Approved Housing Bodies

Questions (840)

Eoin Ó Broin

Question:

840. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the steps he is taking to secure the reclassification of the approved housing body sector as off balance sheet; the number of meetings held by his officials; the number of meetings held with officials from the Department of Finance on the issue; the number of meetings his officials have had with the approved housing body sector since the EUROSTAT reclassification; and the details of these meetings by date and organisations met. [29343/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

My Department is continuing its work on the issue of reclassification by EUROSTAT, of the majority of Tier 3 Approved Housing Bodies as part of the Government sector for accounting purposes.

It is engaging with the Departments of Finance and Public Expenditure and Reform, with technical support from the Housing Finance Agency (HFA) and the Housing Agency (HA), in order to ensure that AHBs can continue to fulfil their full potential in the delivery of the targets set out in the Rebuilding Ireland Action Plan.

My Department regularly meets with AHBs and AHB representative bodies where the issue of reclassification is discussed. Recently, my Department met with the ICSH on 11 June 2019 and a meeting is scheduled to take place on 24 July 2019 with the Housing Alliance. My Department has met with the Department of Finance twice for the specific purpose of discussing reclassification since the EUROSTAT decision was made.

The sector itself has engaged its own research on the matter, and has put forward its own proposals. My Department is evaluating these proposals as part of its ongoing consideration of the issue and with regard to their potential wider implications.

Notwithstanding the decision by EUROSTAT, the Government continues to see a central role for the voluntary housing sector in contributing to delivery of social housing under Rebuilding Ireland. It is committed to using all mechanisms and schemes, including through the AHB sector, to ensure that we maintain the momentum towards meeting the ambitious 50,000 social housing target under the Action Plan.

Legislative Measures

Questions (841)

Catherine Connolly

Question:

841. Deputy Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the status of the Marine Planning and Development Management Bill; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29369/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

The Marine Planning and Development Management Bill evolved from the Maritime Area and Foreshore (Amendment) Bill on foot of legal advice received from the Attorney General in November 2018.   Revised proposals for a more comprehensive, holistic and robust approach to State consenting and development management in the Maritime Area are being developed jointly with my colleague, the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment.  It is intended to revert to Government with proposals for a revised General Scheme of the Bill shortly.

Local Authority Staff

Questions (842)

Thomas Byrne

Question:

842. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the local authorities which have appointed a dedicated vacant house officer, in tabular form. [29372/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

All 31 local authorities have designated vacant homes officers within their respective functional areas, some of whom may also perform other duties, as local circumstances require. My Department continues to engage on an ongoing basis with local authorities with a view to progressing measures to bring as many vacant and underutilised properties as possible back into residential use.

Vacant homes officers also act as a central point of contact and to provide information and advice for owners of vacant homes and also to deal with queries from members of the public in respect of private residential vacant properties in their administrative area. 

A list of the contact details for each vacant homes officer is available on my Department's website at the following link: https://www.housing.gov.ie/housing/home-ownership/vacant-homes/vacant-homes-officer-contacts.

Departmental Advertising Expenditure

Questions (843)

Peadar Tóibín

Question:

843. Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the amount spent on digital marketing in each of the past eight years; the items on which funds were spent; the criteria by which target audiences were selected; the amount of the digital spend targeted here; the amount targeted abroad; the amount that related to private companies; the amount that related to policy initiatives; and the purpose of the digital advertisements. [29395/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

My Department has collated the information presented in the table below in relation to digital marketing and advertising. My Department uses digital advertising, across social media and other websites, to reach the public and different stakeholders in various information campaigns. This reflects the diverse media through which the public, stakeholders and businesses access information and advertising.

-

Purpose of the digital advertisements

Amount spent on digital advertising

Items on which funds were spent

Criteria by which target audiences were selected

Amount of the digital spend targeted at people in Ireland

Amount of the digital spend targeted at people abroad

Amount that related to private companies

Amount that related to policy initiatives

2019

To promote the schemes available to owners of vacant properties to bring them back into liveable use

€750.00

Facebook , Twitter and Irish Property Owners Association Ezines

The IPOA Ezine is the official newsletter for the Irish Property Owners' Association and the Residential Landlords' Association of Ireland Organisation. The target audience is owners of vacant properties. 

€750

€0

€750

€750

Promote awareness of the public consultation of proposed reform of the electoral modernisation process

€20,185.94

Website and online advertising; Twitter; Facebook; Search optimisation;

Premium media sites selected to reach public stakeholders

€20,185.94

€0

€20,185.94

€20,185.94

Promotion of Met Eireann's new podcast series

€200

Facebook and Twitter

€200

€0

€200

€200

Promotion of Department produced video on the referendum process in Ireland

€508

Facebook

Objective of informing the general public about how referendums are run in Ireland

€508

€0

€508

€508

Promoted social media posts regarding short-term lettings

€422

Facebook and Twitter

Targeted at individuals living in Ireland aged 18-65

€422

€0

€422

€422

2019 Total

€22,065.94

€22,065.94

€0

€22,065.94

€22,065.94

2018

To promote fire safety messaging

€9,196.62

Facebook

Messaging targeted at all age groups

€9,196.62

€0

€9,196.62

€9,196.62

Recruitment for specialist positions within Met Eireann

€447.66

Meteorologist and Hydrometeorologist job advertisements

Primary online portal in Europe for meteorological job vacancies

Not differentiated

Not differentiated

€0

€0

Local Electoral Area Boundary Reviews

€6,509

Online advertising

Premium media sites selected to reach public stakeholders

€6,509

€0

€6,509

€6,509

Register of electors awareness campaign

€13,665.84

Online advertising

General national awareness campaign

€13,665.84

 €0

13,665.84

13,665.84

2018

€29,819.12

€29,371.46

€0

€29,371.46

€29,371.46

2017

To promote fire safety messaging

€8,487.00

Facebook, Twitter

Messaging targeted at all age groups

€8,487.00

€0

€8,487.00

€8,487.00

Campaign primarily focused on landlords, aimed at: 1. Generating awareness for Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) scheme and its advantages for landlords; 2. Encouraging landlords to contact HAP local authorities directly; 3. Through informing and engaging, help facilitate landlords to rent their properties through HAP.

€18,990.00

Advertising on Facebook, Twitter, Daft.ie and thejournal.ie

HAP digital media campaign focused on Dublin. 

€18,990.00

€0

€18,990.00

€18,990.00

Register of electors awareness campaign

€12,699.75

Online advertising

General national awareness campaign

€12,699.75

€0

€12,699.75

€12,699.75

Information campaign aimed at property owners with vacant properties who wish to bring them back into use

€10,783.23

Social media advertising

Aimed at property owners with vacant properties who wish to bring them back into use

€10,783.23

€0

€10,783.23

€10,783.23

Raise awareness of HAP

€8,265

Facebook, Twitter, Daft.ie and thejournal.ie

Raise awareness among the public

€8,265

€0

€8,265

€8,265

Recruitment for specialist positions within Met Eireann

€1,045.50

Chief Hydrometeorologist and Senior Database Specialist job advertisements

At the recommendation of the Public Appointments Service (PAS)

Not differentiated

Not differentiated

€1,045.50

€0

Promotion of the Local Infrastructure Housing Activation Fund

€3,690.00

Digital promotion of online content

Awareness raising of the fund

€3,690.00

€0

€3,690.00

€3,690.00

2017 Total

€63,960.48

€62,914.98

€0

€63,960.48

€62,914.98

2016

To promote fire safety messaging

€9,594.00

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram Stories

Messaging targeted all age groups

€9,594.00

€0

€9,594.00

€9,594.00

Register of Electors awareness campaign  

€11,712.68

Online advertising

General national awareness campaign

€11,712.68

€0

€11,712.68

€11,712.68

Rebuilding Ireland

€4,797.00

social media advertising for launch of Action Plan; digital distribution of online content regarding Pillar 1 of Rebuilding Ireland

Awareness raising

€4,797.00

€0

€4,797.00

€4,797.00

2016 Total

€26,103.68

€26,103.68

€0

€26,103.68

€26,103.68

2015

To promote fire safety messaging

€2,337.00

Facebook, Twitter

Messaging targeted all age groups

€2,337.00

€0

€2,337.00

€2,337.00

Register of Electors awareness campaign  

€5,903.50

Online advertising (online awareness campaign, development of leaderboard)

General national awareness campaign

€5,903.50

€0

€5,903.50

€5,903.50

2015 Total

€8,240.50

€8,240.50

€0

€8,240.50

€8,240.50

2014

To promote fire safety messaging

€2,460.00

YouTube

Messaging targeted all age groups

€2,460.00

€0

€2,460.00

€2,460.00

Register of Electors awareness campaign  

€10,468.53

Online advertising (online adverts, designworks)

General national awareness campaign

€10,468.53

€0

€10,468.53

€10,468.53

2014 Total

€12,928.53

€12,928.53

€0

€12,928.53

€12,928.53

2013

Register of Electors awareness campaign  

€16,208.94

Online advertising (online hosting, online campaign, creation of online ads)

General national awareness campaign

€16,208.94

€0

€16,208.94

€16,208.94

2012

€0

€0

€0

€0

€0

Social and Affordable Housing Eligibility

Questions (844, 845)

Declan Breathnach

Question:

844. Deputy Declan Breathnach asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the reason maintenance payments in divorce settlements are classed as disposable income (details supplied). [29418/19]

View answer

Declan Breathnach

Question:

845. Deputy Declan Breathnach asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the reason social housing assessment regulations place County Louth in band 2 of the maximum net income threshold at €30,000 (details supplied); the reason counties Meath, Kildare and Wicklow are placed with the Dublin local authorities in band 1 while County Louth is in band 2; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29420/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 844 and 845 together.

Applications for social housing support are assessed by the relevant local authority, in accordance with the eligibility and need criteria set down in section 20 of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009 and the associated Social Housing Assessment Regulations 2011, as amended. 

The 2011 Regulations prescribe maximum net income limits for each local authority, in different bands according to the area concerned, with income being defined and assessed according to a standard Household Means Policy. The 2011 Regulations do not provide local authorities with any discretion to exceed the limits that apply to their administrative areas.

Under the Household Means Policy, which applies in all local authorities, net income for social housing assessment is defined as gross household income less income tax, PRSI and the universal social charge. The Policy provides for a range of income disregards, and local authorities also have discretion to decide to disregard income that is temporary, short-term or once off in nature. There is no provision in the policy to deduct any other regular outgoings, such as maintenance paid in respect of family members, from gross household income for the purposes of the income threshold.

The income bands and the authority area assigned to each band were based on an assessment of the income needed to provide for a household's basic needs, plus a comparative analysis of the local rental cost of housing accommodation across the country. It is important to note that the limits introduced at that time also reflected a blanket increase of €5,000 introduced prior to the new system coming into operation, in order to broaden the base from which social housing tenants are drawn, both promoting sustainable communities and also providing a degree of future-proofing.

Given the cost to the State of providing social housing, it is considered prudent and fair to direct resources to those most in need of social housing support. The current income eligibility requirements generally achieve this, providing for a fair and equitable system of identifying those households facing the greatest challenge in meeting their accommodation needs from their own resources.

However, as part of the broader social housing reform agenda, a review of income eligibility for social housing supports in each local authority area is under way. The review will also have regard to current initiatives being brought forward in terms of affordability and cost rental and will be completed when the impacts of these parallel initiatives have been considered.

Departmental Expenditure

Questions (846, 849)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

846. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the costs paid to companies (details supplied) for projects in respect of which each was engaged by his Department in each of the years 2015 to 2018 and to date in 2019, in tabular form; the reason each was engaged; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29446/19]

View answer

Catherine Murphy

Question:

849. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the costs paid to a company (details supplied) for projects in respect of which each was engaged by his Department in each of the years 2015 to 2018 and to date in 2019, in tabular form; the reason it was engaged; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29555/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 846 and 849 together.

Details of the costs paid to those of the companies concerned that have been engaged by my Department during the period in question, and the reasons for those engagements, are set out in the accompanying table.

PQ 29466/19 and PQ 29555/19

Year

Company

Costs Paid

Reason

2015

Arthur Cox

€20,766.73

Provision of legal advice

2015

Deloitte

(Deloitte & Touche)

€28,939

Business Case Review for the Housing Assistance Payment

2015

Mazars Consulting

€27,075

Independent Review of Homeless Services

2017

A&L Goodbody Solicitors Ltd.

€23,985

Report on Water Abstractions.

2017

Arthur Cox

€33,070.27

Provision of legal advice

2018

Arthur Cox

€284,255.89

Provision of legal advice

2018

Mazars

€163,144.34

Provision of Accounting Audit of Financial Services

2018

KPMG

€49,721

Provision of corporate finance advisory services in relation to the establishment of the Land Development Agency

2019

Arthur Cox

€133,395.65

Professional Fees and provision of legal advice

2019

A&L Goodbody Solicitors Ltd.

€23,985

Report on Water Abstractions

2019

KPMG

€172,200

Provision of corporate finance advisory services in relation to the establishment of the Land Development Agency.

Rent Pressure Zones

Questions (847)

Michael McGrath

Question:

847. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if his attention has been drawn to the fact that further to the announcement of additional rent pressure zone areas on 2 July 2019, the part of Carrigaline, County Cork not in the former Ballincollig-Carrigaline local electoral area is still not in a rent pressure zone; if the anomaly will be corrected; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29477/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

Ballincollig- Carrigaline Local Electoral Area (LEA) was designated a Rent Pressure Zone (RPZ)  on 27 January 2017 under section 24 of the Residential Tenancies Acts (2004-2019).

New Local Electoral Areas and Municipal Districts were signed into law on 31 January 2019 for Cork City and County (which took into account the expanded Cork City boundary) for the May 2019 local elections.  The new LEAs and Municipal Districts see the old Ballincollig-Carrigaline LEA being split, with Ballincollig becoming part of Cork City Council. Carrigaline and its hinterland are now contained within its own LEA and Municipal District, which is wholly within the remit of Cork County Council.  

The areas within the new Carrigaline LEA which were designated as a RPZ under the old Ballincollig- Carrigaline LEA remain designated as a RPZ under section 24A(6) of the Residential Tenancies Acts, which provides that  “Where a local electoral area is prescribed by order as a rent pressure zone and, subsequently, any local electoral areas are duly amended in a manner that affects the area of the local electoral area so prescribed, then the order shall continue to have effect as if the local electoral area concerned had not been so amended.”  

Therefore, under Section 24A(6), areas already designated as RPZs will remain designated and areas that are not designated nor due to become part of Cork City Council will retain their current undesignated status.  Areas within the new Carrigaline LEA that were not previously designated as a RPZ remain undesignated.  

Under the Residential Tenancies (Amendment) Act 2019 the expiry date of all deemed and designated RPZs is extended to 31 December 2021. The Act further provides that any area falling within the new Cork City Council boundary, which is not already within a RPZ, will be a RPZ from 31 May 2019.  

The Housing Agency and the RTB will continue to monitor national rents and if the Carrigaline LEA meets the designation criteria it will be designated as a RPZ.

Rent Pressure Zones

Question No. 849 answered with Question No. 846.

Questions (848)

Peadar Tóibín

Question:

848. Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the person of body tasked with the enforcement of the rent pressure zones; the number of staff with the job of enforcement; the amount spent on enforcement; and the reason rent increases in the rent pressure zones are far higher than the cap. [29493/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

The Residential Tenancies (Amendment) Act 2019, enacted on 24 May 2019, introduces a number of measures designed to enhance the enforcement powers of the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) and underpin further the operation of the Rent Pressure Zone (RPZ) arrangements. The main provisions in the Act relate to :

- Making it a criminal offence for landlords to implement rent increases that contravene the law, that do not adhere to new definitions of a substantial change, failure to cooperate with an investigation, failure to register and update tenancies with the RTB.

- Providing powers to the RTB to investigate and sanction landlords who engage in improper conduct including non-compliance with the rent increase restriction in RPZs.

- Allowing the RTB to initiate an investigation without the need for a complaint to be made.

 The exemptions from the 4% p.a. rent increase restriction in RPZs have been revised so to apply only to the first rent setting, rather than to every rent setting, during the period of RPZ designation in respect of a new rental property, including a property that had not been rented in the 2 year period immediately prior to the commencement of a particular tenancy.

 A definition is also provided to illustrate the type of works that qualify for the exemption from the rent increase restriction in respect of a substantial change in the nature of the rental property

 There are a number of reasons why the average rent in RPZs may be higher than the 4% rent increase cap, such as exemptions for properties that are new to the market and/or properties that  have undergone substantial change as well as possible non-compliance with the legislation. The introduction of the RTB's new powers of investigation and the related sanctions regime, which came into effect from 1 July 2019, will allow the RTB to investigate, sanction and enforce where non compliance is found. A number of authorised officers have been recruited and are now in place along with management and support staff.  Additional resources will join the team following a recruitment campaign. The RTB are  now accepting cases where improper conduct suspected.  

 Increased Exchequer funding of over €7m was secured for 2019 for RTB operational costs to provide for the rising demand for RTB services and the implementation of the new functions contained in the RTA 2019 Act.  This is 60% higher than the 2018 provision of just under €4.4m. 

 The deployment of staff within the RTB to particular functions is a matter for the RTB itself. However, arrangements have been put in place to facilitate the provision of information by State Bodies to members of the Oireachtas and, in that regard, the RTB may be contacted at OireachtasMembersQueries@rtb.ie.

Question No. 849 answered with Question No. 846.

Housing Adaptation Grant Data

Questions (850)

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

850. Deputy Fergus O'Dowd asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of grants paid by each local authority to enable home adaptations to facilitate persons with disabilities or older persons live in or return to their homes from acute hospitals in each of the past three years; the average grant paid per local authority for each of the past three years; the average contribution per applicant; the length of waiting time from application to payment of grant in each of the past three years; if a panel of approved builders has been developed for each local authority; if so, the criteria for such approval; and if consideration will be given to establishing a working group with the Department of Health, the HSE, relevant non-government organisations and organisations (details supplied) to facilitate faster transfers of care from acute hospitals to homes in which physical environment adaptations are required. [29651/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

My Department provides funding under the suite of Housing Adaptation Grants for Older People and People with a Disability, to assist people in private houses to make their accommodation more suitable for their needs.  Details on the number of grants paid and the amount spent for the past three years by all local authorities, are available on my Department's website at the following link: https://www.housing.gov.ie/housing/statistics/social-and-affordble/other-local-authority-housing-scheme-statistics

The average grant paid per local authority can also be obtained from this information.

The detailed administration of the grants including their assessment, approval and prioritisation, is the responsibility of the local authorities. My Department does not hold information in relation to the average contribution per applicant or the waiting times for individual local authorities.  This information may be available directly from the local authorities.

A panel of approved builders has not been developed for each local authority, as responsibility for engaging tradespeople rests solely with the applicant.  However, some local authorities have an informal list of local contractors who have completed grant related work.  This list is not endorsed by local authorities and is merely intended to assist applicants if requested. 

My Department has previously requested that all local authorities establish contact with the hospitals/convalescent homes in their area in relation to the administration of the grants and to prioritise applications from eligible applicants, whose discharge from hospital is dependent on the timely adaptation of their homes. My Department has also met recently with all local authorities where this practice was discussed and it is planned to develop this service further as a priority, in conjunction with other relevant stakeholders.

Local Authority Housing Funding

Questions (851)

Brendan Griffin

Question:

851. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if funding approval will be provided to Kerry County Council to purchase houses (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29658/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

My Department has not received a request for funding to date from Kerry County Council for the purchase of either of the properties for which details are provided.  The identification of suitable opportunities for the provision of new social housing is a matter for each local authority in the first instance and they must satisfy themselves as to the suitability of a property and its compliance with building regulations and other compliances.