Carer's Allowance Review

Questions (1111)

Alan Kelly

Question:

1111. Deputy Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the number of half and-or reduced rate carer's allowance reviews carried out in each month from September 2018 to date; the results of the reviews; the number of allowances increased, unchanged and reduced respectively as a result of these reviews in each month in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45424/19]

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Written answers (Question to Employment)

Carer's Allowance (CA) is a means-tested payment, made to a person who is habitually resident in the State and providing full-time care and attention to a child or an adult who has such a disability that they require that level of care. An increased payment can be made where full-time care is being provided to two people.

Before a decision can be made on entitlement to CA, evidence must be provided in respect of the carer’s habitual residence in the State, the level of care they provide, their means and also that the person being cared for has such a disability that they require full-time care and attention.

Carer's allowance reviews take place in a number of circumstances as follows:-

- If the decision on a new claim is negative the customer has the option of a review.

- Once claims are in payment, my Department undertakes periodic reviews as part of its control strategy to ensure that there is continued entitlement.

- A customer can at any stage request a review of their entitlement.

As outlined above, a wide range of reviews are carried out arising from customer requests, together with reviews undertaken by the Department. I am advised that numbers are not readily available with respect to reviews of claims conducted at the request of customers however I can advise the Deputy that:

- 2,905 control reviews were completed in 2018 yielding control savings of some €12.5m.

- 2,914 control reviews were completed to the end of September 2019 yielding control savings of some €15.3m.

I am further advised that while the Department record the number of control reviews undertaking and the saving achieve it does not keep a record of the number who receive increased, decreased or remain unchanged.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Carer's Allowance Eligibility

Questions (1112)

Alan Kelly

Question:

1112. Deputy Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the reason legitimate outgoings such as visits to the cinema, attractions visits, travel expenses, parking and meals for respite care are ineligible for the calculation of the means test for carer’s allowance; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45425/19]

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Written answers (Question to Employment)

The system of social assistance supports provides payments based on an income need. The means test plays a critical role in determining whether or not an income need arises as a consequence of a particular contingency – such as disability, unemployment or caring. This ensures that the recipient has a verifiable income need and that resources are targeted to those who need them most.

By its nature, the means test takes account of the income a person or couple has in terms of cash, property - other than the family home - and capital. It does not take account of a person’s expenditure. In line with most social assistance payments, deductions permitted for carer's allowance include PRSI, union dues, superannuation (pension contributions) and travel expenses. Uniquely in the system, an income disregard of €332.50 per week or €665 for a couple applies to carer's allowance.

Including costs such as visits to the cinema and attractions visits would have significant budgetary implications and would give rise to inconsistencies in how means tests are applied across schemes. It would also significantly increase the complexity of the means assessment. Any changes in this regard would have to be considered in the overall policy and budgetary context.

However, the carer's support grant is an annual non-means tested payment made by my Department to carers. This €1,700 grant may be used in whatever way the carer wishes.

I recognise the crucial role that carers play in Irish society and will continue to seek to improve the supports for carers. However, any changes must be considered in an overall budgetary context.

Invalidity Pension Appeals

Questions (1113)

John McGuinness

Question:

1113. Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if an invalidity pension or long-term illness benefit will issue to a person (details supplied). [45427/19]

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Written answers (Question to Employment)

Invalidity pension (IP) is a payment for people who are permanently incapable of work because of illness or incapacity and who satisfy the pay related social insurance (PRSI) contribution conditions.

To qualify for IP a claimant must, inter-alia, have at least 260 (5 years) paid PRSI contributions since entering social insurance and 48 contributions paid or credited in the last or second last complete contribution year before the relevant date of their claim. Only PRSI classes A, E, H or S contributions are reckonable for IP purposes.

A claim for IP was received from the gentleman concerned on 30 October 2018. His claim was disallowed on the grounds that the contribution conditions for the scheme were not satisfied. Specifically, he does not have the required 260 contributions paid since he entered social insurance. He was notified on 07 August 2019 of this decision, the reason for it and of his right of review and appeal.

He requested a review and lodged an appeal of the decision. Following a review of all the information available it has been decided that there is no change to the original decision. The gentleman concerned was notified on 30 October 2019 of the outcome of the review and a submission was prepared by the department and forwarded to the independent Social Welfare Appeals Office for determination.

The gentleman referred to was in receipt of disability allowance (DA) payment but this payment has been stopped from 10 April 2019 as he no longer satisfies the Habitual Residence Conditions. He has appealed the decision to stop his DA payment to the Social Welfare Appeals Office.

The person concerned was in receipt of Illness Benefit (IB) from August 2007 to April 2017 when he commenced DA payment. My Department is carrying out a full review of his entitlement to IB and he will be informed of the outcome as soon as the review has been completed.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

State Pension (Contributory) Eligibility

Questions (1114)

John McGuinness

Question:

1114. Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if an application with supporting letters and work and family history for a State pension (contributory) by a person (details supplied) will be re-examined taking all matters outlined by the person into consideration; and if a positive outcome will be expedited. [45431/19]

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Written answers (Question to Employment)

The person concerned applied for State pension (contributory) on 21 March 2019, and was assessed as having 362 paid full-rate social insurance contributions. As their contributions fall short of the required 520 paid full-rate contributions to qualify for State pension (contributory), the claim was disallowed. The person was notified in writing of this decision on 10 June 2019, and provided with a copy of their social insurance record on which the decision was based.

If the person concerned had other periods of insurable employment or self-employment, which they consider should be recorded, it is open to them to forward details to my Department and the matter will be examined.

The interim Total Contributions Approach (TCA) to pension calculation, announced in January 2018, includes provision for homecaring periods, but does not alter the qualifying conditions for State pension (contributory) and will not assist any person whose claim was disallowed for failure to fulfil the legislative condition of having a minimum of 520 paid full-rate contributions.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Local Employment Service

Questions (1115)

Brendan Griffin

Question:

1115. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the position regarding a matter (details supplied) in respect of a review; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45445/19]

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Written answers (Question to Employment)

The Local Employment Services are contracted by my Department on an annual basis to provide activation services to those on the Live Register, as well as “drop-ins” to these services. These contracts are reviewed annually to ensure they are fit-for-purpose in the context of the Irish labour market, as well as providing value for money for taxpayers.

Indecon, in its reviews of the LES and Job Clubs published in January, recommended the Department consider the introduction of multiannual contracts and a competitive procurement process for future provision of these services. The Department has also received legal advice to the effect that renewing the LES and Job Clubs contracts annually, without any movement towards competitive procurement, is no longer sustainable.

In September, my Department published a Request for Tender for consultancy services, to provide advice and support regarding the future of the State’s public employment service and assist with the procurement of contracted public employment services in Ireland, covering the period 2021-2025. It is anticipated that the successful tenderer will provide the Department with a final report in the second quarter of 2020.

In the interim, no changes will be made to the contracting process for the Local Employment Services and bids to provide services for 2020 will be invited and considered in the usual manner.

I am on the record in recognising the valuable work performed by Local Employment Services. It is my view that, within the parameters of current procurement rules, any future procurement process give due recognition to the ability to deliver high quality, locally-based services. Indeed, it is in everyone's' interests - jobseekers, service providers and the State - to ensure, insofar as it is possible, that experienced employment service providers with a strong community ethos continue to form a core part of our employment services infrastructure.

Irish Water Funding

Questions (1116)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

1116. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the amount transferred to Irish Water in funding from the Exchequer in the past five years to date; the projected amount to be transferred to Irish Water over the next decade from central funds; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44630/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

State Funding provided to Irish Water over the past 5 years is set out in following table:

Year

2014

2015

2016

2017

2018

Total

€m (to nearest)

900

495

836

1,200

1,100

4,531

The Irish Water Strategic Funding Plan 2019-2024 sets out Irish Water’s multi-annual strategic business planning funding requirement of €11bn to 2024, comprised of a €6.1bn investment in infrastructure and assets and €4.9bn in operating costs. This funding requirement will be met through a combination of non-domestic revenue including new connections revenue, domestic excess usage charges, non-domestic borrowings, government subvention and capital contributions.

Furthermore, Irish Water’s capital investment of over €8bn is projected over the lifetime of the National Development Plan 2018-2027.

Energy Efficiency

Questions (1117)

John Brady

Question:

1117. Deputy John Brady asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the funding allocation that will be given to local authorities in 2020 and 2021 for phase 2 of energy efficiency works; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44761/19]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

My Department has operated an Energy Efficiency Retrofitting Programme for local authority social housing since 2013, under which over 70,700 social homes have been insulated to date with funding support from the exchequer of some €139 million. The budget for this programme in 2019 is €25m.

I am pleased to say support for this important programme will continue in 2020, with a further €25 million being made available in grant aid to the local authorities, but with an additional €20 million to be allocated for 2020 to provide for energy efficiency renovations for social housing homes in the midlands. The budget for 2021 is not yet decided and will be subject to the annual estimates process.

My Department will commence working with local authorities shortly regarding their work proposals and funding requirements for 2020, following which allocations will be made. The number of social homes to be targeted in 2020, and for subsequent years, will depend on the work proposals and priorities submitted from the local authorities.

Energy Efficiency

Questions (1118)

John Brady

Question:

1118. Deputy John Brady asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government his plans to provide deep retrofitting for social housing stock in County Wicklow over the next five years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44762/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

My Department has operated an Energy Efficiency Retrofitting Programme for local authority social housing since 2013, under which over 70,700 social homes have been insulated to date with funding support from the exchequer of some €139 million. The budget for this programme in 2019 is €25 million. Under the scheme to date Wicklow County Council have retrofitted over 1,900 units of their social housing stock with funding support from my Department of over €5.3 million.

I am pleased to say support for this important programme will continue in 2020, with a further €25 million being made available in grant aid to the local authorities. The budget for 2021 and beyond is not yet decided and will be subject to the annual estimates process.

My Department will commence working with all local authorities shortly regarding their work proposals and funding requirements for 2020, following which allocations will be made. The number of social homes to be targeted in 2020, and for subsequent years, will depend on the work proposals and priorities submitted from the local authorities.

Local Authority Members' Remuneration

Questions (1119)

Robert Troy

Question:

1119. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the qualifying criteria for serving Members of Dáil Éireann to receive termination payments from a local authority. [44837/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

Section 142 of the Local Government Act 2001 and the Local Authority Members (Gratuity) Regulations 2002 to 2006 provide that, subject to certain conditions, a councillor who ceases to be a member of a local authority is entitled to receive a gratuity payment at, or after, the age of 50. This is regardless of whether the retirement is voluntary, as a result of failure to be re-elected or for any other reason, such as being elected to be a member of Dáil Éireann following the abolition of the dual mandate in 2004.

Where a person ceases to be a member of a local authority before age 50, the gratuity will be paid when the person reaches age 50. The Regulations allow the gratuity to be paid before age 50 where retirement is due to permanent infirmity or where the member dies in office.

The representational payment to councillor's is currently €17,359 per annum with effect from 1 September 2019. The gratuity is calculated as 4/20ths of a councillor’s representational payment for each year of service, from 4 May 2000, subject to a maximum twenty years’ service. The gratuity amount is calculated based on the amount of the representational payment either at the time of retirement or when the former member reaches the qualifying age of 50.

Water Quality

Question No. 1121 answered with Question No. 68.

Questions (1120)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

1120. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the progress of compliance with the EU Water Framework Directive; the headings in which Ireland falls under the required acceptable thresholds for surface and groundwater; the steps he is taking to improve a score (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45313/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

Under the EU’s Water Framework Directive my Department has a lead role in developing and implementing policies to protect our water. Ireland’s River Basin Management Plan (RBMP) 2018-2021, available on www.housing.gov.ie, outlines the measures the Government and other sectors are taking to improve water quality in Ireland’s groundwater, rivers, lakes, estuarine and coastal waters during the period 2018 - 2021.

Key actions include investment in management measures to address agricultural and waste water discharges, the two most significant pressures on waters, including significant investment by Irish Water in wastewater infrastructure. The Government has also invested significantly in the establishment of a Catchment Science Unit within the EPA and the Local Authorities Water Programme to drive the targeted implementation of management measures.

The progress made in relation to compliance with the EU Water Framework Directive quality objectives since the first plan was published in 2010 can be viewed in the EPA report on Water Quality 2017, published in 2018, available on www.epa.ie. An updated report will be published shortly. While it is too early yet to see significant water quality improvements as a result of management measures in this plan, the new targeted approach focused on high risk areas of catchments is expected to bring about an improvement in water quality over the coming years.

With regard to compliance with the Directive generally, Ireland received a Letter of Formal Notice from the European Commission on 24 January 2019 which raised a significant number of broad and complex issues in relation to the legal transposition of the Directive. My Department is liaising with the European Commission with regard to progressing specific areas for action under the infringement.

Question No. 1121 answered with Question No. 68.

Homeless Persons Data

Questions (1122)

Mick Barry

Question:

1122. Deputy Mick Barry asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of persons that have entered homelessness since the implementation of Rebuilding Ireland; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44231/19]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

My Department’s role in relation to homelessness involves the provision of a national framework of policy, legislation and funding to underpin the role of housing authorities in addressing homelessness at the local level.

Monthly homelessness data reports are produced by housing authorities using the Pathway Accommodation & Support System (PASS), the single integrated national data information system on State-funded emergency accommodation arrangements overseen by housing authorities. My Department collates this information into monthly national homeless reports, which are available on my Department’s website at the following link: http://www.housing.gov.ie/housing/homelessness/other/homelessness-data. The reports do not currently provide information on the number of people who entered emergency accommodation.

Supporting individuals and 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. In 2018, 8,000 new social homes were delivered nationally and this year, a further 10,000 new social homes will be delivered.

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.

Housing Assistance Payment Data

Questions (1123)

Mick Barry

Question:

1123. Deputy Mick Barry asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of preventative HAP payments granted based on notices of termination and on homelessness; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44232/19]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

In order to further assist homeless households in exiting emergency accommodation all local authorities have, since January 2018, been provided with the option to pay deposits and advance rental payments for any households in emergency homeless accommodation, or who are at immediate risk of entering emergency accommodation, in order to secure accommodation via the HAP Scheme. The HAP Place Finder service is a targeted support for homeless households who may find it difficult to secure HAP tenancies.

To qualify for these specific additional supports available to homeless households, a household must have been determined by the relevant local authority to be homeless within the meaning of section 2 of the Housing Act 1988. The operation of local homeless services, including the Place Finder service, is a matter for each local authority.

The information requested in respect of payments being required on foot of specific circumstances is not currently available in my Department. However, the Place Finder service has been successfully utilised by local authorities, with more than 6,200 households supported by the Homeless HAP scheme in the Dublin region up to the end of Q2, 2019. Nationally, the corresponding figure is over 8,100 households.

Homeless Persons Supports

Questions (1124)

Mick Barry

Question:

1124. Deputy Mick Barry asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the average length of stay in homeless hubs; the costs incurred in respect of hubs; his plans for the opening of further hubs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44233/19]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

My Department’s role in relation to homelessness involves the provision of a national framework of policy, legislation and funding to underpin the role of housing authorities in addressing homelessness at local level. Statutory responsibility in relation to the provision of emergency accommodation and related services for homeless persons rests with individual housing authorities.

Rebuilding Ireland, the Government's Action Plan on Housing and Homelessness, includes the objective that hotels will only be used in limited circumstances as emergency accommodation for families. To meet this objective, housing authorities are pursuing the delivery of a range of additional and enhanced family-focused facilities, or family hubs, which offer greater stability than is possible in a hotel, until such time as a home can be secured.

There are currently 29 hubs operational nationally, offering approximately 680 units of family accommodation. Of these hubs 23 are in Dublin, with one each in Clare, Cork, Galway, Kildare, Limerick and Louth. It is expected that further facilities will become operational during the remainder of 2019 and into 2020, details of which will become available as projects are finalised by the housing authorities.

In general, the operation of family hubs is contracted out by local authorities, under service level agreements, to NGOs involved in the delivery of homeless services. Local authorities and NGO service providers work with families in family hubs to secure tenancies in the shortest timeframe possible. Data on the average length of stay in family hubs is not available in my Department.

My Department is providing capital funding to local authorities to support the development of family hubs. In 2017 and 2018 capital payments amounting to €8.74 million and €21.96m, respectively, were made in respect of family hubs. The funding to be provided in 2019 and 2020 will be dependent on the progress made by local authorities on the development of additional family hubs.

In relation to the operational funding for the family hubs, my Department provides funding to housing authorities on a regional basis towards the operational costs of homeless accommodation and related services. Under the funding arrangements, housing authorities must provide at least 10% of the cost of services from their own resources. Housing authorities may also incur additional expenditure on homeless related services outside of the funding arrangements with my Department. Therefore, the exact amounts spent by housing authorities on homeless services, as well as the types of accommodation and the service providers engaged, are a matter for those authorities. Financial reports from each of the regions, setting out expenditure on homeless services, including family hubs, in each region in 2018, are published on my Department's website at the following link: https://www.housing.gov.ie/search/sub-type/financial-report .

Local Authority Housing Eligibility

Questions (1125)

Robert Troy

Question:

1125. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if a request by Westmeath County Council to move from band 3 to band 2 for social housing income limits will be considered (details supplied). [44297/19]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

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.

Energy Efficiency

Questions (1126)

Robert Troy

Question:

1126. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government when details of the social housing retrofit scheme targeted at the midlands region will be released to each local authority following its inclusion in budget 2020; and his views on whether details of the scheme need to be supplied in advance of the completion of local authority budgets for 2020. [44298/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

A budget of €20million has been allocated for 2020 to provide for energy efficiency renovations for social housing homes in the midlands.

My Department is currently exploring and considering arrangements for the scheme in question and once that work is completed, details of the scheme and its impact, if any, on local authority budgets will be notified to those local authorities, as soon as possible.

Housing Adaptation Grant

Questions (1127)

Robert Troy

Question:

1127. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if he will include the provision of a pathway around a home in the housing adaption works for persons with a disability scheme for 2020 (details supplied). [44299/19]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

Under the Housing Adaptation Grant Scheme for Older People and People with a Disability, there is currently no restriction on the provision of a pathway, where necessary, to allow access to a home.

The detailed administration of the scheme, including the assessment, approval and prioritisation of grants to applicants under the various measures, is the responsibility of the local authorities. It should be noted that any application for the provision of a pathway would require an assessment by an Occupational Therapist, recommending the works.

Traveller Accommodation

Questions (1128, 1132)

Eoin Ó Broin

Question:

1128. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if a caravan rental or rent-to-buy scheme that will provide residential standard mobile homes for Travellers will be developed. [44344/19]

View answer

Bríd Smith

Question:

1132. Deputy Bríd Smith asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if a caravan rental or rent-to-buy scheme will be developed that will provide residential standard mobile homes for Travellers. [44555/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 1128 and 1132 together.

My Department commissioned the Housing Agency to conduct a comprehensive review of the scheme of loans and grants for caravans that had been in operation since 2000. The Housing Agency surveyed all local authorities and engaged in broad consultation with all key stakeholders. A report on the review was submitted to my Department in 2017.

On foot of the review, I requested that my Department consult with the National Traveller Accommodation Consultative Committee and other relevant stakeholders to consider the development a revised scheme of loans and grants having regard to the recommendations contained in the review. This consultation is ongoing. Further to this, my Department has recently completed an economic assessment of a number of different funding options for the provision of affordable, good quality caravans to Travellers, which is being considered presently.

More broadly, my Department and I, are considering the recommendations made by the Expert Group on Traveller accommodation with a view to implementing appropriate actions and policies that will improve the delivery of Traveller accommodation nationally and help to ensure that full use is made of the increasing level of funding available for investment in Traveller accommodation. The recommendations by the Expert Group are comprehensive and wide ranging, and I will seek to ensure that any revised caravan scheme will align with the recommendations and values of the Expert Group report, as closely as possible.

Local Authority Housing Funding

Questions (1129)

Gino Kenny

Question:

1129. Deputy Gino Kenny asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if funding has been provided for the construction of 69 units on Griffeen Avenue, Lucan, between Foxborough Lawn and Tor An Rí Walk, following Part 8 planning approval in April 2019 by South Dublin County Council; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44368/19]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

In March 2019, my Department received a proposal from South Dublin County Council for the construction of 74 homes at the above site. As the estimated cost of the scheme is expected to exceed €20 million, the local authority, as the Sponsoring Agency, is required to submit a Cost Effectiveness Analysis (CEA) in line with the Public Spending Code, prior to receiving approval in principle to proceed with the project. It is understood from the Council that a revised scheme to provide 69 homes at the site, has received Part 8 planning approval.

According to the Council, the CEA is currently being finalised and will be submitted to the Department shortly. On receipt of the CEA, my Department will assess the documentation, in conjunction with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, with a view to issuing funding approval at the earliest opportunity.

Planning Issues

Questions (1130)

Willie Penrose

Question:

1130. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the position regarding land that has been rezoned; the period of time within which building thereon must take place; the penalties that arise for failure to utilise zoned land that has been specifically zoned for residential purposes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44433/19]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

The zoning of land is a statutory function of the relevant local authority under the Planning and Development Act 2000 (as amended). Section 10 (2)(a) of the Act provides that a City or County development plan shall include objectives “for the zoning of land for the use solely or primarily of particular areas for particular purposes (whether residential, commercial, industrial, agricultural, recreational, as open space or otherwise, or a mixture of those uses), where and to such extent as the proper planning and sustainable development of the area, in the opinion of the planning authority, requires the uses to be indicated”.

A new development plan for each local authority must be made every six years. In accordance with Section 10 (8) of the Planning and Development Act 2000 (as amended), “There shall be no presumption in law that any land zoned in a particular development plan (including a development plan that has been varied) shall remain so zoned in any subsequent development plan”.

The zoning of land does not confer automatic permission for development to take place and any potential development on zoned land must be subject to the planning application process in accordance with Part III of the Planning and development Act 2000 (as amended). There is not, therefore, a specified period of time within which building on zoned land must take place.

It is open to local authorities to apply a vacant site levy to land zoned for residential purposes in certain circumstances, under the provisions in the Urban Regeneration and Housing Act 2015. A vacant site levy of 3% of the market value of the relevant vacant site may be applied where a site exceeds 0.05 hectares in area; is in the planning authority’s opinion vacant or idle in the year preceding; is in an area identified by the planning authority for residential development and; meets certain other specified criteria including whether the land is serviced by infrastructure. Further to Budget 2018, the rate of the levy was increased to 7% for sites on a local authority vacant sites register from 2019 onwards.