Social and Affordable Housing

Questions (353)

Alan Dillon

Question:

353. Deputy Alan Dillon asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage the level of funding under the affordable housing scheme that will be allocated to County Mayo in 2021; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38502/20]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

Budget 2021 made available total funding of €3.3 billion for the delivery of housing programmes. Of that sum, €468 million will be specifically provided to support housing affordability measures. This includes the Serviced Sites Fund (SSF), the Local Infrastructure Housing Activation Fund (LIHAF), the Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan and the Land Development Agency (LDA).

In relation to the delivery of more affordable homes to purchase or rent by local authorities, the Serviced Sites Fund is available to support the cost of facilitating infrastructure on local authority sites. The purpose of the SSF is specifically targeted at those local authorities where an affordability challenge has been clearly identified and where the provision of affordable homes is economically viable. To support this process, local authorities were invited to submit economic assessments and Mayo County Council indicated, at that time, that the delivery of affordable housing at 10% below open market value was not considered economically viable. Should that situation change, the Department is happy to consider updated economic assessment from local authorities.

In addition to the Services Sites Fund, Budget 2021 ring fenced €75 million for a new national Affordable Purchase Shared Equity Scheme. I intend to target the scheme at first time buyers, who are seeking to buy a new home in private developments but who cannot quite secure the full mortgage amount to do so at the present time. Subject to the final qualifying criteria, the scheme would see the State take a limited equity stake in a property, in order to help more people meet the cost of buying a new home with their available mortgage. To this end, significant preparatory work has already been carried out by my Department working primarily with the Housing Agency and the Department of Finance. I intend to introduce this scheme in 2021, and intensive engagement continues with key stakeholders to inform the final detailed parameters of the scheme, as well as with home builders to seek to increase the output of new homes in response to the new scheme.

Other measures such as the Help to Buy Scheme and the Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan are also available to eligible purchasers nationally to make home ownership more affordable. As part of the €7 billion July stimulus plan, an enhanced version of the Help-to-Buy scheme was announced, which Budget 2021 has extended to December 2021. This will allow first-time buyers purchasing a newly-built home – or building one themselves – to claim back up to €30,000 paid in income tax and DIRT on bank deposit interest over the last four years. Full details of the Help to Buy initiative are available at https://www.revenue.ie/en/property/help-to-buy-incentive/index.aspx.

The Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan is a Government-backed mortgage which is for first-time-buyers nationwide to purchase a new or second-hand home or to self-build. This scheme offers loans on competitive terms to those who are unable to secure a commercial bank loan. Full details of the scheme are available at http://rebuildingirelandhomeloan.ie.

Social and Affordable Housing

Questions Nos. 355 and 356 answered with Question No. 348.

Question No. 357 answered with Question No. 54.

Questions (354)

Alan Dillon

Question:

354. Deputy Alan Dillon asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage the status of the Mayo County Council general housing acquisition programme for 2020 including land, housing, turkey properties and Part V acquisitions in addition to the social housing public private partnership program; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38503/20]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

The Programme for Government commits to increasing the social housing stock by more than 50,000, with an emphasis on new builds. In 2021, the total funding being made available for the delivery of housing programmes is €3.3bn. This includes funding to deliver 12,750 social homes through build, acquisition and leasing. A major focus of this investment is the delivery of new build, with an overall target of 9,500 new homes. The build target includes the delivery of 5,250 new homes by local authorities, 2,950 by Approved Housing Bodies (AHBs) and 1,300 new homes through Part V.

My Department publishes comprehensive programme level statistics on a quarterly basis on all social housing delivery activity under Rebuilding Ireland. This is published on the statistics page of my Department’s website, at the following link: www.housing.gov.ie/housing/social-housing/social-and-affordble/overall-social-housing-provision.

Between January and June 2020, Mayo local authority acquired three homes. One further home was acquired by an approved housing body and there were no turkey or Part V transactions recorded. Mayo local authority has not sought sanction fromy my Department to borrow for any land purchases in 2020.

Questions Nos. 355 and 356 answered with Question No. 348.
Question No. 357 answered with Question No. 54.

Housing for People with Disabilities

Questions (358, 359, 363)

Pauline Tully

Question:

358. Deputy Pauline Tully asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage his plans for replacing the National Housing Strategy for People with a Disability 2011-2016 which was extended as part of the Rebuilding Ireland Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness which is due to end in 2020; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38534/20]

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Pauline Tully

Question:

359. Deputy Pauline Tully asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage the reason the National Housing Strategy for People with a Disability Implementation Monitoring Group has not furnished a progress report since December 2018; the further length of time before the next progress report; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38535/20]

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Peadar Tóibín

Question:

363. Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage the detail of the strategy for housing for persons with disabilities. [38560/20]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 358, 359 and 363 together.

The National Housing Strategy for people with a Disability (NHSPWD) 2011-2016 and associated National Implementation Framework were jointly published by the Department of Housing and the Department of Health in 2011 and 2012 respectively. They set out the Government’s broad framework for the delivery of housing for people with disabilities and were developed as part of a coherent framework in conjunction with the Government’s mental health policy, A Vision for Change (2008), and the report of the working group on congregated settings, Time to Move on from Congregated Settings (2011). In 2016, under Rebuilding Ireland the Strategy was extended to allow it to continue to achieve its aims.

The vision of the nine Strategic Aims of the Strategy is to facilitate access, for people with disabilities, to the appropriate range of housing and related support services, delivered in an integrated and sustainable manner, which promotes equality of opportunity, individual choice and independent living. Along with promoting access by people with disabilities to independent living across the full range of housing options, they provide for frameworks and protocols for effective interagency cooperation; good practice in design, coordination and delivery of housing and related supports; improved collection and use of data for evidence based implementation; research and development of universal design standards; access to appropriate advice and information in respect of housing need; and a framework to support the delivery, monitoring and review of agreed actions.

The Implementation Framework for the Strategy, developed by a high-level implementation planning group, is comprised of 18 priority actions, supported by a number of key measures with responsibility for these assigned to key stakeholders.

Progress under the Strategy is reported in the annual report of the Implementation Monitoring Group for the Strategy. Five reports of the Implementation Monitoring Group for the Housing of People with a Disability have been published to date. The report for 2017 was published in December 2018 and the Fifth Report for 2018 was published in March 2020. All five reports are available at the following link:

www.housing.gov.ie/housing/policy/people-disability/housing-people-disability.

The sixth report for 2019 will be published shortly.

The National Housing Strategy for People with a Disability will be reviewed by my Department and the Department of Health in 2021 in consultation with all stakeholders. An Advisory Group is being set up and it is hoped to have the Group's first meeting shortly thereafter.

Strategic Infrastructure Provision

Question No. 363 answered with Question No. 358.

Questions (360, 361, 362)

Catherine Connolly

Question:

360. Deputy Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage the reason 71% of the approved strategic housing development planning permissions have not been activated; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38553/20]

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Catherine Connolly

Question:

361. Deputy Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage his plans for the winding up of the strategic housing development process as outlined in the Programme for Government; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38554/20]

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Catherine Connolly

Question:

362. Deputy Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage the analysis his Department has carried out into the effects of the strategic housing development process to date, given that when it was introduced the number of approved planning permissions already significantly outweighed the number of housing commencements; the actions he is taking to address ongoing delays in the activation of strategic housing development approved permissions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38555/20]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 360 to 362, inclusive, together.

The Planning and Development (Housing) and Residential Tenancies Act 2016 (the Act) introduced new streamlined arrangements to enable planning applications for strategic housing developments (SHDs) of 100 housing units or more, or student accommodation or shared accommodation developments of 200 bed spaces or more, to be made directly to An Bord Pleanála for determination.

The primary purpose of the SHD arrangements is to significantly speed up the planning decision-making process, thereby providing greater certainty for developers in terms of the timeframes within which proposals for such developments can be determined in the planning system, while also fully respecting the statutory requirements for consultation and having regard to observations submitted.

An external review of the SHD arrangements was carried out in 2019. This review particularly highlighted that while the arrangements had generally been a success in providing a fast-track development consent process for developers of large-scale housing developments, the number of SHD permissions that have commenced development is less than might have been expected.

The status of individual developments which have been granted permission under the Planning and Development Act 2000, as amended, is not routinely maintained by my Department given that some 30,000 planning permissions are granted nationally on an annual basis. My Department has conducted periodic research on the activation rate of SHD permissions and the most recent data in this regard would indicate that works have commenced on 29% of SHD permissions granted to date since the arrangements came into operation. There can be some delay, for various reasons, in the activation of housing developments post the granting of permission. In this regard, if permissions granted in 2020 are excluded from the calculations, the data indicates that works have commenced on 45% of the SHD permissions granted in 2018 (when the first permissions were granted) and 2019.

While obtaining planning permission is an essential step in any project, there are other factors at play that may impact on the commencement of any project, such as phasing of development (having to complete an existing project before commencing on another), finances, economic factors etc.

However, given the benefits that the SHD arrangements provide, it is considered appropriate that developers should be sufficiently motivated to commence development on foot of an SHD permission in a timely manner, given the efficiencies that the SHD arrangements provide and in order to ensure the objectives of the SHD arrangements are more clearly met.

In this regard, with a view to influencing the earlier activation of housing related planning permissions, the new Programme for Government – Our Shared Future commits to introducing a "use it or lose it" condition for all planning permissions of ten housing units or more. My Department is presently progressing the drafting of the necessary legislation providing for the introduction of the proposed new "use it or lose it" housing-related planning arrangements. This will be progressed over the coming months.

The Programme for Government also commits to not extending the SHD arrangements beyond their legislative expiry of end December 2021, which has now been extended to February 2022 arising from Covid-related shutdown of the planning system for 8 weeks, which extended all planning timelines by 8 weeks. The process for winding up the SHD arrangements will be considered by my Department over the coming months.

Question No. 363 answered with Question No. 358.

Housing for People with Disabilities

Questions (364)

Peadar Tóibín

Question:

364. Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage the average waiting time nationally for a person with a disability to be allocated social housing. [38561/20]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

My Department does not collate the information on the waiting list requested by the Deputy. However, details on the number of households qualified for social housing support in each local authority area is provided in the annual statutory Summary of Social Housing Assessments (SSHA). The purpose of the SSHA is to capture the total number of households qualified for social housing support across the country whose social housing need has not yet been met, in order to better inform policy and plan for the delivery of the right types of housing support.

The most recent summary, from June 2019 shows that 68,693 households were qualified for, and in need of, social housing support. Of this number, 4,126 households or 6% were those who had a specific need for housing based on disability. Below is the link to the summary report for 2019 which includes breakdowns by each local authority, across a range of categories. Details on the length of time spent on the record of qualified households (waiting lists) can be found at tables 2.8 and A1.8 of the report.

Report 2019https://www.housing.gov.ie/sites/default/files/publications/files/sha_summary_2019_dec_2019_web_1.pdf .

According to figures collated by the Housing Agency, in 2019 there were 2,389 allocations of social housing to households with disability as a primary basis of need. This represents 12% of total allocations for 2019. This demonstrates that local authorities are making progress in meeting the needs of persons with disabilities on the social housing waiting list.

Housing for People with Disabilities

Questions (365, 366)

Peadar Tóibín

Question:

365. Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage the ratio of housing for persons with disabilities by which local authorities have to build or procure housing for persons with disabilities. [38562/20]

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Peadar Tóibín

Question:

366. Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage the funding allocated to each local authority and to approved housing bodies to construct social housing for persons with disabilities; and the amount provided to each local authority between 2010 and 2015 and between 2016 and 2020, in tabular form. [38563/20]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 365 and 366 together.

My Department operates a broad range of programmes which support the housing needs of people with disabilities. This includes the delivery of new social homes through local authority and Approved Housing Body led build, acquisition and leasing schemes and also the provision of key supports to maintain people with disabilities within their existing homes.

In respect of construction funding, over the period 2016-2019, my Department provided almost €2.1 billion to local authorities to deliver new social homes, including new homes for people with disabilities. I will arrange for my officials to provide the Deputy with this breakdown by local authority. The detailed breakdown of housing funding in 2020 will be finalised at year-end. Prior to 2016 housing expenditure was reported on a programme basis, which encompassed multiple delivery streams.

The Programme for Government commits to increasing the social housing stock by more than 50,000. Budget 2021 has made available €3.3bn towards the wide range of housing programmes, which will deliver 12,750 new social homes next year, including a record 9,500 new Build homes. These new homes are designed and planned using guidelines, build standards and planning regulations supported by my Department.

The Capital Assistance Scheme also provides for the delivery of homes for persons with disabilities. In addition, my Department also provides a range of specialised grants, including the Housing Adaptation Grant for People with a Disability scheme (up to €30,000) and the Mobility Aids Grant Scheme (up to €6,000). These grants assist people with disabilities to have necessary adaptations, repairs or improvement works carried out and to cover a basic suite of works to address the mobility problems of a member of a household.

It is a matter for local authorities to ensure that the number and specific types of dwellings provided in their social housing developments meet local needs. My Department does not hold specific details in relation to the number of individual houses built or procured for persons with disabilities in each local authority during this period. However, this information should be available from the individual local authorities

Building Regulations

Questions (367)

Steven Matthews

Question:

367. Deputy Steven Matthews asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage the position regarding the Departmental working group being set up to investigate the possible amendments to building regulations to require changing places (details supplied) in suitable public buildings. [38641/20]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

New buildings and extensions or material alterations to existing buildings must comply with the legal minimum performance standards set out in the Building Regulations 1997 - 2019. In this context, the Building Regulations (Part M Amendment) Regulations 2010, and the accompanying Technical Guidance Document M – Access and Use (2010), which came into effect on 1 January 2012, set out the minimum statutory requirements that a building must achieve in respect of access.

In relation to the Deputy’s specific query, my Department proposes to establish a Working Group to examine the inclusion of a provision in relation to a ‘Changing Places Facility’, (commonly known as a ‘Changing Places Toilet’), in Part M/TGD M of the second schedule of the Building Regulations. In this regard, my Department has recently written to a number of relevant stakeholders to invite their organisations to participate in the Working Group.

The Terms of Reference for the Working Group include, assisting in the preparation of a draft documentation for public consultation (this will include an examination of costs and preparation of a regulatory impact analysis). The Working Group will then review submissions received, post public consultation and will support the finalisation of a revised draft Part M/TGD M.

It is proposed to hold an initial introductory meeting of the Working Group in the coming weeks.

Town and Village Renewal Scheme

Questions (368)

Steven Matthews

Question:

368. Deputy Steven Matthews asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage the steps he has taken to date to implement a town centres first strategy that was committed to in the programme for Government. [38642/20]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

While our towns and villages have shown remarkable resilience through recent crises, they require specific policy supports to ensure that they continue to function as viable, vibrant and attractive locations for people to live and work, to raise families, to act as the service, cultural and recreational hub for the surrounding areas, and to facilitate social and community interaction.

The challenges our towns currently face include those associated with the provision of adequate employment opportunities, addressing vacant and derelict properties, the impact of online shopping on town-centre retail, and the general move away from town centre living and commercial activity.

In this context, the Programme for Government (PFG) has committed in outline to the development of a Town Centre First (TCF) policy. With a view to giving effect to this commitment and the actions outlined in the PFG, a TCF inter-Departmental Group (IDG) has now recently been established to consider the regeneration of our towns and villages with the first meeting held earlier this month.

The IDG is jointly chaired by my Department and the Department of Rural and Community Development and aims to progress the commitment and associated actions in relation to the Town Centre First approach in the Programme for Government. This will involve both the Terms of Reference for the IDG and an initial scoping of the policy proposal with recommendations to be developed over the next six months.

As outlined above, a TCF policy is at the very early stages of development which will require both a scoping of high-level objectives through the forum of the IDG with many strands to be considered including that of appropriate stakeholder engagement and public consultation.

In parallel, I am in the process of establishing a Town Centre First advisory group, to enable the experiences of a broader group of stakeholders to be brought to bear in informing the process of policy development. I will be chairing the TCF advisory group myself, with the first meeting to be held in December.

Electric Vehicles

Questions (369)

Steven Matthews

Question:

369. Deputy Steven Matthews asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage if he will report on the way in which local authorities are implementing the rollout of electric vehicle charging stations. [38643/20]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

The information sought is not available in my Department. The relevant information would be available from individual local authorities.

Planning Issues

Questions (370)

Steven Matthews

Question:

370. Deputy Steven Matthews asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage the position regarding the rollout of a nationwide e-planning system. [38649/20]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

The ePlanning project which is currently being developed seeks to integrate the IT systems of the 31 planning authorities using a single online portal allowing for the online submission of planning applications, appeals, submissions and associated fees. Once fully rolled out, ePlanning will provide an online option for the public to engage with the planning system, in addition to the paper based system.

The Local Government Management Agency (LGMA) is managing and co-ordinating the development of the ePlanning project on behalf of the Department. The need for online technology in the planning system has been particularly highlighted during the measures introduced to mitigate against Covid 19 when travel restrictions prevented the public from travelling to view files in local authority planning offices and generally participating in the planning process. Arising from this, the ePlanning Project Board was requested by my Department to consider the accelerated the development and rollout of ePlanning nationwide with a view to bringing the system onstream as speedily as possible. The LGMA is currently preparing a schedule for the rollout of ePlanning nationwide to all local authorities on a phased basis, which is expected to commence in Q1 2021 and with a view to completion by Q2 2022.