Questions Nos. 21 to 32, inclusive, answered orally.

Land Development Agency

Questions (33)

Richard Boyd Barrett

Question:

33. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government his views on whether the Land Development Agency will become a vehicle for the privatisation of public land and will be unable to deliver the affordable and social homes needed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45221/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

The need for more active land management by the State has been articulated in many policy documents, including report No.145 of the National Economic and Social Council which stated that Project Ireland 2040: the National Planning Framework (NPF) and the National Development Plan (NDP) provided the perfect moment to transition to a new system of urban development and land management. This is crucial in ensuring that future developments are planning led rather than developer led.

The Land Development Agency (LDA) is being established in this context with an immediate focus on managing the State’s own lands to develop new homes, and regenerate under-utilised sites. In the longer-term, it will assemble strategic land-banks from a mix of public and private lands, making these available for housing in a controlled manner, bringing essential long-term stability to the Irish housing market.

The LDA is the State's developer. The proposed primary legislation will establish the LDA as a commercial State body with the capacity and mandate to fulfil this important public purpose. The shareholders will be the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform and myself. The LDA cannot be privatised as the proposed legislation will provide that the shareholding in the LDA can only be held by a Government Minister or a body under their aegis.

In parallel, the Government agreed that new requirements will attach to the disposal of surplus State lands, in that , where appropriate, a minimum of 30% of residential units should be affordable housing, in addition to statutory requirements under Part V of the Planning and Development Acts. This is a matter of Government policy, which applies to public lands provided to the LDA. The LDA will be accountable to the Government for the delivery of such housing in line with its mandate.

Vacant Properties

Questions (34)

Brendan Smith

Question:

34. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government when approval will issue to Cavan County Council in respect of the upgrading of houses under the voids programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45229/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

Funding approval was given to Cavan County Council earlier this year under the voids programme, based on the number of properties submitted by them at that time. In recent weeks, the Council has submitted substantially more properties for inclusion under the programme and funding approval has now issued in response to that second proposal.

While my Department is supportive of Cavan County Council in bringing vacant social homes back to productive use under the voids programme, I am advised that the increased level of submissions being made by the Council, arises from a reduced funding commitment on their part, to the maintenance 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. Indeed, the support of Councillors to make adequate budgetary provision for this important work is a key element in ensuring that local authorities can re-let social homes as soon as possible to those on their waiting lists.

Social and Affordable Housing Data

Questions (35)

Darragh O'Brien

Question:

35. Deputy Darragh O'Brien asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of units anticipated to be secured through long-term lease in each of the years 2019 to 2021; the amount to be spent; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45197/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

Over the course of the Rebuilding Ireland Action Plan, the Government is committed to meeting the housing needs of over 138,000 households. This will be achieved through blended delivery, involving increasing the social housing stock by 50,000 homes, through build, acquisition and leasing programmes, and supporting some 88,000 further households through the Housing Assistance Payment and the Rental Accommodation Scheme.

Of the 50,000 social housing homes to be delivered under Rebuilding Ireland, over 10,000 homes will be leased by local authorities and approved housing bodies under leasing arrangements from a range of different sources, including direct leasing by local authorities and approved housing bodies, the Repair and Leasing Scheme, the Mortgage to Rent Scheme and Enhanced Leasing. The exact blend of delivery under leasing in any given year will depend on the availability of existing stock and new homes in any particular county.

A total of 2,130 dwellings are targeted to be delivered under leasing in 2019; the target increases to 2,631 dwellings in 2020 and is set at 2,450 dwellings in 2021. It should be noted that progress by each local authority against target under Rebuilding Ireland is published quarterly on my Department’s website.

Leasing is funded under the Social Housing Current Expenditure Programme (SHCEP), which also meets the current costs of dwellings delivered by approved housing bodies under the CALF and Housing Agency Acquisitions Programmes. The SHCEP budget for 2019 is just under €155 million. An allocation of €191 million has been secured for SHCEP in 2020, which is an increase of €36 million on the 2019 allocation. The allocation for SHCEP in 2021 will form part of the annual estimates process.

Building Regulations Amendments

Questions (36)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

36. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if he is updating the current regulations on the fire safety aspects of new high-rise buildings further to the Grenfell fire in London; and the way in which the Dublin and other fire brigades are being resourced to fight fires in high-rise buildings. [45138/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

The Grenfell Tower tragedy took place on 14 June 2017 and I established a Fire Safety Task Force to examine fire safety in Ireland, and in particular the risk of a similar tragedy happening here, on 27 June. The Report of the Task Force which is available on my Department's website, was brought to Government in May 2018.

Overall, the Report, which included a review of fire safety in 839 buildings over 6 storeys, found that the combination of factors that contributed to the Grenfell Tower fire do not seem to be present in Ireland and that the current fire safety strategy in Ireland, which includes evacuation, is appropriate and effective in protecting people living in medium to high-rise buildings.

The Report did, however, make a range of recommendations for improvements in relation to fire safety and work is underway in terms of: regulatory provisions; fire service operations and fire safety, particularly around fire detection and alarm systems.

I have now asked my Department to review the Report on Phase 1 of the Grenfell Tower Inquiry, which was recently published and to bring forward any additional recommendations as appropriate.

In relation to Building Regulations, work has been on-going to review “Part B: Fire Safety - Volume 2” and a new Technical Guidance Document came into force on 1 July 2017. A revised Volume 1, is being prepared for public consultation at present.

In terms of equipment, this is generally a matter for fire authorities based on their assessment of fire risk and requirements. However, to support authorities in procuring specialist equipment, as part of my Department's capital programme, Dublin Fire Service has recently received approval to purchase a 42-metre Turn Table Ladder (TTL) and Cork City Fire Service has been approved to purchase a 32-metre Hydraulic Platform.

Homeless Persons Data

Question No. 38 answered with Question No. 32.

Questions (37)

Eoin Ó Broin

Question:

37. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of adults and children registered as homeless in each of the years 2016 to 2018 and to date in 2019, by local authority area in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45233/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

My Department publishes a monthly report on homelessness. The monthly report is based on data provided by housing authorities on a regional basis and produced through the Pathway Accommodation & Support System. The report captures details of individuals utilising State-funded emergency accommodation arrangements that are overseen by housing authorities. The most recent report is for September 2019, which showed that there were 6,524 adults and 3,873 dependants in emergency accommodation in that month. Monthly reports for 2016, 2017, 2018 and to date in 2019 are available on my Department’s website.

Supporting families experiencing homelessness is a priority for this Government. 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.

Rebuilding Ireland is delivering significant results in supporting exits from homelessness. In 2018, 5,135 adults exited homelessness into homes, an 8.6% increase on 2017. In the first six months of 2019, 2,825 adults and their associated dependents exited homelessness into homes nationally. This is a 21% increase on the numbers recorded at the same point in 2018. In the Dublin region, data provided by the Dublin Region Homeless Executive shows that 786 families have exited from emergency accommodation into homes over the first nine months of this year. This is a 48% increase on the exits achieved over the same period last year. Family presentations in the Dublin region have also fallen by 9.5% in the first nine months of the year, compared to 2018, with 48% of the families presenting to homeless services prevented from having to enter emergency accommodation.

Question No. 38 answered with Question No. 32.

Housing Assistance Payment

Questions (39)

Maureen O'Sullivan

Question:

39. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if his attention has been drawn to the difficulties faced by tenants granted HAP in securing properties that accept the payment; if he will report on efforts to ensure HAP is a realistic option for tenants currently on local authority waiting lists in view of the difficulty in securing tenancies; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45086/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

HAP plays a vital role in housing eligible families and individuals. At the end of Q2 2019, there were more than 48,000 households in receipt of HAP support and over 28,000 separate landlords and agents providing accommodation to households supported by the scheme.

Rebuilding Ireland sets annual national targets for additional HAP-supported tenancies. In 2018, this target was for an additional 17,000 HAP tenancies, which was exceed by more than 900 tenancies. A target was set to support an additional 16,760 households through HAP in 2019; at the end of Q2 2019 an additional 8,667 HAP tenancies were set up.

The HAP Placefinder, an initiative started in Dublin and Cork to provide targeted assistance to homeless households, was rolled out nationally in January 2018. This structure provides local authorities with enhanced resources, both staffing and financial, to directly assist households to secure HAP properties, including as appropriate- working in emergency accommodation to assist families exit to HAP; liaising with agents and property owners; attending viewings; paying deposits and advance rent as needed. Over 8,100 households who were either homeless or at urgent risk of homelessness have been assisted under the service to date.

A landlord or an agent acting on behalf of a landlord is not legally obliged to enter into a tenancy agreement with a HAP recipient. However, on 1 January 2016, the Equality (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2015 introduced “housing assistance” as a new discriminatory ground. This means that discrimination in the provision of accommodation or related service and amenities against people in receipt of rent supplement, HAP or other social welfare payments is prohibited.

If a person feels that they have been discriminated against by a landlord or their agent, they can make a complaint under the Equal Status Acts to the Workplace Relations Commission.

Electoral Register

Questions (40)

John Brady

Question:

40. Deputy John Brady asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the status of review of the electoral registration process; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44792/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

Following an initial consultation with local authorities on a set of policy proposals, I launched a public consultation on the electoral register modernisation project in December 2018. 187 submissions were received from a broad range of stakeholders and I intend to publish a report on the consultation very shortly.

The responses to the consultation are informing ongoing work in my Department on various options for the project, including:

- the development of a simplified standardised registration form;

- the introduction of a rolling national register;

- the use of unique identifiers such as PPSNs to avoid duplicates;

- the potential for data-sharing with other public bodies to further improve the quality of the register; and

- the provision of an optional online platform for individuals to update their details.

A separate project being undertaken by the Dublin local authorities - voter.ie - has, among other things, developed an online facility to enable Dublin electors to manage their information. My Department is currently working with the Dublin local authorities to arrange an independent evaluation of Voter.ie to assess its suitability for a national roll out.

A draft General Scheme of a Bill to give legislative effect to the proposals is currently being developed and I expect to bring that to Government by year-end.

There will be ongoing engagement with local authorities as the project progresses and further stakeholder consultation will take place on the development of specific proposals. Additional public awareness campaigns are also planned to keep people informed of progress.

Land Development Agency

Questions (41)

Bríd Smith

Question:

41. Deputy Bríd Smith asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government his views on whether the board membership of the Land Development Agency will be able to provide sufficient social and affordable public housing on public lands to deal with the current crisis; his plans to appoint housing rights advocates or NGO activists to the agency; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45148/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

On enactment of the primary legislation, a permanent board and Chairperson for the Land Development Agency (LDA) will be appointed in accordance with the Guidelines on the Appointment to State Boards. The exact make up of the Board will be determined after an open recruitment process, having regard to the mix of skills required for the appropriate governance of the LDA.

For the intervening period, I have appointed an interim Board to direct the Land Development Agency. The composition of the Board is drawn from the private and public sector and provides a good mix of skills and expertise.

The Board is collectively responsible for leading and directing the State body’s activities. Accordingly, the Board oversees the running of the LDA, which includes its obligation to deliver significant affordable and social housing on public lands.

The LDA will also work closely with local authorities and will use its professional expertise to assist them with their delivery of social and affordable housing on relevant sites.

Social and Affordable Housing

Questions (42, 44)

Paul Murphy

Question:

42. Deputy Paul Murphy asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if he will discontinue the strategic housing development scheme. [45238/19]

View answer

Richard Boyd Barrett

Question:

44. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government his plans to abandon the strategic housing development legislation entirely in view of the fact that it has failed to deliver much-needed affordable homes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45223/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 42 and 44 together.

As part of the actions under the Government's Action Plan on Housing and Homelessness – Rebuilding Ireland, the Planning and Development (Housing) and Residential Tenancies Act 2016 (the Act) introduced new streamlined arrangements to enable planning applications for strategic housing developments (SHDs) of 100 housing units or more, or student accommodation or shared accommodation developments of 200 bed spaces or more, to be made directly to An Bord Pleanála for determination.

The Act provides that the SHD arrangements apply until the end of 2019, but that I may, by order, extend that period by a further limited period of 2 years, up to the end of 2021, coinciding with the timeframe of Rebuilding Ireland. However, prior to the making of such an order, and not later than 30 October 2019, the Act requires that I review the operation and effectiveness of the SHD arrangements and lay before both Houses of the Oireachtas a report of my conclusions of the review.

In this regard, a Strategic Housing Development Review Group was established in June 2019. The Report of the Review Group was received on 24 September 2019. The Report acknowledges that the SHD arrangements have generally been a success in meeting their objectives to contribute to addressing housing undersupply issues by providing a fast-track development consent process aimed at incentivising developers to bring forward applications for large-scale housing developments.

Notwithstanding the positive contribution the SHD arrangements have made, the Review Group notes that there continues to exist a deficit in housing supply and affirms that the original rationale for the introduction of the SHD arrangements remains. In light of these findings, the Review Group considers that there are sufficient grounds for extending the SHD arrangements until the end of 2021.

I concur with the finding of the Review Group in this regard and propose to shortly sign an order to this effect. A report on my conclusions of the review, as well as the Review Group's Report, has been laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas, as required by the Act and copies of both reports are available on my Department's website.

In addition, I have reflected on the views of the Review Group on the rate of activation of SHD sites, and I consider it appropriate that developers should be sufficiently motivated to commence development on foot of an SHD permission in a timely manner given the benefits the SHD arrangements provide. Therefore, I consider that it would be appropriate to introduce a "use it or lose it" measure in this regard and I intend bringing forward the necessary legislation to address this matter.

Local Authority Housing Eligibility

Question No. 44 answered with Question No. 42.

Question No. 45 answered with Question No. 43.

Questions (43, 45, 50)

Gino Kenny

Question:

43. Deputy Gino Kenny asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government when he will announce the review of income limit eligibility for council housing; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45224/19]

View answer

Brendan Smith

Question:

45. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government when he plans to increase the income eligibility limits for social housing, particularly for areas such as counties Cavan and Monaghan in which present limits are too low; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45226/19]

View answer

Richard Boyd Barrett

Question:

50. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government his views on whether increasing numbers of individuals and families are being removed from the council lists even though their incomes fall short of allowing them to provide secure housing for themselves in view of the fact that income eligibility criteria for social housing have not been reviewed since 2011; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45222/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 43, 45 and 50 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. 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.

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.

Question No. 44 answered with Question No. 42.
Question No. 45 answered with Question No. 43.

Homelessness Strategy

Questions (46)

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

46. Deputy Jan O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if he will report on the housing first programme; the number of housing first tenancies; the locations it has been rolled out; his plans to extend it; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44983/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

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 National Implementation Plan for Housing First, published in September 2018, extends the delivery of Housing First nationally, with the introduction of targets for each local authority. The Plan includes an overall target of 663 tenancies in the period 2018-2021. 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.

In line with the National Implementation Plan, Housing First is being delivered on a regional basis by the local authorities and the HSE. During 2019, contracts for the delivery of services have been put in place or are at an advanced stage in each of the nine regions responsible for the delivery of homeless services. To date, 352 individuals have been housed under the Housing First Programme, including 100 individuals who have been housed since the publication of the National Implementation Plan. A copy of the National Implementation Plan is available on my Department's website at the following link: ttps://www.housing.gov.ie/housing/homelessness/housing-first-national-implementation-plan-2018-2021.

Housing Data

Question No. 48 answered with Question No. 32.

Questions (47)

Joan Burton

Question:

47. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if he has undertaken an evaluation of the affordability of rent and house purchases; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39048/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

Increasing the supply of new homes is a central goal of the Rebuilding Ireland Action Plan, not least because such increases will help to moderate price movements. Lead indicators for housing supply, such as planning permission and construction commencement activity, provide a strong basis for confidence that the number of new home completions will continue to increase.

Aside from encouraging greater supply, my Department has deployed a range of measures to help address affordability. The Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan is a targeted support to help first time buyers to attain homeownership. Total funding available for the loan is over €563m for 2018 and 2019 combined. This measure complements the Help to Buy scheme, which helps first time buyers saving for a deposit. The designation of Rent Pressure Zones (RPZs), helps to constrain price inflation in many residential rental markets. There are now 44 RPZs across Ireland, covering 68% of all registered tenancies. Other supports, such as the Local Infrastructure Housing Activation Fund (LIHAF) and the Serviced Sites Fund (SSF), will support the provision of new affordable homes for purchase and rent.

My Department, working with the Economic and Social Research Institute, operates a housing economics research programme which examines the various dynamics of housing and rental markets. Recent research under this programme in relation to affordability was published in the Spring 2019 edition of the Economic and Social Review.

A further paper examining affordability for prospective first-time buyers from a regional perspective is currently being finalised and will be published in due course.

Question No. 48 answered with Question No. 32.

Housing Data

Question No. 50 answered with Question No. 43.

Questions (49)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

49. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the total expenditure over the past three years on the provision of temporary housing accommodation in lieu of local authority housing; the extent to which an audit has been carried out on a value for money basis on such expenditure as opposed to a one-off strategic capital programme to deal with the housing crisis, thereby dealing with the housing issue directly as opposed to the more expensive route of engaging investors; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45182/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

The Rebuilding Ireland Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness undertakes to resolve both shorter term housing need and longer term structural capacity within the Irish housing market, through a range of blended delivery mechanisms, each tailored to address the complex range of challenges and needs before us.

As set out in the Action Plan, this Government is committed to meeting the housing needs of over 138,000 households. By 2021, the social housing stock in Ireland will have increased by 50,000 homes. This will be achieved using a combination of build, acquisition and leasing programmes. This will further contribute to the ongoing reduction in housing waiting lists.

Spending on the capital housing programme has been increasing significantly year on year under Rebuilding Ireland and this year more than 10,000 new social homes will be delivered through build, acquisition and leasing programmes across the country. Next year this figure will increase to more than 11,000 new social homes.

While this capacity grows, it is imperative that we also support families using current programmes such as HAP and RAS.

The table below outlines the expenditure on current expenditure programmes such as SHCEP, RAS and HAP over the period 2016 – 2018. In 2019, more than €2.4 billion will be expended across both capital and current programmes meeting the housing needs of more than 27,000 households.

2016 Expenditure

2017 Expenditure

2018 Expenditure

€m

€m

€m

SHCEP

54.029

84.051

100.393

RAS

130.998

142.838

143.337

HAP

57.7

152.697

276.604

Total

242.727

379.586

520.334

Over the period 2016-2018, the housing needs of some 90,000 households were supported under current programmes, including the HAP and RAS schemes. If the funding provided for these 90,000 households had been transferred to capital expenditure, to support building or buying homes, it would have secured some 5,500 homes, leaving no resources available to support the other 85,500 households. Looking at it another way, it would take almost €20 billion to provide a new build local authority home for those 90,000 households.

The review of Current and Capital Expenditure on Social Housing Delivery Mechanisms, prepared by the Irish Government Economic & Evaluation Service (IGEES) and published earlier this summer, focussed on an examination of the housing supports provided through capital and current funding mechanisms, the trends and cost developments in housing expenditure and also considered broader issues relevant to overall housing policy development.

In examining the overall blend of housing delivery mechanisms, the review recognised that, in addition to cost factors, there are a range of other factors, which need to be considered in terms of housing delivery, including flexibility and speed of delivery to meet immediate housing need.

Addressing increased social housing need and delivering the greatest number of social housing supports at this time has required the development and implementation of a range of flexible and innovative mechanisms, which take account of available resources and market conditions. Harnessing private investment remains an important element in the overall delivery of social housing, including through supporting local authorities in meeting the needs of households on their waiting lists.

Notwithstanding the cost comparisons set out in the review, it remains the case that it would not be possible to deliver the same number of social housing homes in higher value rental areas exclusively through capital funded build and acquisition programmes. This will continue to be an important consideration in the context of the future availability of capital funding and the resourcing and capacity required to escalate local authority build and acquisition programmes to the level required to meet the current level of social housing need.

Indeed of the 50,000 new social housing homes which will be added through Rebuilding Ireland, 33,500 of these will be built with the remainder acquired. A further 10,000 homes will be leased under long term leasing arrangements.

Clearly, it is important at this time that a blended approach to the delivery of social housing homes is pursued in order to deliver and provide immediate housing supports to those households on local authority waiting lists across the country whilst simultaneously ratcheting up capacity year on year within the housing stock. This approach is supported by the findings of the IGEES review, which supports the need for a blended approach to delivery.

The housing crisis is complex in nature and requires a flexible, innovative response. In each year of Rebuilding Ireland to date outputs have exceeded targets and in doing so we are, step by step, resolving these issues and putting in foundations of a sustainable housing future for this country.

Question No. 50 answered with Question No. 43.

Proposed Legislation

Questions (51)

Eamon Ryan

Question:

51. Deputy Eamon Ryan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the status of the marine planning and development management Bill. [41989/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

Government approved a General Scheme of the Marine Planning and Development Management Bill in July 2019. Further policy work continues on the development of certain aspects of the proposed regime with a view to incorporating these elements once completed. My Department is engaging intensively with counterparts in the Department of Communications, Climate Action and the Environment who are leading the development of the provisions specific to Offshore Renewable Energy, to expedite the finalisation of the General Scheme in the coming weeks.

In addition to the policy development work, my Department is continuing to work with the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel on the drafting process. The target timeframe for the publication of the Marine Planning and Development Management Bill, as set out in the Climate Action Plan to tackle Climate Breakdown, is Quarter 4 2019. The finalisation of the Bill will be subject to engagement with the Joint Committee on Housing, Planning and Local Government in relation to pre-legislative scrutiny.

The Marine Planning and Development Management Bill will require further enabling measures post enactment to bring the new regime into operation including the necessary regulations, statutory guidelines and transitional arrangements.

Planning Investigations

Question No. 53 answered with Question No. 32.

Questions (52)

John Brady

Question:

52. Deputy John Brady asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government his plans for an investigation into alleged planning irregularities at Wicklow County Council; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44791/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

I am currently considering additional documentation that I received earlier this year from the Deputy on this matter and I will write to him in due course to advise of the outcome and my decision in this matter.

Question No. 53 answered with Question No. 32.

Building Regulations Compliance

Questions (54)

Eoin Ó Broin

Question:

54. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if he will reconsider his opposition to placing an obligation on platforms and letting agents to ensure all properties are complaint with new planning regulations in view of the low level of compliance with short-term letting regulations. [45236/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

`I am not opposed to there being an obligation on short-term letting platforms and letting agents to ensure all properties are compliant with new planning regulations. However, as the Deputy is well aware, responsibility for tourism rests with the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport. My responsibility insofar as housing and planning matters are concerned is to ensure that our housing stock is used in the most appropriate manner.

New planning legislative reforms to regulate the short term letting sector - as provided for in the Residential Tenancies (Amendment) Act 2019 and supplementary regulations which I made entitled the Planning and Development Act 2000 (Exempted Development) (No. 2) Regulations 2019 - came into effect on 1 July 2019.

The primary objective of the legislative changes is aimed at regulating short-term letting through the planning code in the context of its impact on the supply of private rented accommodation particularly in urban centres of high housing demand i.e. rent pressure zones. The planning system facilitates the regulation of such short-term letting uses undertaken by the individual carrying out the activity, i.e. the owner/occupier of the house or apartment, rather than the online platforms. It is worth pointing out that these new planning laws go further than what was proposed by the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Housing, Planning and Local Government when it considered this matter. In fact, they go further than similar laws in most comparable jurisdictions.  

The broader regulation of tourism activity, including the possible development of a new regulatory or licensing/ registration system for commercial platforms and short-term letting agents - as recommended in the final Working Group report on the regulation of short-term lettings - is beyond the scope of the planning code and my remit. However, I have written to my colleague, the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, outlining the recommendations made by the Working Group and highlighting the measures taken by my Department to act upon these recommendations, specifically the introduction of the short-term letting legislation. I advised the Minister that the remaining recommendations of the Working Group fell under the remit of his Department to action, and assured him of my support, and that of my Department, in addressing these outstanding recommendations.

The new planning related arrangements in relation to short-term letting are in their early stages, having only commenced with effect from 1 July last. It is expected that the level of registrations of home-sharing activity will increase over the coming months as word of the new arrangements spreads and as local authority enforcement of the arrangements is stepped up.

Further detailed information on the new arrangements can be obtained at the following weblink:

https://www.housing.gov.ie/planning/private-rented-housing/new-regulation-short-term-letting.

Planning Guidelines

Questions (55)

Maureen O'Sullivan

Question:

55. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the powers invested in local authorities to sanction developers in respect of violations of hours of work, noise and other related matters; if his attention has been drawn to the difficulties faced by residents, particularly in areas such as North Lotts in which there are multiple large-scale developments taking place simultaneously, impacting on quality of life; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45085/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

My role, as Minister, in relation to the planning system is primarily to provide and update the legislative and policy guidance framework. The legislative framework comprises the Planning and Development Act 2000, as amended, (the Act) and the Planning and Development Regulations 2001, as amended.

With regards to policy guidance, my Department has issued a large number of planning guidelines (available on the Department’s website, www.housing.gov.ie) under section 28 of the Act, to which planning authorities and An Bord Pleanála are obliged to have regard in the exercise of their planning functions. My Department also issued a Planning Enforcement Policy Directive in 2013 under section 29 of the Act reminding planning authorities of the critical importance of planning enforcement and the need to assign sufficient and appropriate human resources for this purpose. The day-to-day operation of the planning system is, however, a matter for the planning authorities.

Under planning legislation, enforcement of planning control is a matter for the relevant planning authority which can take action if a development does not have the required permission, or where the terms of a permission have not been met. Under section 30 of the Act, I am specifically precluded from exercising any power or control in relation to any particular case, including an enforcement issue, with which a planning authority or An Bord Pleanála is or may be concerned.

There are extensive enforcement provisions provided for in Part VIII of the Act, with a view to ensuring that works pertaining to permitted developments are carried out in accordance with the planning permission granted and any associated conditions and that no unauthorised development takes place. If a person is of the view that any development works being undertaken are not in compliance with the permission granted - including any violations of hours of work or related matters specified in a condition attached to a permission - or are unauthorised, s/he may make a written complaint to the relevant planning authority who shall investigate the matter and take any appropriate enforcement action. This includes the issuing of a warning letter and, where necessary, an enforcement notice requiring that the development is carried out in conformity with the planning permission and any condition pertaining to that permission.

If an enforcement notice is not complied with, the planning authority may itself take the specified steps and recover the expense incurred in doing so. A planning authority may also seek a Court order under section 160 of the Act, requiring any particular action to be done or not to be done.

I am satisfied that planning authorities have sufficient enforcement powers at their disposal under the existing legislation. Further to the Policy Directive referred to, it is a matter for planning authorities to ensure that they assign appropriate resources for effective planning enforcement.

Residential Tenancies Board

Questions (56)

Eoin Ó Broin

Question:

56. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government his views on the concerns raised in two letters to him by a person (details supplied) regarding a lack of resources available to the Residential Tenancies Board to implement and enforce the new regulations which came into force in July 2019 and the concern that the late fines for landlords that failed to register with the board were not high enough to act as a deterrent. [45237/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

My Department received a revised Workforce Plan from the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) for approval, in anticipation of the new residential tenancy provisions which were in development at the time. As is the practice, my Department has been engaging with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (DPER) to agree the proposed organisation structure. This work has progressed well so far, and over the course of 2019 I have sanctioned an additional 29 staff for the Board to support implementation and enforcement of the provisions contained in the 2019 Residential Tenancies (Amendment) Act. Further engagement regarding the proposed Executive Management Team is ongoing with DPER, enabled by the provision of increased resourcing of a further €2m to the RTB as part of Budget 2020, and bringing its overall allocation for 2020 to €9m.

The Residential Tenancies (Amendment) Act 2019 was enacted on the 24 May 2019. My Department engaged with the RTB throughout the legislative process. The penalty in the published Bill for late registration of tenancies was amended by providing a monthly penalty of €10 for each month, indefinitely, until the tenancy is registered. This directly addressed a concern raised in the RTB Chairpersons letter of 28 February this year.

My Department and the RTB continue to engage on a regular basis to discuss issues of mutual concern.

Homelessness Strategy

Questions (57)

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

57. Deputy Jan O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of children that have no family home in view of the continuing number of persons that are in homeless services; the changes of policy being considered to prevent homelessness before it becomes a reality for persons and families; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44982/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

My Department publishes a monthly report on homelessness. The monthly report is based on data provided by housing authorities on a regional basis and produced through the Pathway Accommodation & Support System (PASS). The report captures details of individuals utilising State-funded emergency accommodation arrangements that are overseen by housing authorities. The most recent report is for September 2019 which showed that there were 1,756 families with 3,873 associated dependants in emergency accommodation in that month.

Supporting families experiencing homelessness is a priority for this Government. In 2016, the Government published the Rebuilding Ireland Action Plan on Housing and Homelessness. Rebuilding Ireland is designed to significantly increase the supply of social housing by 50,000 homes in the period to 2021, double the output of overall housing to at least 25,000 homes per annum by 2020, support all tenure types (social, private and rental), and tackle homelessness comprehensively. Over 27,000 households had their housing need met under Rebuilding Ireland in 2018, with the local authority stock of social housing increased by 8,000, including homes built by local authorities and by Approved Housing Bodies. 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.

This funding also supports the delivery of services to prevent families having to enter emergency accommodation and to ensure that those families in emergency accommodation are supported to identify and secure an independent tenancy within the shortest possible time frame. The HAP Placefinder service has been made available to all local authorities to support households experiencing homelessness or at risk if entering into homelessness, to identify and secure a tenancy in the private rented sector. My Department has approved funding for 23 Placefinder officers nationally.

Rebuilding Ireland is delivering significant results 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.

Further work is being done to prevent families from presenting to homeless services. To strengthen further the rights of tenants in the private rented sector, building on initiatives already taken, the Residential Tenancies (Amendment) Act 2019 was signed into law in May 2019. Among the key provisions of the Bill are measures to empower the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) to investigate and sanction landlords who engage in improper conduct including non-compliance with rent increase restrictions in Rent Pressure Zones (RPZs); the creation of criminal offences for landlords connected with non-compliance with rent increase restrictions in RPZs; and increasing notice periods for tenancy terminations by landlords. In addition, there are now Rent Pressure Zones in 42 areas nationally, in which rent increases are limited to 4 % p.a., and the operation of which has been strengthened further under the Residential Tenancies (Amendment) Act 2019.

Credit Union Lending

Questions (58)

Darragh O'Brien

Question:

58. Deputy Darragh O'Brien asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the timeframe for the review group on establishing a special purpose vehicle to enable credit union funding; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45196/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

The Programme for a Partnership Government recognises the potential role that credit unions can play in housing finance and supported the efforts of the Registrar of Credit Unions at the Central Bank to gradually lift current lending restrictions as appropriate, including for housing.

Credit Union bodies have set out proposed means by which funding could be provided by Credit Unions to Approved Housing Bodies (AHBs) for the development of social housing. This follows on from the amendments introduced by the Central Bank to the regulatory regime within which Credit Unions operate.

Along with my colleague, Minister English, and officials from my Department and the Department of Finance, I have met with the Irish League of Credit Unions (ILCU) and the Credit Union Development Association (CUDA) to examine how their sector can assist in the area of financing social housing delivery. Minister English met with CUDA as recently as 23 October 2019.

Throughout the discussions with the Credit Unions’ representative bodies, my Department has emphasised that while it has provided technical assistance regarding the mechanisms for funding social housing, it is a matter for the Credit Unions themselves to set up special purpose vehicles to enable them to invest in the sector.

For this reason, my Department referred the Credit Unions’ representative bodies to the Irish Council for Social Housing (ICSH) with a view to both sectors sharing, as far as practical, the benefits of their respective work in this area, including the work undertaken by the ICSH on the development of special purpose vehicles for social housing financing purposes. The work of this group was supported by grant funding from my Department.

In parallel with the work undertaken by this group, the ICSH along with six Tier 3 AHBs have worked with financial advisors to establish a funding mechanism/vehicle which would identify suitable sources of non-state finance which could fund the delivery of social housing by AHBs. To date market testing has revealed good interest in lending to the sector from various lenders including Banks, Institutional investors and the Credit Union sector. This work has involved seeking sources of lending based on best value for money.

To date, one AHB has set up a special purpose vehicle; two AHBs have sourced private finance from a private institution and two AHBs are currently examining the possibility of establishing a structure to work collectively.

The Credit Union sector is one potential funder whose terms are assessed as part of the process of market testing to establish best value for money and optimum terms and conditions from lenders. It is now a matter for the relevant parties to agree a workable and mutually acceptable approach.

Social and Affordable Housing Provision

Questions (59)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

59. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if he will consider specific measures (details supplied) to address the ongoing housing shortage; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45181/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

As set out in the Rebuilding Ireland Action Plan on Housing and Homelessness, fixing the Irish housing market and rebuilding the capacity to deliver social and affordable housing across the country requires a multi-faceted approach, which address both the short term immediate needs of families and individuals whilst simultaneously delivering long term solutions. This flexible and responsive approach is the hallmark of Rebuilding Ireland and it is working.

This year we will deliver more than 10,000 new social housing homes through build, acquisition and leasing mechanisms across the country. Next year this figure will be in excess of 11,000. To put this into context, this would represent an almost 100% increase on the delivery of social homes in just four years, compared with the delivery of 5,714 homes through the same mechanisms in 2016.

In addition, the Government's National Development Plan 2018-2027, sets out the Government's commitment to deliver 112,000 social housing homes out to 2027, supported by capital funding of €11.6 billion.

This progress is having a tangible affect on the lives of thousands of households and the most recently available Summary of Social Housing Assessments indicated that the number of households on the social housing waiting list has decreased by 25%.

However, we must also ensure that we meet the housing needs of families and individuals in the short term. At the end of Quarter 2 of 2019, almost sixty thousand households (59,961) have been supported through the Housing Assistance Payment and Rental Accommodation Scheme since the start of Rebuilding Ireland.

These supports are vital and provide security to households and enables them to remain in their homes, under the rights afforded by the Residential Tenancies Act 2004 (as amended), until such time as they move onto either a social home with a local authority or Approved Housing Body or alternatively into the private market, facilitated by additional measures, such as the Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan and the Help to Buy Scheme, which have helped address the housing needs of some 15,000 households.

The provision of affordable housing, either to buy or rent, is being facilitated by the €310 million Serviced Sites Fund (SSF) that runs from 2019 to 2021. The fund is to provide facilitating infrastructure on local authority sites so that more affordable discounted homes can be delivered and I envisage that at least 6,200 affordable homes can be provided through this mechanism. Approval in principle has been granted for funding of approximately €127 million, to support almost 3,200 homes. While more focused on urban areas, and building at scale on local authority sites, the fund remains in place for the provision of housing in all locations where there is a proven affordability challenge. It is anticipated that further calls under the Serviced Sites Fund will be made in due course.

Lastly, the Local Infrastructure Housing Activation Fund (LIHAF) was designed to activate housing supply by putting in place the enabling public infrastructure necessary to ensure that large scale development could take place on key sites in urban areas of high housing demand. Funding of €200 million was originally made available under LIHAF, of which €150 million would be funded by the Exchequer with local authorities to match fund €50 million. 30 projects received final approval, at a total cost of €195.71 million, of which €146.69 million will be funded by the Exchequer with local authorities funding the balance. These projects will stimulate development of approximately 20,000 housing units across 14 local authorities and approximately 7,800 of these homes will be offered a discount on open market prices. To date, according to information provided by Local Authorities, 1,678 housing units have been delivered including 785 cost reduced units.

Vacant Properties

Questions (60)

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

60. Deputy Jan O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of local authorities that have developed and activated vacant homes action plans; the statistical information his Department has on the number of vacant homes in each local authority area; the action that has been advised to local authorities in respect of homes left vacant for long periods of time; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44981/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

Every local authority has prepared a Vacant Homes Action Plan for their administrative area. In August 2017, I requested all local authorities to designate vacant home officers to co-ordinate local actions to address vacancy and also to undertake local vacancy surveys in order to identify, through their Vacant Homes Action Plans, priority "vacancy hot-spot areas" and properties that can be quickly brought back into residential use.

Where local authorities identify a potentially long term vacant residential dwelling, and the owner can be identified, the local authority attempts to engage with the owner on the options available to assist in bringing their properties back into use as liveable housing stock.

Since the launch of Rebuilding Ireland, in the region of 553 vacant homes have been re-introduced to the liveable housing stock, primarily through our Repair and Lease, and Buy and Renew initiatives. Local authorities are also working hard to bring homes back into use by acquiring dwellings in unfinished estates, liaising with financial institutions on their vacant property portfolios and utilising CPO powers to acquire empty properties. These recovered properties aid us in the ongoing effort to meet our commitments under Pillar 5 of Rebuilding Ireland, which sets out a range of measures that try to ensure that Ireland’s existing housing stock is used to the greatest extent possible.

In order to more accurately determine the levels of long-term, vacant but recoverable dwellings that can be re-introduced into the liveable housing stock, the Department, in conjunction with the Housing Agency, the CSO and the local government sector, developed a survey methodology in relation to locating vacant housing and a pilot field-based survey was undertaken across six local authorities.

Each participating local authority visually inspected approximately 1,200 homes, recording the location of potentially vacant properties and, where possible, recording apparent reasons for vacancy and categorising each vacant home (with a view to prioritising those which are most likely to be re-introduced into the liveable housing stock). To identify long-term vacancy, the pilot requires two visual inspections, six months apart, with those houses occupied between the two inspections disregarded.

The participating local authorities have completed their work on the pilot vacancy identification survey and my Department is analysing the results of the survey and considering the outcomes to determine whether there would be significant value in rolling out the survey on a national basis.

I believe that the co-ordinated work of the Vacant Homes Unit in my Department and the local authority Vacant Homes Offices has been and continues to be instrumental in acting as a vital source of information and advice to those who may own homes that are suitable for reactivation. This ongoing liaison between the Department and local authorities, who have crucial local knowledge, allows for more rapid action to tackle vacancy and also provides a clear repository at the coalface for owners of vacant homes who want to bring them back into use.

Social and Affordable Housing Data

Questions (61, 63)

Niamh Smyth

Question:

61. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if he has met either Cavan County Council or Monaghan County Council to discuss the social housing strategies of his Department; the housing targets for new builds in both counties for 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44966/19]

View answer

Niamh Smyth

Question:

63. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of houses acquired and-or purchased by Cavan and Monaghan county councils, respectively, in each of the years 2013 to 2018 and to date in 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44967/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 61 and 63 together.

I meet regularly with the Chief Executives of all the local authorities, including those from Cavan and Monaghan, in relation to the advancement of social housing in line with Rebuilding Ireland. I most recently met the Chief Executives in September 2019, and that followed a Housing Summit I held with them in February 2019.

Further to my meetings with the Chief Executives, follow up meetings have been held between my Department and local authority senior management, which again includes Cavan and Monaghan County Councils. I intend to continue similar contacts in the future.

In March of this year, I wrote to all local authorities setting out their social housing targets for 2019 across all delivery streams. These social housing targets - including for Cavan and Monaghan - are publicly available on the Rebuilding Ireland website at the following link: http://rebuildingireland.ie/news/social-housing-targets-2019/.

Progress against targets is tracked on a quarterly basis. The most recent report sets out the position at the end of Quarter 2 of 2019 and is available on the Rebuilding Ireland website at the following link: https://www.housing.gov.ie/housing/statistics/housing-statistics. Details of the number of houses delivered in each local authority area, including Cavan and Monaghan and including construction and acquisition, are also available at this link. Details relating to delivery in Quarter 3 of 2019 will be published as soon as they are validated.

Approved Housing Bodies

Question No. 63 answered with Question No. 61.

Questions (62)

Darragh O'Brien

Question:

62. Deputy Darragh O'Brien asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the status of the review of the classification of approved housing bodies as on-balance sheet by EUROSTAT; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45195/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

My Department is currently engaging with Approved Housing Body (AHB) sector representative bodies and examining, in detail, proposals which were presented by those bodies, as a possible means to achieve reclassification. In this regard, my Department met with the Irish Council for Social Housing on 16 October 2019 and is scheduled to meet with the Housing Alliance in the coming weeks.

The proposals are complex as they cut across a wide range of social housing policy issues and will require extensive analysis. These engagements are helping to inform a pathway to consider the range of issues involved. As part of this process, my Department is also liaising with the Department of Finance and the CSO to ensure any new or additional information can be brought forward for consideration.

Question No. 63 answered with Question No. 61.

Seanad Reform

Questions (64)

Brendan Howlin

Question:

64. Deputy Brendan Howlin asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if he will report on the work of the Seanad reform implementation group and progress on implementing the recommendations. [43187/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

The all-party Seanad Reform Implementation Group [SRIG] published a Report and draft Bill in December 2018. The Report which contains recommendations in relation to electoral reform, which is the responsibility of my Department, as well as non-statutory reforms to the way the Seanad conducts its business, was noted by Government at its meeting on 30th April 2019. Government also noted that the Report includes four statements from various groups outlining where their position was not in line with recommendations of the Report.

The Government will reflect on the views of the Houses of the Oireachtas in considering the next steps to be taken, following statements in both Houses of the Oireachtas. Statements on the Report of the SRIG were held in the Seanad on 24 September 2019 and are expected to be held in the Dáil on 7 November 2019.

Local Authority Housing Provision

Questions (65)

John Curran

Question:

65. Deputy John Curran asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of housing units he expects to be built by each local authority in 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45009/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

The delivery of social housing homes by local authorities across the country, in collaboration with Approved Housing Bodies, is a key priority for this Government.

Since the launch of Rebuilding Ireland in 2016, local authorities have delivered more than 23,000 (23,768) new social housing homes, through a combination of build, acquisition and lease mechanisms, representing more than 47% of the overall target to 2021. Indeed, this year more than 10,000 new social housing homes will be delivered through these methods and my Department are working very closely with all stakeholders to monitor progress and maximize the delivery of all new social housing homes, including the targeted 6,545 build social housing homes in 2019.

It should be noted that the social housing targets, agreed with each local authority for 2019, have been published on my Department's website at (https://rebuildingireland.ie/news/social-housing-targets-2019/).

Throughout the year, communication and meetings take place between my Department and senior management at each local authority to resolve blockages and identify opportunities to deliver the maximum amount of homes possible each year. This collaborative and responsive approach has been very successful to date, with outputs exceeding targets each year to date since the launch of Rebuilding Ireland.

Social and Affordable Housing Provision

Questions (66)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

66. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if he is considering establishing a national or regional social housing planning and construction agency in view of the slow delivery of new homes by the existing 31 local authorities. [44396/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

Over the course of the Rebuilding Ireland Action Plan, the Government is committed to meeting the housing needs of over 138,000 households. The implementation of Rebuilding Ireland is well underway and making significant progress.

Annual delivery targets were exceeded in 2017 and again in 2018. By end Quarter 2 2019, over 84,000 additional social housing homes had already been provided under the plan.

The level of progress being made is reflected in social housing waiting lists, which have reduced by 25% nationally, from 91,600 households to just over 68,000 between 2016 and 2018.

Substantial funding is in place to deliver on the targets set in Rebuilding Ireland. The Housing Budget for 2019 is €2.4 billion rising to €2.63 billion in 2020, representing an increase of €258 million (+11%) compared to 2019.

My Department continues to engage very intensively with all local authorities to keep momentum on new build output as high as possible. When we examine the pipeline for new development, there are reasons to be optimistic in terms of meeting our ambitious delivery plans for 2019 and beyond. The Construction Status Report covering the period to June 2019 shows that there are now over 22,000 homes in the build pipeline, up more than 8% on quarter 1 of this year.

It should be noted that the number of homes on site at the end of June 2019 was 6,439. Given the healthy pipeline and expected delivery profile over the coming two quarters, I am confident that we are on track to meet our targets.

In order to support housing authorities deliver on their responsibilities and obligations, a number of dedicated structures have been put in place across the country over the last number of years.

A dedicated Housing Delivery Office (HDO) was also established within my Department in September 2017 to support local authorities, approved housing bodies and all stakeholders involved in the delivery of key elements of the ambitious private and social housing targets in the Rebuilding Ireland Action Plan. The purpose of this office is to accelerate and monitor housing delivery, both private and social, on key sites, identify further mechanisms to accelerate delivery, and support the roll-out of complex construction projects, including identifying and resolving barriers to delivery.

The Land Development Agency (LDA) was also established in September 2018 with an immediate focus on managing the State’s own lands to develop new homes, and regenerate under-utilised sites. On establishment, the Agency had access to an initial tranche of 8 sites that have near term delivery potential for 3,000 new homes. The overall objective is for the LDA to be involved in the building of 150,000 new homes over the next 20 years.

Extensive consultation has taken place and is ongoing between the Land Development Agency (LDA) and local authorities. The discussions have centred around how the LDA can assist with the formulation of plans to deliver housing, including social and affordable housing, on local authority owned lands. It is also working with Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council in relation to the delivery of housing on the local authority owned site at Shanganagh.

Approved Housing Bodies (AHBs) are vital for successful delivery of social housing targets and my Department works closely with these bodies on an ongoing basis to support them in the delivery of their social housing programme. The AHB Service Unit was also established within the Housing Agency to provide a centre of excellence and advice for AHBs. This Unit works with local authorities and AHBs to build their capacity and expertise to meet the scale and complexity associated with the ambitious programme of delivery in the Rebuilding Ireland Action Plan.

I believe what is critical at this stage is to ensure that all of the structures already in place are aligned, co-ordinated and co-operating towards a shared vision. This includes my own Department, the Housing Agency and the Housing Finance Agency working with local authorities and approved housing bodies across the country. I am satisfied at this time that appropriate arrangements are in place to deliver much needed social and affordable homes across the country.

Social and Affordable Housing Provision

Questions (67)

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

67. Deputy Jan O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of homes constructed under the rapid build programme in each of the years 2016 to 2018 and to date in 2019; the reason the numbers proposed in Rebuilding Ireland are not being delivered; if efforts to provide homes on publicly owned land through rapid build will be renewed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44980/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

The Government has committed to adding 50,000 new social housing homes to the social housing stock, by end 2021, through build, acquisition and leasing programmes. This is in addition to supporting 88,000 new families and individuals into homes through the Housing Assistance Payment and Rental Accommodation Schemes.

In terms of social housing, the priority in Rebuilding Ireland is to target the delivery of as many social housing homes, as quickly as possible, utilising all the programmes and mechanisms available. This year, €2.4 billion will support the delivery of 10,000 social housing homes and this will increase again in 2020, when over €2.6 billion will support the delivery of over 11,000 homes to the social housing stock.

The rapid delivery programme is one of a suite of delivery programmes and measures in place to support the delivery of social housing homes across the country. At end 2018, 423 social housing homes had been delivered utilising the rapid delivery programme. 22 of these were delivered in 2016, 186 in 2017 and 215 in 2018. A further 215 new social housing homes are expected to be delivered through the rapid delivery programme in 2019. It should be noted that there are now 40 rapid build projects in the pipeline that will deliver some 1,100 homes out to 2021.

My Department continues to work closely with all local authorities in relation to increasing and accelerating the delivery of rapid build methodologies. To support rapid delivery housing, the Office of Government Procurement (OGP) put in place a framework of Rapid Delivery contractors in 2017. This framework is available for all local authorities and Approved Housing Bodies to use in the interest of accelerated delivery.

We have also been working specifically with Dublin City Council on the establishment of a Design Build Contractor Framework to deliver apartments. This framework, which was established recently, has a value of €750 million. It is envisaged that over 1,000 fast-track apartments will be built using this framework, and while the majority of these homes will be advanced across the Dublin area, we are working with other local authorities to advance schemes/projects suitable for volumetric construction.

While the rapid delivery programme represents new challenges to local authorities in relation to forms of contract, design and contract management, the pipeline of rapid delivery projects is continuously strengthening; with more local authorities adopting it as a means of delivery. My Department will continue to encourage, work with and support local authorities and Approved Housing Bodies deliver as many homes utilising this mechanism as possible.

Every effort is being made to provide homes on publicly owned land and the suitability of rapid delivery programme is considered for all social housing projects. Regarding the use public land in general, extensive consultation has taken place and is ongoing between the Land Development Agency (LDA) and local authorities. The discussions have centred around how the LDA can assist with the formulation of plans to deliver housing, including social and affordable housing, on local authority owned lands.

Social and Affordable Housing Data

Questions (68, 1121)

Darragh O'Brien

Question:

68. Deputy Darragh O'Brien asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the average cost of delivering a one, two, three or four-bed social housing unit nationally and in Dublin, respectively; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45199/19]

View answer

Darragh O'Brien

Question:

1121. Deputy Darragh O'Brien asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the average cost of delivering a one, two, three and four bed social housing unit nationally and in Dublin, respectively; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45194/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 68 and 1121 together.

There are a number of variables involved in estimating the cost of providing social housing units, such as the form of delivery, size of unit, land, funding, etc. In terms of construction and 'all-in' costs, the averages as sought for the various sized units, based on full capital costs, are set out in the tables below. These are shown in terms of houses and apartments, both for Dublin and nationally.

HOUSES - DUBLIN

1 bed

2 bed(1 storey)

2 bed(2 storey)

3 bed

4 bed

Construction

€197,850

€207,975

€216,975

€227,275

€243,125

All-in Cost

€258,450

€270,575

€280,675

€292,500

€311,325

HOUSES - NATIONALLY

1 bed

2 bed(1 storey)

2 bed(2 storey)

3 bed

4 bed

Construction

€155,818

€165,132

€174,206

€184,685

€199,491

All-in Cost

€201,359

€212,624

€222,582

€234,571

€252,047

APARTMENTS - NATIONALLY

1 bed

2 bed

3 bed

Construction

€174,159

€189,112

€209,482

All-in Cost

€225,082

€243,476

€267,629

The above figures are based on returned data from tendered social housing schemes over an extended period. ‘Construction’ cost is reflective of building costs (including VAT) and also includes normal site works and site development. ‘All-in Cost’ includes cost of construction, land cost, professional fees, utility connections, site investigations/surveys, archaeology where appropriate, VAT and contribution to public art. Abnormal costs are excluded from these figures.