Rental Sector

Questions (1153, 1154, 1155, 1156)

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

1153. Deputy Jan O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the average length of a private rental tenancy here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44985/19]

View answer

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

1154. Deputy Jan O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the outcome of the tender process that was conducted in 2016 for a deposit protection scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44986/19]

View answer

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

1155. Deputy Jan O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the average cost for mediation, an adjudication and a tribunal provided via the Residential Tenancies Board; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44987/19]

View answer

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

1156. Deputy Jan O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of unlawfully retained deposits that the Residential Tenancies Board ordered landlords to return to tenants in each of the years 2015 to 2018, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44991/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 1153 to 1156, inclusive, together.

My Department does not hold or collate the information referred to in the Questions.

The Clerk of the Dáil requested that arrangements be put in place to facilitate the provision of information by State Bodies to members of the Oireachtas. Following the issue of Circular LG (P)05/16 on 20 September 2016 from my Department, the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) set up a dedicated email address for this purpose. The RTB may be contacted at OireachtasMembersQueries@rtb.ie to establish the extent to which it may hold the information sought.

Public Procurement Contracts Data

Questions (1157)

Mattie McGrath

Question:

1157. Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the details of contracts of €25,000 or more that have been awarded by his Department or bodies under his aegis that were found to be non-compliant with procurement guidelines in 2017, 2018 and to date in 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45067/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

Details of the contracts referred to by the Deputy are published in the annual Appropriation Accounts. The account for 2017 is available at: https://www.audit.gov.ie/en/Find-Report/Publications/2018/vote-34.pdf while that for 2018 is available at: https://www.audit.gov.ie/en/Find-Report/Publications/2019/Vote-34-Housing-Planning-and-Local-Government.pdf.

In summary, my Department complied with the guidelines with the exception of five contracts in 2017 totalling €425,388 (excluding VAT) and eight in 2018 totalling €770,842.

The exceptions generally occurred for reasons of urgency or where an existing contract was rolled over, pending completion of a new procurement process.

Information in relation to 2019 will only become available following completion of the Appropriation Account for 2019 and the assessment of that account by the Comptroller and Auditor General.

Information in relation to contracts awarded by agencies under the aegis of my Department is an operational matter for each agency. Arrangements have been put in place by each agency to facilitate the provision of information by State Bodies directly to members of the Oireachtas. The contact email address for each agency is in the table below.

Body under the aegis of the DHPLG

Agency Email

An Bord Pleanála

Oireachtasqueries@pleanala.ie

Ervia, Gas Networks Ireland

oireachtas@ervia.ie

Housing Finance Agency

oireachtas.enquiries@hfa.ie

Housing and Sustainable Communities Agency (Housing Agency)

publicreps@housingagency.ie

Irish Water

oireachtasmembers@water.ie

Land Development Agency

info@lda.ie

Local Government Management Agency

corporate@lgma.ie

Office of the Planning Regulator

info@opr.ie

Ordnance Survey Ireland

Oireachtas@osi.ie

Property Registration Authority

reps@prai.ie

Pyrite Resolution Board

oireachtasinfo@pyriteboard.ie

Residential Tenancies Board

OireachtasMembersQueries@rtb.ie

Valuation Office

oireachtas.enquiries@VALOFF.ie

Homelessness Strategy

Questions (1158)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

1158. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the timeline to reduce and end homelessness here greatly. [45147/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

Addressing homelessness is an absolute priority for the Government. Rebuilding Ireland, the Government’s Action Plan on Housing and Homelessness, 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. In 2018, 8,000 new social homes were delivered nationally and this year, a further 10,000 new social homes will be delivered.

Budget 2020 has increased funding available to local authorities to provide homeless accommodation and related services to €166m, an increase of €20m on this year’s budget. While the priority is to support families to secure a home, the Government is also committed to ensuring that appropriate emergency accommodation is available until a home can be provided. In this regard, the Government is providing funding to local authorities to develop and operate family hubs. To date, 29 family hubs have been developed nationally, providing almost 680 units of family accommodation.

In addition, the National Implementation Plan for Housing First is being implemented to address the needs of those individuals sleeping rough or long term users of emergency accommodation. Housing First enables homeless individuals with high levels of complex needs to obtain permanent secure accommodation with the provision of intensive housing and health supports to help them maintain their tenancies. The Plan contains targets for each local authority, with an overall national target of 663 tenancies to be delivered by 2021. The implementation of the Plan is a joint initiative of the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government, the Department of Health, the HSE and the local authorities.

Rebuilding Ireland is delivering permanent solutions as new homes are delivered and house building is increasing at a significant rate. Under Rebuilding Ireland results are being achieved in supporting exits from homelessness. In 2018, 5,135 adults exited homelessness into homes, an 8.6% increase on 2017. I expect that the numbers of exits from homelessness will increase again in 2019.

Social and Affordable Housing Provision

Questions (1159)

Thomas Byrne

Question:

1159. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government his plans to provide more social housing in County Meath. [45189/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

Housing is a key Government priority, as can be seen with almost €2.4 billion being provided in 2019 for all housing programmes - this is a 25% increase on the 2018 allocation. The level of progress being made is reflected in social housing waiting lists, which have reduced by 26% nationally, from 91,600 households to just over 68,000 between 2016 and 2019.

In 2018, Meath County Council delivered 437 social housing homes through build, acquisition and leasing programmes, with an additional 767 households being supported through HAP and RAS, resulting in the needs of over 1,200 households being met across all delivery schemes in 2018. In 2019, as of the end of Quarter 2, this figure stands at 465 across all delivery streams. Since 2016 to the end of Quarter 2 of 2019, more than 3,400 households in County Meath have had their housing needs met.

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 Quarter 2 of 2019 and contains information on the progress of over 22,139 new social housing homes, which are currently approved and progressing through planning, design and construction, as well as homes delivered to the end of Quarter 2 of 2019. This report is available at https://rebuildingireland.ie/news/minister-murphy-publishes-social-housing-construction-status-report-for-q2-2019-2/.

The report shows that Meath County Council - and the Approved Housing Bodies they are working with - have a social housing construction programme of 82 projects already complete or at planning, design, tender or construction stage, which will deliver 1,056 homes when complete. This programme continues to be added to on an ongoing basis. I have assured all local authorities, including Meath County Council, that funding is available to support their activity in delivering on their social housing targets.

Question No. 1160 answered with Question No. 30.

Commercial Rates

Questions (1161)

Niamh Smyth

Question:

1161. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the status of plans to deal with the rising cost of business rates in rural Ireland; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38582/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

As Minister with special responsibility for Local Government and having served as a member of Kilkenny County Council, I understand the vital role local businesses play in supporting local authorities to deliver services to their communities. Commercial rates, at approximately €1.5bn per annum, make up roughly a third of local government current (revenue) income.

Recognising the critical importance of commercial rates, I prioritised the Local Government Rates and Other Matters Act 2019 and it was enacted earlier this year. The Act modernises the rates system for both ratepayers and local authorities.

Local authorities are required by legislation to levy rates on any property used for commercial purposes, in accordance with the details entered in the valuation lists prepared by the independent Commissioner of Valuation under the Valuation Acts 2001 to 2015.

The annual rate on valuation (ARV) is decided by the elected members of each local authority in the annual budget and its determination is a reserved function. The ARV is then applied to each property’s valuation to obtain the amount payable in rates.

The independent Commissioner for Valuation is currently conducting a national programme of revaluation to provide consistent, up-to-date valuations so that rates are equitably distributed. Revaluation results in a redistribution of the commercial rates liability between ratepayers. While an individual occupier’s rates liability may increase or decrease, the revaluation will not increase the overall commercial rates income of the local authority. It is not the purpose of a revaluation to increase the commercial rates collected.

After a revaluation of a local authority area the Minister is required to make a Rates Limitation Order (RLO) to ensure that the overall rates collected in that area for the following year, does not increase beyond normal inflation and buoyancy to take account of new valuations. RLOs have been made for each of the 16 local authorities that have undergone a revaluation to date and will be made in the coming weeks in respect of the eight local authorities where revaluations concluded this year.

The final tranche of revaluations should be completed by 2021. At all stages of the process, ratepayers are consulted and informed and can bring relevant information to bear on the valuation. Ultimately ratepayers have a right of appeal to the Valuation Tribunal. In terms of revaluations to date, I understand that the trend is that approximately 60% of ratepayers have experienced a decrease.

Local authorities work closely with ratepayers experiencing difficulties with the payment of commercial rates. In this regard, local authorities may facilitate the payment of commercial rates by instalments, and work with businesses to put in place flexible payment options. The Local Government Rates and Other Matters Act 2019 will further facilitate such flexible approaches, provided ratepayers engage with the local authority concerned.

Importantly, the Act also provides for rates alleviation schemes, to be decided by local authority members in order to promote national and/or local policy objectives, including for example, the implementation of the Government's Realising Our Rural Potential: The Action Plan for Rural Development.

My Department recently wrote to all local authorities highlighting the new alleviation provisions, contained in the 2019 Act, indicating that the work in respect of commencing Section 15, is underway. Local authorities were further advised that if they plan to implement an alleviation scheme in 2020, they should make a provision in their budget.

Nitrates Usage

Questions (1162)

Niamh Smyth

Question:

1162. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if he will consider extending the slurry spreading deadline in counties Cavan and Monaghan as a special case due to flooding; if he has had discussions with the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine on same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41974/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

The European Union (Good Agricultural Practice for Protection of Waters) Regulations 2017, as amended, give legal effect in Ireland to the Nitrates Directive and to our Nitrates Action Programme. The Nitrates Directive requires all member states to define set periods when the land application of fertiliser, including slurry, is not allowed and in Ireland the closed season commenced on 15 October.

The closed periods for land application of fertiliser in Ireland were decided following extensive consultation and were discussed with farming bodies and the European Commission as Ireland introduced the Nitrates Action Programme. The provisions of the Regulations are underpinned by scientific research and good agricultural practice. The most recent scientific studies carried out on a diverse range of farm and soil types as part of Teagasc’s ongoing Agricultural Catchments Programme have provided further evidence in support of regulating spreading periods as an effective means of reducing nutrient losses to waters.

The closed period protects water from pollution by excessive fertilisers flowing from farmland into surface water and groundwater.

While there have been some challenging weather conditions across the country, particularly in August and September, and including conditions in counties Cavan and Monaghan, farmers are required to provide sufficient slurry storage. In the lead up to the start of the closed period in October 2019, my Department kept this issue under review – in close consultation with the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine - and it was considered that changes should not be made to the slurry spreading deadline.

In cases of animal welfare issues arising from tanks that have reached capacity, the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine operates an animal welfare helpline Lo-call 076 1064408, along with a dedicated email address, AnimalWelfare@agriculture.gov.ie. Farmers contacting the helpline will be advised to provide details of animal welfare issues, their herd number and other relevant data.

Local Authority Funding

Questions (1163)

Anne Rabbitte

Question:

1163. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the level of funding provided to each local authority in each of the years 2016 to 2018 and to date in 2019, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45206/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

Local authorities derive their income from a variety of sources including commercial rates, charges for goods and services and funding from Central Government. Central Government funding of local authorities includes transfers, both current and capital, from a range of Departments and Offices for a variety of purposes. Some streams of funding are delivered directly from funding departments to local authorities, while others are routed through departmental agencies.

The Comptroller and Auditor General (C&AG) publishes a report on the central government funding of local government. The most recent report refers to 2018 and is available at the following link:

https://www.audit.gov.ie/en/Find-Report/Publications/Report%20on%20the%20Accounts%20of%20the%20Public%20Services/Report%20on%20the%20Accounts%20of%20the%20Public%20Services%202018.html .

The tables below detail funding to local authorities from my Department as it was configured in each year from 2016 to 31 August 2019. The figures include funding from the Departmental Vote (as it was configured in that year), the Local Government Fund and the Environment Fund (until October 2016), when responsibility for the Environment Fund transferred to the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and the Environment.

Details of local property tax payments to local authorities which are included in the Local Government Fund are available on my Department's website at the following link:

https://www.housing.gov.ie/housing/chargestaxes/local-property-tax/local-property-tax.

Payments from Departmental Vote

LOCAL AUTHORITY

2016

2017

2018

to 30 Aug 2019

CARLOW

€ 13,026,204.52

€ 18,395,673.22

€ 23,758,027.84

€ 16,584,698.07

CAVAN

€ 8,799,462.04

€ 10,527,807.97

€ 18,925,895.04

€ 7,444,313.36

CLARE

€ 12,137,852.76

€ 23,067,916.64

€ 31,354,479.67

€ 17,974,689.56

CORK CITY

€ 59,506,398.38

€ 47,606,481.56

€ 88,190,415.05

€ 53,191,689.42

CORK COUNTY

€ 31,761,940.40

€ 48,211,396.11

€ 81,188,230.34

€ 28,521,660.89

DONEGAL

€ 14,429,068.82

€ 23,680,677.35

€ 26,121,400.61

€ 15,192,147.11

DLR

€ 16,079,591.21

€ 38,002,928.76

€ 31,994,299.29

€ 6,093,358.31

DUBLIN

€ 201,092,646.17

€ 277,541,666.17

€ 419,551,978.07

€ 222,746,588.94

FINGAL

€ 19,463,233.64

€ 60,423,202.34

€ 116,993,525.08

€ 52,603,406.49

S. DUBLIN

€ 42,056,689.50

€ 57,400,930.54

€ 115,463,719.54

€ 42,709,624.00

GALWAY CITY

€ 10,894,636.46

€ 18,296,412.51

€ 26,813,741.57

€ 17,775,924.73

GALWAY COUNTY

€ 13,469,203.87

€ 13,011,266.13

€ 30,586,372.05

€ 20,895,416.92

KERRY

€ 19,101,608.90

€ 25,932,695.89

€ 46,747,950.95

€ 24,291,611.37

KILDARE

€ 40,320,359.96

€ 60,887,144.32

€ 91,573,026.17

€ 75,060,704.46

KILKENNY

€ 17,642,150.17

€ 26,037,386.44

€ 44,417,522.55

€ 24,144,519.96

LAOIS

€ 11,571,191.85

€ 17,738,392.56

€ 14,580,011.63

€ 10,367,978.95

LEITRIM

€ 4,359,837.62

€ 3,006,889.33

€ 5,600,745.97

€ 3,902,564.12

LIMERICK

€ 101,535,926.24

€ 214,424,681.11

€ 352,559,405.99

€ 284,559,897.17

LONGFORD

€ 6,205,919.04

€ 7,424,944.54

€ 16,723,530.51

€ 12,246,627.86

LOUTH

€ 23,374,452.58

€ 20,574,381.08

€ 35,097,943.46

€ 26,268,798.23

MAYO

€ 21,542,870.31

€ 20,900,894.37

€ 26,351,289.37

€ 21,329,311.63

MEATH

€ 27,537,594.37

€ 30,431,809.28

€ 65,915,825.02

€ 33,210,826.78

MONAGHAN

€ 10,522,660.74

€ 17,745,018.19

€ 19,835,869.21

€ 12,983,194.92

OFFALY

€ 9,982,875.57

€ 11,709,441.35

€ 17,842,834.16

€ 14,283,655.27

ROSCOMMON

€ 7,593,143.07

€ 10,844,914.38

€ 10,019,811.13

€ 7,910,070.38

SLIGO

€ 12,913,445.45

€ 15,419,887.17

€ 22,032,153.44

€ 13,772,735.98

TIPPERARY

€ 28,547,394.67

€ 33,641,527.49

€ 49,894,484.79

€ 23,349,100.52

WATERFORD

€ 24,653,412.11

€ 20,150,524.96

€ 52,268,341.52

€ 17,268,005.93

WESTMEATH

€ 13,119,608.67

€ 16,321,206.49

€ 22,845,086.54

€ 19,030,807.63

WEXFORD

€ 21,840,923.80

€ 30,438,698.85

€ 49,217,286.68

€ 21,375,955.11

WICKLOW

€ 13,511,050.99

€ 10,486,421.12

€ 41,678,282.76

€ 23,003,355.75

TOTALS

€ 858,593,353.88

€1,230,283,218.22

€ 1,996,143,486.00

€ 1,170,093,239.82

Local Authority Housing Funding

Questions (1164)

Anne Rabbitte

Question:

1164. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the level of funding provided to each local authority for the provision of housing in each of the years 2016 to 2018 and to date in 2019, in tabular form; the number of housing units built over the period; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45207/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

This year, more than €2.4 billion was allocated to the delivery of social homes nationwide, as part of the Rebuilding Ireland Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness.

As part of this programme, targets are set against a range of delivery mechanisms and resources are allocated to local authorities and Approved Housing Bodies, as the key delivery agents for this work.

My Department work closely with both local authorities and Approved Housing Bodies to monitor progress against these targets and progress is published on a quarterly basis on my Department's website.

The most recent report covers the period up to the end of Q2 2019 and includes a breakdown of all homes delivered, on a county by county basis, including information on the funding stream for each scheme. Detailed information can be found here: https://rebuildingireland.ie/news/minister-murphy-publishes-social-housing-construction-status-report-for-q2-2019-2/.

The funding provided by my Department to each local authority in respect of the delivery of housing programmes, in each year from 2016 to 2018, and for the first 9 months of 2019, is set out in the table below.

2016 €m

2017 €m

2018 €m

2019 (To end Sept) €m

Carlow

12.0

17.7

22.5

20.3

Cavan

7.5

9.9

13.8

7.9

Clare

12.3

23.8

29.1

22.0

Cork City

58.2

47.5

86.3

63.2

Cork County

43.4

62.3

94.4

58.9

DL Rathdown

27.5

57.2

51.1

19.5

Donegal

12.3

23.0

25.1

16.0

Dublin City

230.0

301.8

439.9

303.3

Fingal

34.9

76.9

127.6

80.2

Galway City

13.4

20.5

28.7

23.9

Galway County

11.4

11.7

23.8

20.0

Kerry

17.1

25.4

45.5

28.5

Kildare

41.8

61.5

91.9

89.1

Kilkenny

16.5

24.4

42.8

31.3

Laois

10.4

17.0

13.4

11.5

Leitrim

3.7

2.9

5.0

4.0

Limerick

97.2

212.1

346.2

317.1

Longford

4.9

7.0

15.8

12.7

Louth

21.2

19.7

34.3

34.1

Mayo

14.7

15.1

18.0

18.3

Meath

27.7

30.2

64.4

38.1

Monaghan

8.9

17.2

16.5

15.3

Offaly

8.5

10.3

15.7

18.0

Roscommon

5.4

9.4

7.4

7.9

Sligo

12.2

15.2

20.1

14.7

South Dublin

52.8

71.9

126.2

66.3

Tipperary

24.2

30.3

43.6

24.8

Waterford

22.9

19.9

50.5

22.8

Westmeath

11.8

16.2

22.1

21.1

Wexford

19.5

29.4

46.3

26.0

Wicklow

15.0

11.9

42.1

31.4

Total

899.2

1,299.4

2,010.0

1,468.1

Local Authority Housing Funding

Questions (1165)

Anne Rabbitte

Question:

1165. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the level of funding provided to each county for water upgrades in each of the years 2016 to 2018 and to date in 2019, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45208/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

The table below sets out the recoupment by my Department to local authorities each year since 2016 under the Multi-annual Rural Water Programme which includes Group Water Schemes, Group Sewerage Schemes, Individual wells (more commonly known as private or household wells) and on-site wastewater treatment systems (more commonly known as septic tanks).

Local Authority

2016

2017

2018

2019 (Up to 30/10/19)

Total

Carlow

€147,857.39

€161,267.25

€160,153.59

€117,838.53

€587,116.76

Cavan

€343,317.92

€560,417.53

€509,350.82

€42,378.52

€1,455,464.79

Clare

€277,895.48

€444,097.60

€847,605.61

€122,318.36

€1,691,917.05

Cork

€798,508.54

€1,023,935.76

€753,308.46

€527,449.59

€3,103,202.35

Donegal

€21,643.44

€283,121.48

€74,448.07

€81,987.50

€461,200.49

Dublin South

€9,994.91

€5,793.45

€13,190.32

€16,616.39

€45,595.07

Dún Laoghaire/Rathdown

€1,095.00

€3,291.58

€4,747.21

€2,031.58

€11,165.37

Fingal

€0.00

€14,349.09

€0.00

€4,063.16

€18,412.25

Galway

€1,159,662.68

€802,733.13

€431,950.84

€350,849.21

€2,745,195.86

Kerry

€225,893.47

€286,332.81

€371,876.40

€386,887.33

€1,270,990.01

Kildare

€134,151.83

€73,612.31

€122,098.17

€102,462.56

€432,324.87

Kilkenny

€287,300.79

€505,017.99

€534,277.21

€137,381.21

€1,463,977.20

Laois

€498,123.21

€603,926.51

€394,288.88

€210,102.48

€1,706,441.08

Leitrim

€103,434.65

€124,984.23

€131,316.17

€44,203.43

€403,938.48

Limerick

€307,523.86

€350,369.56

€866,180.45

€662,995.37

€2,187,069.24

Longford

€56,618.17

€47,878.04

€4,000.00

€23,267.90

€131,764.11

Louth

€343,351.43

€342,245.23

€230,099.52

€146,925.83

€1,062,622.01

Mayo

€4,846,377.86

€5,576,990.75

€3,010,009.76

€598,911.77

€14,032,290.14

Meath

€449,476.30

€372,531.81

€616,617.57

€420,819.34

€1,859,445.02

Monaghan

€490,180.97

€362,067.00

€375,868.10

€10,478.43

€1,238,594.50

Offaly

€300,429.40

€389,803.69

€527,212.59

€121,504.52

€1,338,950.20

Roscommon

€426,724.88

€584,549.94

€572,778.34

€227,287.66

€1,811,340.82

Sligo

€22,432.69

€58,758.11

€30,259.84

€179,325.52

€290,776.16

Tipperary

€543,977.56

€605,619.42

€601,812.44

€171,168.96

€1,922,578.38

Waterford

€328,968.49

€221,054.12

€236,669.47

€170,207.99

€956,900.07

Westmeath

€76,549.49

€72,283.79

€163,009.91

€65,312.21

€377,155.40

Wexford

€438,526.36

€533,547.61

€717,762.96

€439,140.32

€2,128,977.25

Wicklow

€346,665.77

€347,119.66

€238,515.98

€229,065.08

€1,161,366.49

Total

€12,986,682.54

€14,757,699.45

€12,539,408.68

€5,612,980.75

€45,896,771.42

Since 1 January 2014, Irish Water has statutory responsibility for all aspects of water services planning, delivery and operation at national, regional and local levels in relation to public water and waste water services.

Irish Water has established a dedicated team to deal with representations and queries from public representatives. The team can be contacted via email to oireachtasmembers@water.ie or by telephone on a dedicated number, 1890 578 578.

Local Authority Funding

Questions (1166)

Anne Rabbitte

Question:

1166. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the level of funding provided to each county for fire services in each of the years 2016 to 2018 and to date in 2019, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45209/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

The Fire Services Capital Programme forms an important part of my Department’s strategy to support fire authorities in the development and maintenance of a quality fire-fighting and rescue service. My Department provides capital funding for the construction/upgrading of fire stations and the procurement of fire appliances and specialised equipment.

The prioritisation and effective management of these resources is, in the first instance, a matter for each of the fire authorities based on their assessment of local needs and requirements. My Department works closely with fire services around the country to progress priority projects.

Funding provided to each county for Fire Services

2016

2017

2018

2019 (to end October)

Carlow

€264,397

€534,002

€217,721

€0

Cavan

€100,256

€30,765

€287,530

€771,031

Clare

€8,118

€416,007

€1,007,850

€66,254

Cork

€1,010,049

€455,239

€8,118

€310,160

Donegal

€130,932

€363,806

€0

€452,294

Dublin

€179,969

€1,039,099

€666,493

€470,346

Galway

€502,297

€336,390

€1,952,309

€334,908

Kerry

€11,500

€0

€5,304

€188,737

Kildare

€55,903

€370,922

€61,896

€0

Kilkenny

€80,164

€1,122,984

€243,949

€84,102

Laois

€8,118

€106,239

€84,039

€56,246

Leitrim

€0

€0

€5,354

€0

Limerick

€64,151

€111,813

€109,074

€6,210

Longford

€652,414

€297,123

€855,300

€6,210

Louth

€0

€406,393

€228,378

€84,475

Mayo

€242,282

€181,411

€50,345

€158,374

Meath

€20,295

€104,093

€207,456

€20,756

Monaghan

€406,252

€122,215

€137,167

€398,676

Offaly

€183,397

€850,581

€300,442

€323,795

Tipperary

€952,561

€790,896

€828,661

€331,178

Waterford

€5,412

€125,104

€87,909

€0

Westmeath

€1,407,200

€1,100,186

€352,929

€302,357

Wexford

€112,841

€0

€358,993

€0

Wicklow

€394,425

€71,832

€170,281

€187,756

My Department is also funding the Fire Services' CTrí (previously known as CAMP) project dealing with the Fire Services' 999/112 emergency call-taking service for the public. It is a nation-wide system, based in three regional communication centres in Dublin, Limerick and Castlebar. The CTrí Project will see the introduction of a new mobilisation system better linking the three centres. This will provide the opportunity to achieve an improved, more resilient service for the public. Funding of €1.62 million, €1.87 million and €2.7 million was provided for this project by my Department in the years 2016, 2017 and 2018 respectively. This funding is ongoing and a further €3.1 million has been provided in the current year to date. Due to the nature of this project, which will benefit every county in the country, the funding has not been apportioned on a county-by-county basis.

Local Authority Funding

Questions (1167)

Brendan Smith

Question:

1167. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the funding approved to date for local authorities under a specific programme (details supplied); the projected allocations at year end; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45250/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

Funding approval of almost €500,000 has been given to Cavan and Monaghan County Councils this year under the voids programme, based on the number of properties submitted by them. In recent weeks, Monaghan County Council has submitted additional properties for inclusion under the programme, which have now also been approved for funding subject to the conditions attaching to the programme.

While my Department is supportive of local authorities in bringing vacant social homes back to productive use under the voids programme, it is of concern if the increased level of submissions being made by them, arises from a reduced funding commitment on their part, to the maintenance and re-letting of their own housing stock. The management and maintenance of local authority housing stock, including pre-letting repairs to vacant properties, the implementation of planned maintenance programmes and carrying out of responsive repairs, are matters for each individual local authority under the Housing Acts. To facilitate the early re-letting of social homes when an existing tenant leaves a property, it is vital that local authorities make provision in their own budget, for pre-letting works. I hope that Council members will support this important work in setting future budgets.

Home Loan Scheme

Questions (1168)

Eoin Ó Broin

Question:

1168. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if applicants for the Rebuilding Ireland home loan who have been refused the authorised mortgage protection insurance can avail of private insurance; and if so, the criteria for approval of such own sourced insurance. [45251/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

The local authority mortgage protection insurance (MPI) scheme has applied to all house purchase loans approved by local authorities after 1 July 1986, including the Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan introduced on 1 February 2018. Mortgage protection insurance is charged at the rate of 0.555%.

It is obligatory for all local authority borrowers who meet the eligibility criteria to join the scheme, which is a group policy. Altering this condition would have a negative impact on the scheme and increase the cost for all existing borrowers.

A local authority housing loan applicant who is not eligible for the local authority MPI scheme must source a suitable comparable individual MPI policy from the market. The level of coverage/benefits provided under the alternative MPI should be similar to that available under the Local Authority Group MPI scheme.

The final decision on loan approval is a matter for each local authority and its Credit Committee on a case-by-case basis. Decisions on all housing loan applications must be made in accordance with the statutory credit policy that underpins the scheme, in order to ensure consistency of treatment for all applicants.

Building Control Management System

Questions (1169)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

1169. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government his views on recent reports regarding defects and poor quality in some concrete products being supplied to the construction industry; and if his Department monitors the quality of residential and commercial construction in view of problems with aggregate and insulation in the Celtic tiger era. [45137/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

The design and construction of buildings is regulated under the Building Control Acts 1990 to 2014, in order to ensure the safety of people within the built environment. The Act provides for the making of Building Regulations and Building Control Regulations.

In relation to products, Part D of the Building Regulations sets out the legal requirements for materials and workmanship. It requires that all works must be carried out using “proper materials which are fit for the use for which they are intended and for the conditions in which they are to be used” and in a workmanlike manner to ensure compliance with the Building Regulations. Technical Guidance Document (TGD) D provides guidance on means of demonstrating products are fit for purpose, this includes products which bear a CE Marking in accordance with the provisions of the Construction Products Regulation (Regulation (EU) No. 305/2011 of the European Parliament and of the Council laying down harmonised conditions for the marketing of construction products and repealing Council Directive 89/106/EEC).

Under the Construction Products Regulation (CPR) manufacturers are required, when placing a construction product (which is covered by harmonised European standards or European Technical Assessments) on the EU market, to make a Declaration of Performance and affix the CE mark. In broad terms, this means that manufacturers are required to provide robust and reliable information in a consistent way for construction products. For many construction products, the application of the CE mark will require the involvement of a third party (known as a ‘notified body’) to undertake certain tasks as specified in the harmonised European standard. These tasks may include activities such as initial type-testing of products, inspection of factory production control and surveillance of factory production control.

In addition, the National Standards Authority of Ireland (NSAI) has also produced additional guidance to some harmonised European standards in the form of National Annexes or Standard Recommendations, which set out appropriate minimum performance levels for specific intended uses of certain products in Ireland.

Currently, there are a number of harmonised European standards, and accompanying Standard Recommendations, in place in respect of insulation products, aggregates, as well as for precast concrete products and masonry products which may require aggregates for their manufacture.

In the first instance, it is a matter for owners, designers and builders, with responsibility for compliance with the Building Regulation, to specify the particular project specific performance requirements of products in the context of the conditions in which they are to be used. In addition, during construction such steps as are necessary should be taken to ensure that the products provided meet these specifications and are suitable for the purpose for which they are intended. Guidance is provided in relation to this in the Code of Practice for Inspecting and Certifying Buildings and Works, which is available at the following link:

https://www.localgov.ie/sites/default/files/2016-10-21_code_of_practice_for_inspecting_and_certifying_buildings_and_works_final_version-2016.pdf

Enforcement of the Building Regulations is a matter for the 31 local building control authorities who have extensive powers of inspection and enforcement under the Acts and who are independent in the use of their statutory powers. Building control authorities are also designated as the principal market surveillance authorities for construction products that fall within the scope of the CPR. Similarly, market surveillance authorities are provided with wide-ranging powers to ensure that construction products placed on the market comply with the requirements set out in the CPR. These include the issuing of a notice to require corrective actions and in the event of a serious risk being identified, powers that would lead to prohibiting or restricting a construction product from being made available on the market. Issues that arise in relation to products and materials, have been and continue to be dealt with by the relevant local authorities using the powers above, this has been the case in particular in relation to product such as aggregates, concrete blocks and insulation.

The National Building Control Office (NBCO), within Dublin City Council, provides oversight, direction and support for the development, standardisation and implementation of Building Control as an effective shared service in the 31 Building Control Authorities. My Department is working with the NBCO and other relevant authorities to strengthen the market surveillance function. For example, work is being advanced with Geological Survey Ireland, as a competent authority, to address quarried products.

Local Authority Funding

Questions (1170)

Richard Boyd Barrett

Question:

1170. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government his views on the fact that across local authorities there is less money available for local services in view of the fact the stated aim of the local property tax was to provide extra resources for same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38987/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

The Local Property Tax (LPT) accounts for approximately 9% of the local government sector’s current income, amounting to allocations of €503m in 2019. It supplements income from commercial rates, from the provision of goods and services and from government grants. Local authorities’ cost and income bases vary significantly from one another, as do their LPT bases, and their abilities to raise revenue from other sources.

In 2019, 80% or €393.8m of the overall LPT allocation is being used at the discretion of local authorities to support the provision of local services which benefit citizens directly such as parks, libraries, leisure amenities, fire and emergency services, street lighting, maintenance and cleaning of streets. In addition, 20% or €109.3m of LPT is supporting Housing and Roads services in 2019, supplementing the considerable exchequer funding also provided for these important services. Apart from these specific self-funding allocations, it is a matter for each local authority to determine its own spending priorities including how to spend its LPT allocation.

In 2020, I expect that LPT allocations will increase to €516.8m. The increase is accounted for, in the most part, by the decisions of 19 local authorities to increase their LPT rates above the basic rate for 2020. When a local authority decides to vary the LPT basic rate upwards (by up to 15%), it retains 100% of the resultant additional income collected in the local authority area. Likewise, when the rate is reduced, the authority forgoes the income that would have been collected. The 19 local authorities that voted to increase their LPT above the basic rate are expected to gain €19.7m in additional LPT income for their own use in 2020. The equivalent LPT gain over the basic rate for the same authorities in 2019 was €3.4m.

LPT allocations to local authorities for 2020 and previous years are published on my Department’s website at the following links: https://www.housing.gov.ie/search/archived/current/category/housing/sub-topic/local-property-tax/sub-type/funding-allocation/topic/chargestaxes/type/publications?query and https://www.housing.gov.ie/sites/default/files/publications/files/final_2020_lpt_allocations_after_local_variation.pdf.

Taxation policy, including in respect of LPT, is in the first instance a matter for my colleague the Minister for Finance and Public Expenditure and Reform. In this regard, a ‘Review of Local Property Tax’ was published by the Department of Finance in March of this year and referred by Minister Donohoe to the Budgetary Oversight Committee for its consideration. Chapter 2 and Appendix B of the LPT Review provide a more detailed outline of LPT as a funding source for local authorities:

https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/1e5c76-review-of-local-property-tax/.

Building Regulations

Questions (1171)

Michael Harty

Question:

1171. Deputy Michael Harty asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government his plans for the continuation of SI No. 365 of 2015, Building Control (Amendment) (No. 2) Regulations 2015, with respect to the discretionary opt-out for self builders. [45269/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

In response to the building failures that have emerged over the past decade, Government has embarked on a three pronged Building Control Reform Agenda, which is focused on:

1. Reform of the Building Control process;

2. Establishment of a National Building Control Management Project; and

3. Putting the Construction Industry Register Ireland on a statutory footing.

The Building Control (Amendment) Regulations 2014 (S.I. No. 9 of 2014) require greater accountability in relation to compliance with Building Regulations in the form of statutory certification of design and construction by registered construction professionals and builders, lodgement of compliance documentation, mandatory inspections during construction and validation and registration of certificates.

A Certificate of Compliance on Completion is jointly signed by the builder and the assigned certifier. This must be accompanied by plans and documentation to show how the constructed building complies with the building regulations and also the inspection plan, as implemented.

Under these Regulations, the owner of a building must assign competent persons to design, build, inspect and certify building works he/she has commissioned. They in turn, must account for their contribution through the lodgement of compliance documentation, inspection plans and statutory certificates. The roles and responsibilities of owners, designers, builders, assigned certifiers, etc. during building works are set out in the Code of Practice for Inspecting and Certifying Buildings and Works, which is available at the following link:

https://www.localgov.ie/sites/default/files/2016-10-21_code_of_practice_for_inspecting_and_certifying_buildings_and_works_final_version-2016.pdf.

This has brought clarity and accountability, a focus on compliance with Building Regulations and a new order to bear on construction projects.

S.I. No. 9 of 2014 was reviewed after 12 months in operation. Following this review, the were introduced. Under these regulations, owners of new single dwellings, on a single development unit, and domestic extensions may opt out of the requirements for statutory certification. This was introduced due to the perceived high costs of the S.I. 9 procedures for owners of such dwellings.

However, it is important to note, these regulations do not facilitate an "opt-out" of the requirements of the Building Regulations. Building Regulations exist to protect the safety and welfare of people in and about buildings, they apply to the design and construction of a new building and to an extension or material alteration of an existing building and include new single dwellings, on a single development unit, and domestic extensions.

My Department has published an information note for owners of new dwellings and extensions who opt out of Statutory Certification for building control purposes. This note explains the building control system, what the procedure is for opting out and provides general advice on the statutory obligations that rest with owners who opt out such as compliance with Building Regulations, planning, workplace safety etc. The information note is available at the following link:

https://www.housing.gov.ie/housing/building-standards/building-regulations/information-note-owners-new-dwellings-and-extensions.

National Building Control Office (NBCO), within Dublin City Council, provides oversight, direction and support for the development, standardisation and implementation of Building Control as an effective shared service in the 31 Building Control Authorities. Within this context, the uptake and use of SI No. 365 of 2015 is being monitored. Reviews of the building control regulations are undertaken by my Department, as necessary, as part of the ongoing Building Control Reform Agenda.

An Bord Pleanála

Questions (1172)

Michael Harty

Question:

1172. Deputy Michael Harty asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the outcomes of the 17 October 2019 fact finding mission by An Bord Pleanála to London on the best use of land for the building of houses; and his policy plans in relation to same. [45270/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

I understand that the question is in reference to a Study visit to London organised by the Irish Planning Institute (IPI), that took place from 16 to 18 October 2019.

I should clarify that events such as this, organised by professional bodies such as the IPI, form part of a Continuous Professional Development (CPD) programme for those working in the planning or other technical-professional arenas, in both private and public sectors, and are open to all those who are members of the Institute and other relevant stakeholders. Therefore, the IPI Study visit was not exclusive to An Bord Pleanála and included officials from a number of different planning authorities and my Department.

The purpose of events such as these are to facilitate the exchange of knowledge, experience and best practice. This provides a useful context for key officials, from both a development management and policy formulation perspective. While I am not in a position to provide an overall assessment of this event from the perspective of the IPI, my officials found it useful to see practical examples of varied forms of different urban regeneration and densification.

The topic of urban densification, was also the theme of a conference London Irish Town Planners Network, at which I spoke. The Irish delegates on the IPI study trip were also invited to attend this event, which provided a useful forum for discussion and information exchange and will assist in contributing to future policy development.

At the event, I outlined the principal policies of the Government in relation to the best use of land for the building of houses, including the importance of compact growth for regional, urban and rural development, are set out in the National Planning Framework and in the three Regional Spatial and Economic Strategies (RSESs). The RSESs, are likely to be finalised by the end of this year, after which, a review of County and City development plans will complete the local policy context.