Friday, 6 September 2019

Questions (1999)

John Curran

Question:

1999. Deputy John Curran asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the amount of funding drawn down by local authorities for the serviced sites fund to date; the number of affordable homes that have been provided under the scheme; the qualifying criteria to be eligible for an affordable home; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36565/19]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

In order to support the delivery of affordable homes to buy or rent, the Government has committed €310 million under the Serviced Sites Fund (SSF), from 2019 to 2021 to provide infrastructure support for the delivery of over 6,000 affordable homes. The first call for proposals under the SSF issued in June 2018 and was specifically targeted at 11 local authorities, where the greatest affordability pressures exists. In December 2018, approval in principle was announced for funding for 10 infrastructure projects, in Dublin and Cork, with an allocated budget of €43 million. This will support the delivery of approximately 1,400 affordable homes. The overall cost and the timing of delivery for these projects is contingent upon the completion of design, planning and procurement in the first instance, and local authorities are working to achieve delivery as quickly as possible. Details of these projects are available on the Rebuilding Ireland website at the following link: https://rebuildingireland.ie/news/minister-murphy-approves-10-local-authority-sites-affordable-housing-serviced-sites-fund/

Following the first call under the SSF, and in order to target affordable interventions, local authorities were asked to complete financial/economic assessments of each of their sites to assess whether the provision of affordable homes is economically viable. Local authorities were also asked to assess the broader housing affordability within their area. A second call for proposals under the SSF was issued on 9 April 2019 to 19 local authorities, based on the aforementioned economic assessments submitted.

31 submissions were received from 15 local authorities under this second call. On 6 August 2019, I announced approval in principle for 25 of these projects across 13 local authorities, with a significant funding commitment of €84 million for infrastructure that will support the delivery of over 1,770 affordable homes. Details of the particular projects involved are available on the Rebuilding Ireland website at the following link: https://rebuildingireland.ie/news/minister-murphy-approves-funding-of-e84m-to-support-delivery-of-1770-affordable-homes-under-the-ssf/.

To date, funding of €127 million in support has been allocated for infrastructure works that will support the delivery of almost 3,200 affordable homes under the scheme.

While one Serviced Site Fund project, which is supporting the development of 55 Cost Rental Units at Enniskerry Road, Dublin, has just gone on site, it should be noted that all other projects are currently at the stages of design and planning and, accordingly, local authorities are not yet drawing down allocated funds. Indeed, I anticipate that the bulk of expenditure will only arise as projects reach the construction phase. My Department will continue to engage pro-actively with local authorities to help progress SSF projects and to achieve a full drawdown of the available funding.

With regard to the qualifying criteria for the purchase of an affordable home, the Affordable Dwelling Purchase Scheme is primarily aimed at low to middle income households who are first time buyers. The scheme is underpinned by the relevant provisions of Part 5 of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009, which I commenced in June 2018.

On 12 March 2019, I signed the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009 (Part 5) Regulations 2019 (S.I. No 81 of 2019), which deals the preparation of a 'Scheme of Priority' by each local authority. The purpose of a Scheme of Priority is to set out the affordable purchase arrangements at local authority level. This includes the methodology that will be applied to determine the order of priority to be accorded to eligible households in instances where the demand for such affordable dwellings exceeds the number that are available.

Further regulations will be made in respect of Part 5 of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009 later this year, specifically in relation to the assessment of eligibility for affordable homes and the setting of income limits. These will be in place before affordable homes become available.