Social Welfare Benefits Applications

Questions (404)

Willie Penrose

Question:

404. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection her plans to ensure that an application for a contributory widower's pension by a person (details supplied) will be processed as quickly as possible; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [50947/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

The person concerned has been awarded a maximum rate widower's & surviving civil partner's contributory pension with effect from the 13th December 2019. In addition, the fuel allowance was awarded at the current weekly rate of €22.50

The person concerned has been notified of the decision. Payment will commence at their nominated Post Office from 13th December.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Rent Supplement Scheme Review

Questions (405)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

405. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if a review in respect of a rent allowance payment will be completed in the case of a person (details supplied); when they will receive notification in regard to changes made to the payment; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [50974/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

Following completion of a recent review of rent supplement for the person concerned, the monthly rent supplement rate has been increased to €370 per month.

A letter advising the person concerned of the outcome of his rent supplement review and of the requirement to provide evidence that he is on the housing list with Kildare County Council issued in the post on 3/12/19.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Carer's Allowance Applications

Questions (406)

Thomas Pringle

Question:

406. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection when a decision will issue on a carer's allowance application by person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [51007/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

Carer's allowance (CA) is a means-tested social assistance payment made to a person who is habitually resident in the State and who is providing full-time care and attention to a child or an adult who has such a disability that as a result they require that level of care.

Additional information in relation to the person’s application was requested by a deciding officer on 3 December 2019.

Once the information is received the application will be processed without delay and the person concerned will be notified directly of the outcome.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

State Pension (Contributory) Applications

Questions (407)

Willie Penrose

Question:

407. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the steps she will take to ensure that a State pension application by a person (details supplied) is dealt with. [51012/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

The person concerned applied for State pension (contributory) on 12 June 2019 and has now been awarded the maximum rate of pension.

The person was notified in writing of this decision on 2 December 2019, together with details of payments due from 16 November 2019, his 66th birthday.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Pyrite Remediation Programme

Questions (408)

Robert Troy

Question:

408. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the reason County Westmeath was not included in the pyrite remediation scheme in 2013 in view of the fact the two bordering counties of Offaly and Meath were included (details supplied). [50670/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

The Pyrite Resolution Act 2013 provides the statutory framework for the establishment of the Pyrite Resolution Board and for the making of a pyrite remediation scheme to be implemented by the Board with support from the Housing Agency.

The provisions of the Act apply only to dwellings affected by significant damage attributable to pyritic heave consequent on the presence of reactive pyrite in the subfloor hardcore material and not to damage arising in any other circumstance, e.g. such as pyrite in concrete blocks. 

The pyrite remediation scheme is a scheme of “last resort” for affected homeowners who have no other practical option to obtain redress and is limited in its application and scope. The full conditions for eligibility under the scheme are set out in the scheme which is available on the Board’s website, www.pyriteboard.ie.

The scheme is applicable to dwellings, which are subject to significant damage attributable to pyritic heave established, in accordance with I.S. 398-1:2017 - Reactive pyrite in sub-floor hardcore material – Part 1: Testing and categorisation protocol.  In this regard, it is a condition of eligibility under the scheme that an application to the Board must be accompanied by a Building Condition Assessment with a Damage Condition Rating of 2.  Dwellings which do not have a Damage Condition Rating of 2 are not eligible to apply under the scheme.  This ensures that, having regard to the available resources, the focus of the scheme is on dwellings which are most severely damaged by pyritic heave.  I have no proposals to amend this eligibility criterion.

As matters currently stand, the position is that the scheme is based on the information that was available to the Board at the time of its adoption in February 2014 and having regard to the detail set out in the Report of the Pyrite Panel (July 2012). 

The Panel undertook a desktop study, in conjunction with a stakeholder consultation, to establish certain facts in relation to the potential exposure of pyrite in dwellings.  The information was gathered from a number of sources including local authorities, structural guarantee providers, representatives of homeowners, private builders, construction professionals and public representatives and was cross referenced to verify, as far as practicable, its validity.

Seventy four estates were identified to the Pyrite Panel, as possibly having pyrite.  At that time all of these estates were located in the five local authority areas of Dublin City, Fingal, Kildare, Meath and Offaly, although the scheme was subsequently amended in February 2015 in the light of relevant information that emerged in the local authority areas of Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown and South Dublin with regard to pyritic heave in a small number of housing developments, i.e. one development in each of the two local authority areas.

Any proposal to amend the scheme is, in the first instance, a matter for the Pyrite Resolution Board and any such proposal would require detailed consideration of the evidence. The recommendations of the Pyrite Panel, which informed the establishment of the pyrite remediation scheme, were premised on a number of pertinent factors.  I would support the view that similar factors would need to be examined by the Pyrite Resolution Board in advance of extending the scheme to other areas, given the scheme is ultimately one of last resort.

As a minimum, in order to consider the appropriateness or otherwise of amending the scheme, I understand that the Board would require a report addressing the following information:

- the extent and severity of damage to dwellings in the local authority area caused by pyritic heave in the subfloor hardcore;

- verification, if available, that the damage has been caused by pyrite;

- the background to the occurrence of the damage;

- details of any structural warranty policies for the dwellings;

- the history of the estate’s construction, numbers, type of dwellings etc;

- the source of the hardcore supplied to dwellings in the estate; and

- any supporting geological assessments.

In addition to the above, the Board may also make such further enquiries as it considers necessary in order to assist it in considering the matter.  In this regard, it would be advisable for the residents to confirm the nature of the pyrite problems in the area, i.e. do the problems stem from reactive pyrite in the subfloor hardcore material which is giving rise to pyritic heave and consequential significant pyritic damage. 

The Board may be contacted by phone at Lo call 1890 252842 or by email to info@pyriteboard.ie or alternatively at oireachtasinfo@pyriteboard.ie

Local Authority Housing

Questions (409)

Richard Boyd Barrett

Question:

409. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council will be instructed to buy the homes of tenants in receipt of a notice to quit at a location (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50676/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

Funding is available to all Local Authorities from my department to acquire homes on a targeted basis for Social Housing use.  Ultimately, it is the local authorities that identify housing need in their area and oversee and prioritise the development of appropriate responses to meet this need. My Department does not prescribe how this is implemented at local authority level.

Fire Stations Upgrade

Questions (410)

Seán Fleming

Question:

410. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government when additional facilities will be provided for a fire station (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50702/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

The provision of a fire service in its functional area, including the establishment and maintenance of a fire brigade, the assessment of fire cover needs and the provision of fire station premises, is a statutory function of individual fire authorities under the Fire Services Act, 1981.  My Department supports fire authorities through setting general policy and progressing legislation, providing a central training programme, issuing guidance on operational and other related matters and providing capital funding support for equipment and priority infrastructural projects. 

In February 2016, my Department announced a five-year Fire Services Capital Programme with an allocation of €40 million, based on an annual €8 million allocation, to be used for the purchase of fire appliances and specialist equipment, the building or upgrading of priority Fire Stations, an upgrade of the Communications and Mobilisation system and improvements to Training Centres. The five-year programme proposed the construction or refurbishment of twenty-six fire stations. This included sixteen new builds and ten upgrade or refurbishment projects.

The Fire Services Capital Programme forms an important part of my Department’s strategy to support fire authorities in the development and maintenance of a quality fire-fighting and rescue service. The prioritisation and effective management of these resources is, in the first instance, a matter for each of the fire authorities based on their assessment of local needs and requirements.  My Department works closely with fire services around the country to progress priority projects.

In order to maximise the Capital Programme funding available, my Department re-assesses the status of projects in the capital programme on an annual basis and priority can be adjusted to bring forward more advanced projects offering best value-for-money taking account of the state of readiness of projects in the programme more generally.

I understand there was an historic project application in relation to the fire station in Rathdowney that didn't eventually progress as proposed and that in 2017, Laois County Council put in place an extension on to Rathdowney Fire Station, consisting of separate male and female toilets, a shower cubicle and a new muster bay. While a fire station project for Rathdowney is not included in the current five-year programme referred to above, both Rathdowney and Stradbally are on the list for inclusion in annual reviews. My Department will have regard to Laois County Council’s priorities and the totality of requests from fire authorities countrywide for funding in considering any proposal.

Housing Agency Data

Questions (411)

Darragh O'Brien

Question:

411. Deputy Darragh O'Brien asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of Rebuilding Ireland home loans approved; the number of loans drawn down; the average loan approved; the amount approved; the draw down in this regard; and the number of loan applications rejected by the Housing Agency in each of the months since the scheme was introduced by county in tabular form. [50714/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

The Housing Agency provides a central support service which assesses applications for the Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan on behalf of local authorities and makes recommendations to the authorities to approve or refuse applications. Housing Agency recommendations are then considered by the Credit Committee in each local authority, which issues loan approvals. 

Each local authority must have in place a Credit Committee and it is a matter for the Committee to make the final decision on applications for loans, in accordance with the regulations, and having regard to the recommendations made by the Housing Agency.

 I have asked the Agency to compile figures on the numbers of applications that it has assessed and recommended to approve since the scheme began.  In 2018, the Housing Agency assessed 3,036 valid applications.  Of these, it recommended 1,550 for approval. For 2019, as of end-October 2019, the Housing Agency have assessed 2,271 valid applications of which 1,133 have been recommended for approval.

Local Authority  

Total Applications Assessed  

Total Applications Recommended for Approval  

Carlow County Council

73

28

Cavan County Council

24

9

Clare County Council

87

36

Cork City Council

217

96

Cork County Council

414

209

Donegal County Council

51

22

Dublin City Council

610

368

Dún Laoghaire - Rathdown County     Council

142

78

Fingal County Council

756

424

Galway City Council

109

58

Galway County Council

194

63

Kerry County Council

144

59

Kildare County Council

200

107

Kilkenny County Council

61

31

Laois County Council

125

61

Leitrim County Council

19

5

Limerick City & County   Council

143

85

Longford County Council

55

26

Louth County Council

152

59

Mayo County Council

82

32

Meath County Council

324

212

Monaghan County Council

64

21

Offaly County Council

58

23

Roscommon County Council

59

23

Sligo County Council

72

34

South Dublin County Council

373

194

Tipperary County Council

152

67

Waterford City & County   Council

115

39

Westmeath County Council

56

34

Wexford County Council

161

80

Wicklow County Council

215

100

Total

5,307

2,683

 My Department publishes information on the overall number and value of (i) local authority loan approvals and (ii) local authority loan drawdowns. Local authority approval means that an official letter of offer has been sent to a borrower (and therefore relates to a specific property and loan amount). Information on the RIHL for Quarter 2 2019, including in relation to the number and value of mortgage approvals and drawdowns, is available on the Department's website at the following link:

http://www.housing.gov.ie/housing/statistics/house-prices-loans-and-profile-borrowers/local-authority-loan-activity.

Proposed Legislation

Questions (412)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

412. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government when he will publish the electoral commission Bill; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50746/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

The establishment of an Electoral Commission is a key commitment in the Programme for a Partnership Government.  An Electoral Commission will bring together several electoral functions in an independent, dedicated public body.

The Electoral Commission’s establishment is guided by a number of recent reports and public consultation processes, including:

- the 2016 report of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Environment, Culture and the Gaeltacht on the Consultation on the Proposed Electoral Commission; and

- the Regulatory Impact Analysis (RIA) and public consultation concerning the establishment of an Electoral Commission, which was completed my Department earlier this year.

The submissions received as part of these processes expressed support for the establishment of an Electoral Commission on a statutory basis and initial assignment of a limited number of functions, with a view to assigning further functions over time.

The Government approved the establishment of a statutory Electoral Commission on 17 July 2019, and the drafting of the General Scheme of an Electoral Commission Bill is at an advanced stage in my Department. I expect completion of the General Scheme by the end of this month and, subject to the approval of Government to the drafting of the Bill, pre-legislative scrutiny and publication of an Electoral Commission Bill to follow in 2020.

Electoral Register

Questions (413, 419)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

413. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government when he will publish the electoral (amendment) Bill to provide for the modernisation of the electoral registration system; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50747/19]

View answer

Denise Mitchell

Question:

419. Deputy Denise Mitchell asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if he has considered reforming the voter registration process to a more accessible online registration model such as is used in the UK and other European countries; his views on whether the current model is a possible impediment to persons registering to vote; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50976/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 413 and 419 together.

While the existing electoral registration system has served us well and enjoys a high level of public confidence, successive Oireachtas Committees as well as external reports have identified a number of improvements that could be made to the process. 

In March 2017, the Government decided that work should commence on modernisation of the voter registration process. This project will give effect to improvements that, along with improving our national registration process, could also ultimately facilitate the registration of voters resident outside the State in the event of the referendum on extending the franchise in Presidential elections being passed. 

The key policies being proposed are largely based on recommendations by the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Environment, Culture and the Gaeltacht in its Report on the establishment of an Electoral Commission, published in January 2016.  This report considered the electoral register in some detail in the context of it being a function for the proposed Electoral Commission.  

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 a report on the consultation will be published shortly.  The seven key policy proposals included in the consultation document are:

- The simplification of the registration process and the forms used ;

- The introduction of a rolling electoral register, rather than the current annual one;

- Optional online registration and secure self-service;

- A move to individual registration only;

- Enabling a single national electoral register database with unique identifiers;

- A move to verified identity using one’s Personal Public Service Number (PPSN); and

- The provision for some limited data sharing between public bodies and electoral registration authorities to maintain accuracy and comprehensiveness.

As well as proposing the removal of the provision that requires an edited register to be produced, further policy proposals have also been put forward with the aim of making the register more accessible to all citizens.  These are:

- provision of a system of anonymous registration for people whose safety may be at risk if their details are included on the register available for inspection;

- improved provision for registration for those with no-fixed address;  and

- pre-registration for 16-17 year olds, with the registration becoming active on their 18th  birthday.

The responses to the consultation are informing ongoing work in my Department on various aspects of the project, including, most immediately, the development of a simplified, standardised registration form.

As part of the consideration of the provision of an optional online platform for individuals to update their details, my Department is currently working with the Dublin local authorities to arrange an independent evaluation of their Voter.ie platform. This evaluation will assess its suitability for a national roll out.  In the run up to the electoral events in May of this year, voter.ie provided Dublin electors with an option to manage their register information online.  This was an option, in addition to the standard paper form, available to those with a Public Services Card and a related MyGovID.  Dublin City consider the pilot to have been a success with some 16% of applications being made via the portal.  

The Government will shortly consider this suite of policy proposals set out in the consultation document and the responses received. Preparation of a General Scheme of an Electoral Amendment Bill will then be progressed as soon as possible to give legislative effect to the proposals agreed by Government.

Constitutional Amendments

Questions (414)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

414. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government when he plans to hold the referendum to extend voting rights to Irish citizens living abroad in presidential elections; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50748/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

The Thirty-ninth Amendment of the Constitution (Presidential Elections) Bill 2019 was published by the Tánaiste on 16 September 2019 and has been initiated in Dáil Éireann.  My colleague, Minister Murphy, made an order establishing a Referendum Commission on 26 September 2019.

When the Bill is passed by both Houses of the Oireachtas, section 10 of the Referendum Act 1994 requires the Minister to make an order appointing the day upon which the poll for the proposed referendum will take place.  The Act provides that the polling day shall be not less than thirty days and not more than ninety days after the date of the order.

Departmental Staff Data

Questions (415)

Seán Fleming

Question:

415. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of persons employed on an agency basis in his Department and in each agency under his aegis; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50807/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

There are no staff employed on an agency basis in my Department.

The details requested in relation to bodies under the aegis of my Department are a matter for the individual bodies concerned.  Arrangements have been put in place by each Agency to facilitate the provision of information by State Bodies directly to members of the Oireachtas.  The contact email address for each agency is as below:

Agency 

Email   address 

An Bord Pleanála 

Oireachtasqueries@pleanala.ie 

Ervia, Gas Networks Ireland 

oireachtas@ervia.ie 

Housing Sustainable Communities Agency 

publicreps@housingagency.ie 

Housing Finance Agency 

oireachtas.enquiries@hfa.ie 

Irish Water 

oireachtasmembers@water.ie 

Local Government Management Agency 

corporate@lgma.ie 

Ordnance Survey Ireland 

Oireachtas@osi.ie 

Property Registration Authority    

reps@prai.ie 

Pyrite Resolution Board 

oireachtasinfo@pyriteboard.ie 

Residential Tenancies Board 

OireachtasMembersQueries@rtb.ie 

Valuation Office 

oireachtas.enquiries@VALOFF.ie 

Land Development Agency  

oireachtas@lda.ie 

Office of the Planning Regulator  

oireachtas@opr.ie 

Urban Regeneration and Development Fund

Questions (416)

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

416. Deputy Fergus O'Dowd asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government when the letter of offer will be sent to Louth County Council on the Westgate vision plan which has been supported through the urban regeneration and development fund; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50845/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

In 2018, bids were invited from public bodies for funding support from the Urban Regeneration and Development Fund (URDF) either under Category A, for projects that were proposed as being ready to be initiated, or under Category B, as projects that required further consideration and development.

Louth County Council was approved URDF support of €476,000 in respect of preliminary costs, including technical assistance, for the design and planning associated with the ‘Westgate Vision’ for Drogheda.  A letter confirming approval in principle issued to Louth County Council on the 18 June 2019.

The advancement and completion of this Category B project is, in the first instance, a matter for Louth County Council.  It will also be a matter for the Council to consider the advancement of subsequent elements of the wider project, and whether additional funding support should be sought for them under a future URDF call for proposals.  

Meteorological Services

Questions (417)

Willie Penrose

Question:

417. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the estimated full-year cost of recruiting six extra full-time meteorologists and six extra full-time meteorological posts in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50949/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

Meteorologists in Met Eireann are recruited through a mix of open and internal competitions.  The open competitions are administered by the Public Appointments Service who absorb their recruitment costs.  

The Meteorologist grade is also a promotional grade for Met Eireann staff; internal promotion competitions are run by my officials as part of their duties without any additional cost.

The annual salary cost for a meteorologist depends on where they are placed on the official Meteorologist salary scale.  In the case of staff recruited to the civil or public service on or after 6th April 1995, that salary scale runs from €32,716 to €78,816 over a period of 16 annual increments.  In the case of staff recruited prior to 6th April 1995, the salary scale runs from €34,178 to €75,011 over 14 annual increments. 

There are a range of professional and technical posts/grades within Met Eireann including Meteorological Officer, Senior Meteorological Officer, Principal Meteorological Officer, Meteorologist, Hydrometeorologist and Senior Meteorologist, each having its own salary scale. The salary costs will vary, depending on the grade.

Electoral Commission Administration

Question No. 419 answered with Question No. 413.

Questions (418)

Denise Mitchell

Question:

418. Deputy Denise Mitchell asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the estimated cost to establish an annual cost to run an independent electoral commission on a permanent basis. [50975/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

The establishment of an Electoral Commission is a key commitment in the Programme for Partnership Government.  An Electoral Commission will bring together several electoral functions in an independent, dedicated public body.

The Government approved the establishment of a statutory Electoral Commission on 17 July 2019, and the drafting of the General Scheme of an Electoral Commission Bill is at an advanced stage in my Department.

The Electoral Commission’s establishment is guided by several recent reports and public consultation processes, including:

- the 2016 report of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Environment, Culture and the Gaeltacht on the Consultation on the Proposed Electoral Commission; and

- the 2018 Regulatory Impact Analysis (RIA) concerning the establishment of an Electoral Commission in Ireland, and related public consultation which was completed by my Department earlier this year.

The RIA set out four options for the Commission’s establishment, having regard to a commission's legislative status and the functions that might be assigned to it, and included cost estimates in respect of each option.

The aforementioned Government decision of 17 July 2019 to proceed with the establishment of a statutory Electoral Commission with a limited number of initial functions, with a view to assigning further functions over time, aligns with the RIA's identified option 3. The related cost estimates are set out in the RIA, which are available on my Department's website at the following link:

https://www.housing.gov.ie/sites/default/files/public-consultation/files/18.11.27_-_ria_-_electoral_commission_final_-_english.pdf.

Question No. 419 answered with Question No. 413.

Electoral Reform

Questions (420)

Denise Mitchell

Question:

420. Deputy Denise Mitchell asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the specific voter incentive schemes he has considered; if an "I Voted" sticker scheme or similar has been considered; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50977/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

Whenever an election or referendum takes place, my Department places advertisements in the national papers advising eligible voters who are not registered to vote to take the opportunity to apply for inclusion in the supplement to the register of electors so that they can take part in that election or referendum. In the case of referendums specifically, the role of any Referendum Commission established for that referendum includes the promotion of public awareness of the referendum and the encouragement of the electorate to vote at the poll. My Department also undertakes an annual poster campaign to encourage voters to ensure that they are registered to vote.

In July 2019 the Government approved the establishment of a statutory Electoral Commission.  A General Scheme of an Electoral Commission Bill is currently being prepared in my Department and I expect that it will be completed before the year-end.  It is envisaged that a voter education function will be assigned to the Electoral Commission.  This would involve the development of ways to increase participation in our political processes through voter education.  It will be a matter for the Electoral Commission to examine any existing schemes, when developing any new voter education programmes.

Social and Affordable Housing Eligibility

Questions (421)

Willie Penrose

Question:

421. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if the housing income limit for eligibility to be considered for social housing will be reviewed in the context of ongoing developments; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51011/19]

View answer

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.

Civil Aviation Regulation

Questions (422)

Paul Kehoe

Question:

422. Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the regulations that apply to the installation of civilian helipads. [51013/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

Under planning legislation, all development requires planning permission unless it is exempted development.  There is no specific exemption provided for civilian helipads in the Planning and Development Act 2000 as amended, or its associated Planning and Development Regulations.

Where a question arises on whether development is or is not development, or is or is not exempted development, any person may seek a declaration from the Planning Authority under section 5 of the Planning and Development Act, 2000, as amended.

A planning authority that is in receipt of a section 5 application is required to make its decision in respect of the application within four weeks of the date of receipt of the application. A decision made by a planning authority in respect of such an application may be appealed to An Bord Pleanála.

Local Authority Housing Provision

Questions (423)

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

423. Deputy Jan O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the sites owned by Louth County Council that were purchased by the local authority since 2000 for the purpose of developing public housing; if public or voluntary housing has been constructed on the sites; the purchase price of each individual site and the year each site was purchased by the council; the amount of moneys owed capital and interest on loans taken out for the purchase of each site; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51069/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

The purchase and sale of assets including land, and the subsequent use or disposal of same is a matter for individual local authorities and my Department would not be in a position to comment on same.

My Department supports local authorities in the development of their lands for social housing under a wide range of funding schemes and the pipelines of activity are published on a quarterly basis on the Rebuilding Ireland website at the following link: 

https://rebuildingireland.ie/news/minister-murphy-publishes-social-housing-construction-status-report-for-q2-2019-2/.

As can be seen from the Quarter 2 2019 Construction Status Report, Louth County Council had an overall programme of 96 schemes or phases of schemes, delivering over 1,000 new build homes under Rebuilding Ireland. 432 homes had been completed since 2016, 322 were onsite at end June, and the remainder were progressing through various stages of approval. The Quarter 3 2019 Report will be published shortly and is expected to demonstrate further expansion of the overall pipeline of activity.

Social Housing Statistical Outputs dating back to 2000 are also available on my Department's website at the following link:

https://www.housing.gov.ie/housing/social-housing/social-and-affordble/overall-social-housing-provision.