I propose to take Questions Nos. 1344 and 1345 together.
The Dwellings Damaged by the Use of Defective Concrete Blocks in Construction (Remediation) (Financial Assistance) Regulations 2020 have been made under sections 2 and 5 of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1979 to provide for a grant scheme of financial assistance to support affected homeowners in the counties of Donegal and Mayo to carry out the necessary remediation works to dwellings that have been damaged due to defective concrete blocks.
The regulations came into operation on 31 January 2020 and my Department is currently in the process of finalising guidelines, which will be available in the coming weeks, to promote and support a consistent approach to the operation and administration of the scheme by Donegal and Mayo County Councils, which would allow for the receipt of applications to commence without delay.
I have not received correspondence from Mayo County Council in relation to changing the provisions of the scheme. It is important to note that the full terms and conditions of the scheme, including the making of the regulations referred to above, were finalised in consultation with the Attorney General's Office and the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform. This process took account of the comprehensive engagement that took place between my Department and both Donegal and Mayo County Councils, who will operate and administer the scheme.
The defective concrete blocks grant scheme is primarily a grant scheme of financial assistance to support affected homeowners to carry out the necessary remediation works to dwellings that have been damaged due to defective concrete blocks. The scheme outlines five remedial options ranging from rebuilding on existing foundations to replacing of external walls. The maximum approved costs per dwelling under the scheme range from €55,000 to €275,000, depending on the remedial option. A grant of 90% of the approved costs associated with the necessary remediation works, subject to a maximum for each remedial option, or 90% of the actual cost of the remedial works, whichever is the lesser, is available under the scheme.
The scheme is targeted at assisting a restricted group of homeowners who have no other practicable options to access redress. It is not a compensation scheme and the regulations apply only in respect of qualifying works that have not commenced prior to confirmation of grant approval being issued in respect of a dwelling by the relevant local authority. Homeowners cannot seek the recoupment of costs associated with the remediation of a dwelling undertaken either prior to the commencement, or outside, of the scheme. This is in line with how similar Government schemes operate or have operated in the past, where prior approval is a key eligibility requirement.
Budget 2020 provides funding of €40 million to fund the operation of the pyrite remediation scheme and the defective concrete blocks grant scheme this year. Funding for future years will be agreed on an annual basis as part of the normal Estimates process. Mindful that the scheme is being funded from the Exchequer, the scope of the scheme cannot be open ended. The funding available must be used prudently to achieve the most efficient and cost effective outcomes.