Disability Support Services Funding

Questions (349)

Pearse Doherty

Question:

349. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the amount allocated to and spent from, respectively the reasonable accommodation fund in each of the past five years. [52423/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

The Reasonable Accommodation Fund aims to assist both jobseekers with disabilities and private sector employers seeking to employ or retain a person with a disability, by providing a range of grants.

The scheme in particular seeks to assist jobseekers with disabilities to gain access to the open labour market by providing grants to support private sector employers.

In summary the grants available are:

Workplace Equipment /Adaptation Grant, which provides funding to make the workplace more accessible.

Job Interview – Interpreter Grant, which is a grant for an interpreter to accompany, for example, a person with hearing loss to a job interview.

Personal Reader Grant, which provides funding for a personal reader to assist someone who is blind or visually impaired in their work.

Employee Retention Grant Scheme, which aims to help employers retain employees who acquire a disabled.

The Reasonable Accommodation Fund is a demand-led scheme in that expenditure arises in direct response to applications received. The value of the grants provided in the past five years is set out in the table below.

It is important to note, that the Comprehensive Employment Strategy for people with disabilities revised action plan was published recently by the Department of Justice and Equality. Within the plan there is a commitment by my department to undertake a focused policy review of the reasonable accommodation fund and this has commenced.

Table: Value of the grants provided under the Reasonable Accommodation Fund 2015 to 2019.

Year

2015

2016

2017

2018

2019 to Nov

Workplace equipment and adaptation grant

€58,108

€54,041

€69,254

€100,023

€70,506

Personal reader grant

€11,866

€16,537

€31,619

€12,338

€6,720

Job interview interpreter grant

€3,950

€7,244

€5,714

€6,361

€10,571

Employee retention grant

€0

€0

€0

€1,900

€0

Total

€73,925

€77,822

€106,587

€120,622

€87,796

Social Welfare Benefits Data

Questions (350)

Martin Heydon

Question:

350. Deputy Martin Heydon asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the estimated cost of setting up an administrative regime in order that the approximately 150,000 qualified adults who receive the qualified adult payment at the same rate as at present directly from her Department rather than through the payment of another person. [52498/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

An Increase for a Qualified Adult is an additional payment made to social welfare recipients in respect of a spouse, civil partner or cohabitant who is financially dependent on them. This additional payment is means-tested.

The Department estimates that payments will be made in respect of an average of 150,000 Qualified Adults per week in 2020, across various working age schemes, as well as pensions.

Making payments directly to Qualified Adults and, as such, treating them as social welfare customers in their own right, would have administrative cost implications across various functions of the Department.

The Department's various schemes are operated through a network of Intreo offices and centralised scheme areas. The main components of workflow in the Department’s processing sections are claim processing, maintenance, control activity and dealing with enquiries. These functions are supported by inspectors and employment services, as appropriate, and by shared infrastructure and IT systems. The latter systems deliver various aspects of claim processing and payments, including means assessment. In addition, certain scheme administrative costs are also incurred centrally including accounts, payment costs by external agencies such as An Post, policy development, social welfare appeals, medical assessors and training.

I am advised that it is not possible to disaggregate the specific administration costs for particular schemes, or specific groups of recipients, given the level of costs which are borne centrally and the number of staff who are engaged, on one level or another, in the administration and support functions of more than one scheme, and for more than one group of recipients.

As such, it is not possible to provide an estimated cost for amending the current system to ensure that Qualified Adults across all schemes receive the payments currently made to their spouse, cohabitant or civil partner directly.

Parental Leave

Questions (351)

Martin Heydon

Question:

351. Deputy Martin Heydon asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the estimated cost of increasing parent’s benefit by one week in each of the years 2021 to 2025; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [52500/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

In Budget 2019 I announced the introduction of a new social insurance based parent’s benefit scheme, which took effect in November 2019. The new scheme provides two weeks leave to both parents, including those who adopt a child, who are employees or self-employed and who take parent’s leave from their employment to care for their child. This is in addition to existing maternity, paternity and adoptive leave entitlements. The scheme supports parents during the first year of the child's life, in line with the Programme for Government commitment.

Based on existing take up of maternity and paternity benefit, two weeks parent’s benefit is estimated to cost approximately €32m in a full year. It estimated that each additional week of parent’s benefit will cost €15.8m in a full year. The estimated full year cost of increasing parent’s benefit by one week in each of the years 2021 to 2025 is provided in the following table. The Deputy is advised that there would also be additional costs for employers covering substitution pay costs.

Year

Weeks

2020

2 Weeks

€31.6m

2021

3 Weeks

€47.4m

2022

4 Weeks

€63.2m

2023

5 Weeks

€79m

2024

6 Weeks

€94.8m

2025

7 Weeks

€110.6m

This Government values families and I intend to build on this new parent’s benefit and gradually extend the amount of benefit available up to nine weeks for each parent.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Social Welfare Benefits Data

Questions (352)

Tom Neville

Question:

352. Deputy Tom Neville asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the estimated cost of increasing the contributory and non-contributory pensions by €5 in each of the years 2021 to 2025. [52519/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

The estimated year-on-year cost of increasing all contributory and non-contributory pensions by €5 per week (with proportionate increases for qualified adults), based on the projected number of recipients in each year is detailed in the following table.

2021

2022

2023

2024

2025

Total Cost

Cost of €5 increase

€172.0m

€172.8m

€189.9m

€199.7m

€219.7m

€954.1m

It should be noted that this costing is subject to change in the context of emerging trends and associated revision of the estimated numbers of beneficiaries each year to 2025.

Social Welfare Benefits Data

Questions (353, 354)

Tom Neville

Question:

353. Deputy Tom Neville asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the estimated additional cost in 2021 if the pension age remains at 66 instead of 67 years of age; and the estimated additional cost in each of the years 2022 to 2025 as a result of that decision. [52520/19]

View answer

Tom Neville

Question:

354. Deputy Tom Neville asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the estimated additional cost in 2021 if the pension age remains at 66 years of age and the contributory and non-contributory pensions also increase by €5; and the estimated additional cost in each of the years 2022 to 2025 of a further €5 increase with the pension age remaining at 66 years of age. [52521/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 353 and 354 together.

In order to provide for sustainable pensions and to facilitate a longer working life, successive Governments have considered the sustainability challenges faced by the Pensions system as a result of changing demographics in Ireland.

In 2007, Minister Cullen launched the Green Paper on Pensions, which proposed raising the Pension Age. This was followed by a major public consultation exercise.

Three years later, in 2010, Minister Hanafin launched the National Pensions Framework which, following a Government decision, set out the agenda of changes in the State Pension Age in 2014, 2021 and 2028.

This strategy was enacted via legislation introduced by then Minister Burton and passed in 2011 which provides for an increase in the State pension age in three separate stages. In 2014, the State pension age was standardised at 66. This will be increased to 67 in 2021 and 68 in 2028. The Roadmap for Pensions Reform 2018-2023 has stated that future changes in State pension age after 2035 will be based on research into life expectancy. This is in keeping with similar measures introduced by most EU and OECD countries.

This sustainability is vital, if the current workers, who fund State pension payments through their PRSI, are to receive a pension themselves when they reach retirement age. It is the only feasible solution which does not involve reducing pension rates to pensioners (which would result in an increase in the rate of poverty among older people), or reducing other significant areas of Government expenditure (such as other payments made by my Department).

It is estimated that the gross cost to the State Pension (Contributory) of postponing the increase in State Pension Age would be approximately €430m per annum, but the net cost is closer to €217.5 million per annum, and is expected to increase. The estimates factor in secondary costs such as foregone PRSI receipts and additional Household Benefit payments.

Therefore the additional estimated net cost to the SIF of a decision to retain State Pension Age at 66 for the period 2021 - 2025 would be around €1.1 Billion.

We further estimate that an increase of €5 per week to recipients of the SPC and the SPNC would cost c. €160 million in 2021.

Given the long timeframe and prospective demographic changes it is very difficult to estimate the cumulative cost of further €5 annual increases over the period 2021 - 2025 for SPC and SPNC recipients but would certainly be in the order of €3 Billion.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Domiciliary Care Allowance Applications

Questions (355)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

355. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the position regarding an application for a domiciliary care allowance in the case of a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [52547/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

The lady concerned is in receipt of Domiciliary Care Allowance (DCA) for two children, one since 2015 and one since 2017; there is no other application for DCA pending at this time.

The child who is in payment since 2015 was amongst a number of DCA cases randomly selected earlier this year for a review of their continued entitlement to the payment. Those selected were asked to complete a review form and return it to the department within 5 months, which this lady has recently done.

The review of the child's continued eligibility to DCA will be completed as soon as possible, payment will continue as normal while this review is completed. Notification of the outcome of the review process will issue to her in due course.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Rent Supplement Scheme Payments

Questions (356)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

356. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if information will be noted in the case of a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [52548/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

According to the records of my Department the rent supplement claim for the person concerned was reviewed in April 2019. In this application the landlord confirmed a monthly rent of €400 per month and this was assessed against a State Pension Non-Contributory of €237 per week.

In several answers to Parliamentary Questions raised by the Deputy the person concerned was advised that if there had been a change in circumstance since the last review it was open to him to seek a review of his Rent Supplement entitlement.

On 28/11/19 the necessary review documents were received in my Department from the person concerned. Following completion of a review the monthly Rent Supplement rate was increased to €370 per month.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Carer's Allowance Eligibility

Questions (357)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

357. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if a person (details supplied) qualifies for a carer's allowance in lieu of the discontinued ADA on the pension of their spouse; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [52549/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

Carer's allowance (CA) is a means-tested social assistance payment, made to persons who are providing full-time care and attention to a person who has such a disability that they require that level of care.

The department informs me that there is no application by the person concerned for CA registered. If the person in question wishes to make an application, she should complete and return an application form (CR1) to CA section in the social welfare services office, Longford, as soon as possible.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Defective Building Materials

Questions (358)

Jack Chambers

Question:

358. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if he is considering establishing a redress scheme for faulty apartment developments in which there are fire hazards; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52181/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

I want to acknowledge the very stressful circumstances which owners and residents face when defects occur in their homes. In general building defects are matters for resolution between the contracting parties involved, that is the homeowner, the builder, the developer and/or their respective insurers, structural guarantee or warranty scheme.

The State has no general statutory role in resolving defects in privately owned buildings, including dwellings. Nor could the taxpayer afford such a role. It is not possible for the State to take on responsibility/liability for all legacy issues nor would it send the right message to the industry regarding their responsibility for compliance.

Local authorities have extensive powers of inspection and enforcement under the Building Control Acts, the Fire Services Acts, the Housing Acts and the Planning and Development Acts, to ensure that parties discharge their statutory responsibilities.

In relation to developments where concerns over fire safety issues arise, when a building is constructed and occupied, statutory responsibility for safety is assigned by section 18(2) of the Fire Services Acts, 1981 & 2003, to the ‘person having control’ of the building. The person having control is required to take reasonable measures to guard against the outbreak of fire and to ensure the safety of persons in the event of fire. In multi-unit developments, the "person having control" is generally the Owner Management Company.

Under the Multi-Unit Developments Act 2011, (which is under the remit of the Minister for Justice and Equality), the owner management company must establish a scheme for annual service charges and a sinking fund for spending on refurbishment, improvement or maintenance of a non-recurring nature of the multi-unit development.

In the interest of supporting owners and residents living in developments where concerns regarding non-compliance with fire safety requirements arise, it was agreed that a review be undertaken by an independent fire expert to develop a framework for general application. In August 2017, the Framework for Enhancing Fire Safety in Dwellings was published, which is intended to be used as a guide by the owners and occupants of dwellings where fire safety deficiencies have been identified, or are a cause for concern. The Framework will also be of assistance to professional advisors, both in developing strategies to improve fire safety and in developing strategies to enable continued occupation in advance of undertaking the necessary works to ensure compliance with the relevant Building Regulations. The Framework is available on my Department's website at the following link:

www.housing.gov.ie/sites/default/files/publications/files/framework_for_enhancing_fire_safety_in_dwellings.pdf.

Departmental Budgets

Questions (359)

Pearse Doherty

Question:

359. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the capital allocation of his Department in each of the years 2020 to 2025; and the areas to which funds will be allocated in each year. [52214/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

The capital allocations for my Department over the period 2020-22, as announced in Project Ireland 2040: National Development Plan 2018-2027, are set out below (no specific Departmental allocations were made in respect of 2023-25):

Capital Allocations 2020-22 (€m)

2020

2021

2022

Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government

2,226

2,269

2,280

The recently published Budget 2020 Expenditure Report which details the DHPLG Abridged Estimates (PART III), including Capital Expenditure by programme can be viewed at the following link:

http://budget.gov.ie/Budgets/2020/Documents/Budget/Parts%20I-III%20Expenditure%20Report%202020%20(B).pdf.

Details of the DHPLG Capital Expenditure for 2020 by programme are set out in the following table:

2020 Gross DHPLG Capital Expenditure (Abridged Estimate)

€000

A - HOUSING

1,455,937

B - WATER SERVICES

628,412

C - LOCAL GOVERNMENT

14,542

D - PLANNING

118,494

E - MET ÉIREANN

9,000

TOTAL

2,226,385

These funding allocations will be used to advance capital investment across a range of programme areas within my Department’s remit, including local authority housing, voluntary housing, estate regeneration, the Local Infrastructure Housing Activation Fund, urban regeneration and development, water and wastewater services, and fire and emergency services. Details of specific allocations towards individual programmes will be finalised as part of the annual Estimates processes, as normal.

Planning Issues

Questions (360)

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

360. Deputy Fergus O'Dowd asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government further to Parliamentary Question No. 174 of 25 September 2019, if progress has been made on same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52307/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

My Department is currently drafting Regulations to further amend the exempted development provisions of the Planning and Development Regulations 2001, which are required to be made prior to the commencement of section 8 of the Planning and Development (Amendment) Act 2018 in order to facilitate the operation of this amendment. Due to the complexity of some of the issues arising, my Department has had to seek legal advice regarding the draft Regulations, which it is considering and progressing. I expect to be in a position to sign the Regulations and Commencement Order in early 2020.

My Department will continue to engage with the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine in relation to the associated amendments to the Forestry Regulations 2017, to be made by my colleague, the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine.

Architects Register

Questions (361)

Maureen O'Sullivan

Question:

361. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government further to Parliamentary Questions Nos. 268 of 23 January 2019 and 873 of 5 February 2019, if transparent income and expenditure accounts have been received from an organisation (details supplied); and if so, when overdue registration accounts will be made available for independent scrutiny. [52372/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

The RIAI publishes an annual report each year which is available on its website at the following link:

www.riai.ie/about/riai_annual_reports/ .

This includes a certified financial report with details of income and expenditure. In addition, its annual return is filed with the Companies Registration Office.

Earlier this year my Department engaged with the RIAI on this matter and they have since provided a more detailed Directors’ report and financial statements which have been independently audited. These have been provided to all RIAI members (over 3,000). In addition, these reports have also been provided to those architects who are members of the registration body and are not RIAI members.

My Department is satisfied that the RIAI is fulfilling its’ role as the registration body for architects in accordance with the requirements of the Building Control Act 2007.

Valuation Office

Questions (362)

Martin Heydon

Question:

362. Deputy Martin Heydon asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the level of delay being experienced in the Valuation Office appeals system; the steps being taken to address backlogs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52378/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

The Valuation Tribunal is an independent body under the Valuation Acts of 1988 and 2001. It deals with appeals against decisions of the Commissioner of Valuation on the valuation of commercial properties for rating purposes and appeals against determinations of market value on derelict sites or vacant sites made by local authorities under the Derelict Sites Act 1990 and the Urban Regeneration and Housing Act 2015.

The Tribunal currently comprises 31 members.

The tribunal has experienced unprecedented levels of appeals in recent years in the context of the National Revaluation Programme being carried out by the independent Commissioner for Valuation. This has resulted in a significant number of appeals on hands at the tribunal. A number of measures have been taken in order to support the processing of appeals by the Tribunal and more are planned. The Tribunal has recently updated its rules and a new Registrar has recently been appointed to, inter alia, lead on this modernization agenda.

Furthermore, one of the new provisions introduced under the Valuation (Amendment) Act, 2015 is that appeals may be determined by a single member of the Tribunal based on written documentation obviating the need to holding a hearing. The Tribunal has identified a number of appeals suitable for disposal in this manner which should ensure that many appeals can be dealt with expeditiously. This process has commenced.

The Tribunal introduced a call over system to facilitate a more efficient listing of appeals and ensure better use of the Tribunal time. The call over system alerts the Tribunal to appeals that may be resolved, identifies cases that are ready to proceed so that hearing dates can be assigned and affords the chairperson or deputy chairperson an opportunity to discuss the progress of appeal with the parties’ representatives and give to such directions as may be warranted to the parties to progress the appeal. The introduction of the call over system has made a positive impact on the efficient listing of appeals and is kept under constant review.

The further streamlining of appeals is a major priority for 2020.

Departmental Expenditure

Questions (363)

Niall Collins

Question:

363. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of credit cards issued to Ministers and officials working in his Department; the amount spent on credit cards in each year since 2016; the bank interest paid on credit cards in each year since 2016; the controls in place to monitor the issuing of and the expenditure on the cards; the controls in place in each agency to monitor expenditure on personally held credit card bills that are subsequently used to recoup work-related expenses; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52405/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

My Department does not have any credit cards issued to Ministers or officials. My Department operates a Purchase Card system, which was implemented in July 2019 and was drawn down from the Office of Government Procurement framework agreement for the provision of purchasing card programmes to the Irish Public Sector. The Purchase Cards replaced credit card use in my Department.

The information requested is set out in the following table:

2016

2017

2018

2019 (Nov)

Credit Cards

Number of Cards

5

3

5

5

Card Charges

€130

€128

€172

€193

Amount Spent

€23,778

€15,418

€12,632

€26,732

Purchase Cards

Number of Cards

N/A

N/A

N/A

20

Card Charges

N/A

N/A

N/A

€0

Amount Spent

N/A

N/A

N/A

€6,416

The credit card information in this table is up until September 2019 at which point all credit cards were cancelled. The purchase card information only begins in July 2019. There was an overlap period of 3 months during the purchase card implementation process. There was no interest charged in the period concerned.

My Department has a Purchase Card Policy which includes, inter alia, an application process for issuing purchase cards that must be approved by senior management and an expenditure monitoring and approval process.

The monitoring and controlling of credit cards in agencies under the aegis of my Department is a matter for the individual agencies 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

Vacant Sites Data

Questions (364)

Michael McGrath

Question:

364. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of notices issued by each planning authority regarding the vacant site tax in tabular form; if the progress of each planning authority in identifying vacant sites is being monitored; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52437/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

While application of the vacant site levy is a matter for individual local authorities, my Department monitors the implementation of the levy with a view to ensuring that it is being effectively applied, in line with its intended purpose of incentivising the development of vacant or under-utilised sites in urban areas.

To support this work, my Department issued Circular PL 09/2019 on 13 November 2019 requesting a second progress report on implementation of the Vacant Site Levy, including information on the number of notices issued, to be completed by the Director of Planning in each Local Authority and returned to my Department by 4 December 2019.

My Department has received the majority of these progress reports and is currently following up on any outstanding returns in order to obtain a complete national picture. At the same time, information received to date is being collated and reviewed. The information requested by the Deputy will be made available once all outstanding returns have been received, collated and examined by my Department.

My Department will continue to engage proactively with local authorities with a view to ensuring that the vacant site levy achieves its full potential in terms of bringing concerned sites into productive use.

Planning Issues

Questions (365)

Thomas Pringle

Question:

365. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government when he plans to remove the planning restrictions on roof-top solar for households and businesses. [52479/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

Under the Planning and Development Act 2000, as amended (the Act), all development, unless specifically exempted under the Act or associated Regulations, requires planning permission. Section 4 of the Act and Schedule 2 of the Planning and Development Regulations 2001, as amended, set out various exemptions from the requirement to obtain planning permission. Any such exemptions are subject to compliance with any general restrictions on exemptions set out in the Act or the Regulations and to the specific conditions set out in each class of exempted development in Schedule 2 of the Regulations.

With regard to exemptions for solar panels, Class 2 of Part 1 of Schedule 2 of the Regulations provides an exemption for "the installation or erection of a solar panel on, or within the curtilage of a house or any buildings within the curtilage of a house", subject to certain siting and size conditions.

Class 56 of Part 1 of Schedule 2 of the Regulations provides an exemption for "the installation or erection on a business premises or light industrial building, or any ancillary buildings within the curtilage of such premises or building, of solar panels (thermal collector or photo-voltaic)", subject to certain siting and size conditions.

My Department is currently undertaking a review of the solar panel exemptions, and is actively engaging with the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment and other key stakeholders, with a view to finalising a proposal for draft amending Regulations - to reflect technical developments in the sector - before the end of 2019. As required under planning legislation, any such proposed exempted development regulations must be laid in draft form before the Houses of the Oireachtas and receive a positive resolution from both Houses before they can be made.

Housing Finance Agency Funding

Questions (366)

Pat Deering

Question:

366. Deputy Pat Deering asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the cost in 2018 and to date in 2019 as a result of the Housing Finance Agency drawdown of long-term debt to fund the Rebuilding Ireland home loan scheme; and the expected future cost. [52490/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

The Housing Finance Agency (HFA) raises long-term fixed rate finance, as needed, for on-lending by local authorities for Rebuilding Ireland Home Loans (RIHL). The HFA advanced €62m and €178m in RIHL to local authorities in 2018 and 2019, respectively.

Borrowing costs relating to the financing of the RIHL scheme by the HFA are included in the lending rate to local authorities (1.50% for 25-year fixed), which includes an administrative margin of circa 0.10-0.15%. Any future RIHL business is likely to be lent on the same basis.

Local Authority Staff Recruitment

Questions (367)

Pat Deering

Question:

367. Deputy Pat Deering asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the estimated cost to a local authority of hiring a grade seven member of staff in year one and then for four subsequent years. [52492/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

The pay scales for a Grade 7/Administrative Officer, with effect from 1st September 2019, are outlined in the following table. Incremental credit is generally given for each year of service in the role, on the anniversary of appointment. Additional costs that are borne by the employer include Employers PRSI and Superannuation contributions.

Grade 7 - Administrative Officer

Point

01/09/2019

1

€49,835

2

€51,054

3

€52,479

4

€53,906

5

€55,336

6

€56,611

7

€57,918

8

€59,184

9

€60,445

LSI 1

€62,611

LSI 2

€64,786

Repair and Leasing Scheme

Questions (368, 369)

Pat Deering

Question:

368. Deputy Pat Deering asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the cost of the repair and leasing scheme in 2018; and the expected cost in 2019 and 2020. [52495/19]

View answer

Pat Deering

Question:

369. Deputy Pat Deering asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the estimated cost of extending the repair and leasing scheme to properties for long-term private rent. [52496/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 368 and 369 together.

The Repair and Leasing Scheme (RLS) was developed to assist private property owners and local authorities or approved housing bodies (AHBs) to harness the accommodation potential that exists in certain vacant dwellings across Ireland. RLS has both capital and current funding streams. The capital element funds the repairs to the property; the current element funds the lease payment to the property owner with the cost of the repairs being recovered from the property owner by offsetting it against the lease payment - annual payments include the ongoing cost of lease payments and costs of new properties brought into the scheme over the course of the year.

At the end of Q3 2019, a total of 1,510 applications for the Repair and Leasing Scheme (RLS) had been received from property owners; 129 homes had been brought back into use and were tenanted; and 155 agreements for lease had been signed. These statistics as well as year-end current and capital spends, broken down by LA, can be found on my Department's website at the following link:

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

Data in relation to full year RLS activity in 2019 will be available and published on my Department's website early in 2020.

The budget allocation for RLS in 2020 is €10.7 million and I expect local authorities and approved housing bodies to continue to operate the scheme locally. I have no plans to extend the scheme to the private market at this time.