Local Authority Members

Questions (261)

Paul McAuliffe

Question:

261. Deputy Paul McAuliffe asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage his views on the availability of childcare services for persons (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8029/21]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

I am committed to exploring measures that will contribute to increasing participation for all in local government, and I welcome and encourage any discussion on the matter. Consideration of this matter is important in ensuring that local authority elected Councils are fully representative of the constituents they serve.

Currently, there is no expenditure category for childcare or other caring costs incurred by councillors while attending meetings. This was an issue raised in the consultation process as part of the Independent Review of the Role and Remuneration of Local Authority Elected Members, led by Ms Sara Moorhead SC and published in June 2020. The expenditure categories for vouched expenses of councillors are aligned with those available under the Public Representation Allowance (PRA) for Oireachtas members. Oireachtas members cannot claim for childcare costs, though there is a privately operated fee-paying crèche facility available for Oireachtas members and staff.

Tailored allowances for caring costs are not available to other office holders in the State nor are they available for local authority employees who service council meetings.

In her report, Ms Moorhead did suggest that the extension of the allowable expenses to include caring costs incurred by councillors in attending Council meetings could in theory be considered. However, she acknowledged that such a proposal would be out of line with practice for other office holders and state employees, and so advised that this should be considered with a good degree of caution.

It is also worth noting that the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs introduced a universal childcare subsidy from August 2017, which is available to all children in Tusla-registered childcare above the age of 6 months.

I am aware that there is a crèche on site in Dublin City Council Civic Offices on Wood Quay which is also adjacent to City Hall. Preference is given to staff and Councillors although it is open to others depending on demand. Councillors have availed of the crèche on either a full time or part-time basis, and can reserve places for Committee meetings which all take place during the working day. The fees are not subsidised for Councillors or staff.

In addition, there is a parenting room in City Hall where councillors can feed or change young children. Dublin City Council has a parenting policy which permits Councillors to bring babies and children to meetings as long as they are supervised by their parents. My hope is that the approach adopted in Dublin City Council, which has a “Parenting (or Caring) Support Group”, comprising a number of elected members, will be established in all other local authorities.

I recently approved the establishment of a working group to examine the non-pay recommendations set out in the Moorhead Review, which include such issues as childcare and parental leave. This group comprises key local government stakeholders, including representatives from the Association of Irish Local Government (AILG), the Local Authority Members Association (LAMA), the County and City Management Association (CCMA) and officials from my Department.

The first meeting of the group took place earlier this month. The terms of reference for the group include examination of the aforementioned recommendations and this will be taken forward by the group.

Defective Building Materials

Questions (262, 263, 264)

Bríd Smith

Question:

262. Deputy Bríd Smith asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage the progress of the working group on latent defects in apartment buildings set up in 2020; the interim findings of the group; if the group will be inviting submissions from affected apartment owners and others; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8030/21]

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Bríd Smith

Question:

263. Deputy Bríd Smith asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage if he will support a State redress body to fund remedial works for defective apartments built in recent decades; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8031/21]

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Bríd Smith

Question:

264. Deputy Bríd Smith asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage his plans to address weaknesses in the building regulations regime here including the enforcement of standards in relation to fire safety and other areas; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8032/21]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 262 to 264, inclusive, together.

Firstly, I wish to acknowledge the very stressful circumstances which the owners and residents of buildings face when defects occur in their homes.

Unfortunately, building defects have emerged in some houses and apartments built during the 2000s. In general building defects are matters for resolution between the contracting parties involved, the homeowner, the builder, the developer and/or their respective insurers, structural guarantee or warranty scheme.

In this regard, it is incumbent on the parties responsible for poor workmanship and/or the supply of defective materials to face up to their responsibilities and take appropriate action to provide remedies for the affected homeowners.

The design and construction of buildings is regulated under the Building Control Acts 1990 to 2020. The Acts provides for the making of Building Regulations and Building Control Regulations.

The Building Regulations 1997 - 2019 set out the legal requirements in Ireland for the construction of new buildings (including houses), extensions to existing buildings as well as for material alterations and certain material changes of use to existing buildings. Their aim is to provide for the safety and welfare of people in and about buildings.

The Building Control Regulations set out the administrative procedures for demonstrating compliance in respect of an individual building or works.

Under the Building Control Acts 1990 to 2020 primary responsibility for compliance of works with the requirements of the Building Regulations, rests with the owners, designers and builders of buildings.

Enforcement of the Building Regulations is a matter for the 31 local building control authorities which have extensive powers of inspection and enforcement under statute.

In addition local authorities also have extensive powers of inspection and enforcement under the Fire Services Acts 1981 and 2003, the Housing Acts and the Planning and Development Acts, which may be relevant where fire safety concerns arise in residential developments.

The Programme for Government sets out a number of commitments in respect of the important policy area of building defects and provides for an examination of defective housing, having regard to the recommendations of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Housing report, "Safe as Houses".

In this regard, my Department is actively engaging with key stakeholders and I have had several meetings with stakeholder representative groups on this matter over recent months. My Department is currently working to establish the structures to examine the issue of defective housing, this will include apartment buildings, in line with the commitment in the Programme for Government.

I recently appointed Mr Seamus Neely, former Chief Executive of Donegal County Council, to the position of Chair to the independent working group to oversee the effective implementation of the group’s terms of reference which are currently being finalised.

In addition, I brought a Memorandum for the Information of the Government to Cabinet recently to note the establishment of a working group with the appropriate expertise to examine the issue of defective housing. It is intended to hold the inaugural plenary working group meeting shortly.

In regard to the working group’s deliberations, the group will seek to engage with a range of interested parties, including homeowners, public representatives, local authorities, product manufacturers, building professionals and industry stakeholders, among others.

In the context of fire safety, when a building is constructed and occupied, statutory responsibility for fire safety is assigned by section 18(2) of the Fire Services Acts, 1981 & 2003, to the ‘person having control’ of the building. 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, 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 have arisen, the Framework for Enhancing Fire Safety in Dwellings was published in 2017. It is intended to be used as a guide for the owners and occupants of dwellings (houses and apartments) where fire safety deficiencies have been identified, or are a cause for concern, to develop strategies to improve fire safety and to develop strategies to enable continued occupation in advance of undertaking the necessary works to ensure compliance with the relevant Building Regulations. The Framework is available at the following link: https://www.gov.ie/en/organisation/department-of-housing-local-government-and-heritage/?referrer=http://www.housing.gov.ie/sites/default/files/publications/files/framework_for_enhancing_fire_safety_in_dwellings.pdf.

Separately, the ongoing building control reform agenda, with its many initiatives, already provides a comprehensive roadmap for embedding a culture of real compliance within the construction industry. The reform agenda includes:

- Amendments made to the Building Control Regulations;

- Establishment of the National Building Control Office; and

- The ongoing development of new legislation through the Building Control (Construction Industry Register Ireland) Bill.

Now, if/when issues arise whether pre, during or post construction, it is clear who has held the designated roles and who is responsible for addressing the issues. This facilitates and simplifies the inspection, implementation and enforcement role of Building Control Authorities.

Land Development Agency

Questions (265)

Francis Noel Duffy

Question:

265. Deputy Francis Noel Duffy asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage the housing tenure mix for a Land Development Agency development (details supplied); the breakdown of private and affordable purchase, affordable, cost rental and social homes; the model of the agency for contracts with tenants; the way these tenancies are allocated; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8051/21]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

The Land Development Agency (LDA) was established on an interim basis in September 2018, by way of an Establishment Order made under the Local Government Services (Corporate Bodies) Act 1971, pending the enactment of primary legislation when it will be established as a commercial State agency.

The LDA have advised my Department that the 28 acre site at Dundrum will deliver approximately 1,200 units. The tenure mix for this site will be finalised by the LDA as the project progresses, and will have regard to Government policy, and all appropriate legislation, at the time on the appropriate tenure mix for developments on public land as well as the criteria for the operation of cost rental and affordable housing schemes.

As with all State bodies operating under the aegis of my Department, arrangements have been put in place by the LDA through which Oireachtas members can request information directly from the Agency in relation to operational matters - in this regard, the LDA may be contacted directly at oireachtas@lda.ie.

Land Development Agency

Questions (266)

Francis Noel Duffy

Question:

266. Deputy Francis Noel Duffy asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage the amount of land the Land Development Agency is expected to purchase from local authorities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8052/21]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

The primary role of local authorities as housing authorities in the delivery of housing will not be impacted by the Land Development Agency (LDA) Bill, which was published on 5 February. The main interaction between the LDA and local authorities is based on collaborative arrangements. The Bill specifically provides for the LDA to deliver services to local authorities at the request of the local authority including to deliver social and affordable housing on local authority lands. The majority of such lands will remain in local authority ownership post development in this case.

The Bill also permits the LDA to purchase local authority lands where a local authority has decided to put lands up for sale. As with all proposed sales of lands suitable for housing by public bodies, the LDA Bill requires that the LDA be offered 'first refusal' to purchase such lands. This situation would only arise where the local authority has decided not to develop the lands for their own functions.

Planning Issues

Questions (267)

Francis Noel Duffy

Question:

267. Deputy Francis Noel Duffy asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage the current zoning regulations and restrictions on tiny homes; if he has considered easing restrictions on the minimum dwelling space requirements for tiny homes and one-off or small groups of low-impact tiny house developments; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8053/21]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

In relation to the Tiny House concept, it is should be noted that such developments do not meet current Irish residential space standards and are significantly smaller than the minimum permissible floor area for a studio apartment, as detailed in the Design Standards for New Apartments - Guidelines for Planning Authorities document, most recently updated in December 2020 to reflect changes in co-living policy.

While not meeting minimum floor areas standards, tiny houses would give rise to the normal requirements for access and services, such as water and drainage, and related issues relating to the residential amenity enjoyed by the prospective residents. Current standards have been carefully considered to form a balance between the need to ensure a high standard of residential amenity while facilitating the provision of new housing development and following the updated guidance published in 2020, I have no further plans to change the standards at this time.

However, my Department continues to liaise with local authorities and other key stakeholders on a range of different planning matters including, where appropriate, the promotion of new housing types that reflect the changing demographics of our population and to provide further choice for prospective homeowners.

Home Loan Scheme

Questions (268)

Francis Noel Duffy

Question:

268. Deputy Francis Noel Duffy asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage if he will further extend the approval period for a Rebuilding Ireland home loan in view of difficulties buying properties due to Covid-19; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8054/21]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

The Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan scheme remains open for business. All local authorities are receiving and processing applications and are incorporating increased flexibility to accommodate applicants during the COVID 19 Pandemic.

The Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan scheme Approval in Principle letter is usually valid for a period of 6 months from date of issue. Approvals can exceed six months and applicants seeking an extension to their approval in principle should contact their local authority.

The final decision on loan approval is a matter for each local authority and its Credit Committee on a case-by-case basis.

Regeneration Projects

Questions (269)

Maurice Quinlivan

Question:

269. Deputy Maurice Quinlivan asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage the projects funded by the social intervention fund in County Limerick in each of the years 2008 to 2020; the amount of funding awarded to each project in these years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8102/21]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

The disbursement of funding to projects under the Social Intervention Fund of the Limerick Regeneration Programme is the responsibility of Limerick City & County Council (or the Limerick Regeneration Agencies prior to 2012). Based on information provided by the Council and the Agencies, the Table below sets out details of disbursements from the Social Intervention Fund from 2009 to 2020. In addition, I understand that a total of €526,824 was provided in 2008 through the Fund to various community and estate management actions and projects to kick start the regeneration process.

[<ahref="https://data.oireachtas.ie/ie/oireachtas/debates/questions/supportingDocumentation/2021-02-17_pq269-17-02-2021_en.xlsx">Social Initiatives</a>].

Departmental Surveys

Questions (270)

Seán Sherlock

Question:

270. Deputy Sean Sherlock asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage the status of the survey of the pearl mussel which is found in the Munster Blackwater. [8124/21]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

The Freshwater Pearl Mussel is critically endangered in Ireland and the EU. It is very sensitive to water quality and to land use management that may impact on the rivers in which it lives, including the Munster Blackwater.

The Munster Blackwater is a deep, dark and fast-flowing river, and is difficult to survey for these reasons. Data on the status of the Mussel in the Blackwater, including its current distribution and abundance, is incomplete. However some recent surveys of parts of the river found more mussels than were previously known in the main channel of the river.

It is agreed that significant further work is required. The necessary survey work would likely require 2 years to complete, given the need for a period of reasonable weather to arrive at suitable river conditions for survey work to succeed. It will require additional expert resources in my Department to commission survey work, and possibly to work in collaboration with other interested parties; and this requirement is being addressed at this time.

Capital Assistance Scheme

Questions (271)

Alan Dillon

Question:

271. Deputy Alan Dillon asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage if he plans to amend the capital assistance scheme funding to facilitate approved housing bodies to apply for funding for certain projects (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8125/21]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

My Department supports local authorities to fund Approved Housing Bodies (AHBs) to deliver housing under the Capital Assistance Scheme (CAS) for priority housing categories, including age-friendly housing. CAS operates on the basis that loans of 100% are available to AHBs where all people to be accommodated are on the social housing waiting list, or loans to cover 95% of the capital development costs apply where AHBs retain 25% of the nomination rights.

I am keen that age-friendly housing is developed across the country and accordingly, I would encourage any AHBs interested in the differing funding and nomination options that are available under CAS, to contact their local authority to discuss these options.

Housing Agency

Questions (272)

Alan Dillon

Question:

272. Deputy Alan Dillon asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage the number of annual regulatory returns submitted to the regulation office at the Housing Agency for 2020; if significant compliance issues were identified; if there have been notifiable events made to the regulation office for 2020; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8126/21]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

The oversight of Approved Housing Bodies (AHBs) is currently conducted through the Voluntary Regulation Code (the Code), "Building for the Future, A Voluntary Regulation Code for Approved Housing Bodies in Ireland" underpinned by three standards - Financial, Governance and Performance. The Code is overseen by an Interim Regulatory Committee supported by a Regulation Office based in the Housing Agency.

The Regulation Office operates a risk-based approach to regulation. In line with pre-determined risk factors, the Regulation Office evaluates all approved housing bodies (AHBs) against these factors in order to prioritise its resources. This is a vital element in determining which AHBs are assessed in the annual assessment cycle.

In total, 109 regulatory returns were submitted in 2020. These consisted of 86 Annual Regulatory Returns and 23 Engagement Returns (issued to organisations already in Engagement with the Regulation Office). A further 177 AHBs which were not selected for assessment submitted a Charter of Commitment reaffirming their commitment to the Voluntary Regulatory Framework.

The Regulation Office is currently carrying out its assessment of the returns submitted for 2020. It is anticipated that this process will complete in April 2021. Where compliance issues have been identified, these are reported to each organisation individually in order that they may be addressed. If serious non-compliance issues are identified, the organisation may be entered into an Engagement process with the Regulation Office. Information on compliance issues identified in the previous regulatory assessment cycle is published in the Regulation Office’s 2019 Annual Report and Sectoral Analysis, available on the Housing Agency website. A similar analysis of the 2020 assessments will be published following completion of the current assessment cycle. The Regulation Office was contacted 76 times in 2020 in relation to Notifiable Events.

The transition from voluntary to statutory regulation for AHBs is well underway. The Approved Housing Bodies Regulatory Authority (AHBRA) was formally established on 1 February 2021 to oversee the effective governance, financial management and performance of all AHBs. It is anticipated that the AHBRA will become fully operational in 2022. This is to allow the Regulator sufficient time to determine its strategy and adopt the standards by which AHBs will be assessed. This process will involve consultation with relevant stakeholders.

Thatching Grants

Questions (273)

Seán Canney

Question:

273. Deputy Seán Canney asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage the supports available for householders that live in thatched homes; if his attention has been drawn to the additional cost of the roofing and the additional insurance costs that accrue; if his attention has been further drawn to the fact that only one insurance company offers insurance for these homes and many householders cannot afford this insurance; if his attention has been drawn to the importance of retaining this element of Ireland's built heritage; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8160/21]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

Under my Department’s renewal or repair of thatched roof grant scheme, in general a grant of up to €3,810, or two thirds of the approved cost, whichever is the lesser, may be payable in respect of necessary works to renew or repair the thatched roofs of houses. In the case of medical card holders however, a grant of up to €6,350, or up to 80% of the approved cost, may be payable in respect of houses situated on the mainland, rising to €8,252 where the house is situated on a specified off-shore island. Eligibility under the grant scheme is contingent on the house being occupied as a normal place of residence on completion of the approved works. Further details can be found at the following link: gov.ie - Thatching Grant (www.gov.ie). A total of 107 applications were processed in 2020 with associated funding of €490,360. A similar funding provision is in place for 2021.

My Department also oversees a number of schemes to assist in the conservation of protected structures such as thatched cottages. These schemes are the Built Heritage Investment Scheme and the Historic Structures Fund. They are administered through the local authorities and details are available at the following link: https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/32ae3-financial-assistance-for-architectural-heritage/.

I am conscious of the importance of investment to ensure the preservation and continued use of thatched homes so that they remain a living part of our heritage and community life into the future.

In regard to the provision of insurance, the Central Bank of Ireland is responsible for the prudential supervision of such undertakings authorised in Ireland, and my Department has no function in this matter.

Homelessness Strategy

Questions (274)

Aodhán Ó Ríordáin

Question:

274. Deputy Aodhán Ó Ríordáin asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage his plans to fund further and more extensive research on the issue of LGBTI+ homelessness further to the publication of research by an organisation (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8207/21]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

Supporting individuals and families facing homelessness is a key Government priority. The Programme for Government, Our Shared Future, commits to reducing and preventing homelessness and provides detail on how the Government is approaching this work as a priority. Homelessness is complex and causal factors and family circumstances vary considerably as do the responses needed. Homelessness is also inter-related with the other areas of the housing system and with broader social and healthcare policy and service delivery. Therefore, a whole of Government approach is required in dealing with this challenge.

However, important progress is being made. There were 8,200 individuals accessing homeless emergency accommodation at the end of 2020, a decrease of 1,531 individuals, or 15.7%, on the 9,731 total recorded at end of 2019.

The Report referred to by the Deputy is on LGBTQI+ Youth Homelessness in Ireland by Focus Ireland. I want to assure the Deputy that I will be continuing to accord priority to working with my colleagues in Government to ensure the delivery of the appropriate responses to the recommendations in this report and to addressing homelessness more generally. My Department directly supports implementation of the National LGBTI+ Inclusion Strategy and an official from my Department who has responsibility for homelessness is a member of the Committee which reviews implementation of this Strategy.

The issues raised in this report are also closely inter-related with broader social and healthcare policy and service delivery matters. The High Level Homelessness Taskforce is providing a forum for engagement with key organisations working to address issues such as these.

Planning Issues

Questions (275)

Aodhán Ó Ríordáin

Question:

275. Deputy Aodhán Ó Ríordáin asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage if he plans to review the costs of lodging observations to planning applications to local authorities and An Bord Pleanála; if his Department has examined the impact of these fees on low-income households and inability to pay and access to the planning system; his plans to carry out such research; if he has conducted a comparative analysis with other EU countries on the cost of access; if he plans to examine this area; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8208/21]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

The fees for making submissions or observations on planning applications and appeals are set at levels intended to prevent frivolous or vexatious submissions, while not acting as a deterrent to persons with genuine concerns or interest in proposed developments from making submissions.

Section 33 of the Planning and Development Act 2000, as amended (the 2000 Act), provides that the Minister may make regulations in relation to the planning fees applied by planning authorities, including in relation to the making of a submission or observation on a planning application. The current planning related fees payable to planning authorities have been in place since 2002. It is proposed to review the fees involved in the context of the introduction of e-planning (facilitating the online submission of planning applications, appeals and associated fees), the national roll out of which is to be completed in 2022.

With regard to the fees payable to An Bord Pleanála, section 144 of the 2000 Act provides that the Board may determine the fees that it may charge in relation to its functions, subject to Ministerial approval, including the fee for the making of submissions or observations on planning appeals.

The Board is further empowered to review such fees at least every three years having regard to any change in the consumer price index (CPI), and it may amend them accordingly without the necessity of Ministerial approval. The Board last completed a CPI Fees review in December 2019, on foot of which it was decided not to amend to the existing fee structure. I understand that An Bord Pleanála also completed a general non-CPI fees review in November 2020, and will in due course submit, for my consideration, any proposals arising from that general review.

Wastewater Treatment

Questions (276)

Joe Carey

Question:

276. Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage his plans for the provision of wastewater infrastructure in unsewered towns and villages; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8239/21]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

My Department builds its strategic water policy and infrastructure delivery programmes around the National Planning Framework (NPF) 2018-2040 with necessary funding identified within the National Development Plan (NDP) 2018-2027.

The NPF supports proportionate growth of rural towns and a programme for ‘new homes in small towns and villages’, with local authorities and public infrastructure agencies providing serviced sites, with appropriate infrastructure, to attract people to build their own homes and live in small towns and villages.

Ensuring funding for the provisions of water services under the NDP plays a key and enabling role in realising both the National Planning Objectives of the NPF and National Strategic Outcomes of the NDP. The ultimate delivery is primarily through Irish Water and the Rural Water Programme, which is funded directly by my Department. The Rural Water Programme is administered by local authorities.

The Programme for Government supports the take-up of Irish Water's Small Towns and Villages Growth Programme 2020-2024, which will provide water and wastewater growth capacity in smaller settlements that would otherwise not be provided for in Irish Water's capital investment plan.

The current focus of Irish Water in its Small Towns and Villages Growth Programme 2020-2024 is on locations with existing public water services infrastructure. Irish Water is subject to independent economic regulation by the Commission for Regulation of Utilities (CRU). My Department understands from Irish Water that an allocation of €97.5m for this programme was approved by the CRU.

Complementary to the above, my Department is currently examining these considerations in the context of villages and settlements that do not have public wastewater infrastructure. I have instructed the relevant officials in my Department to prepare a report on this topic at national level and I will be in a position to provide further update once I have received this report.

Famine Artefacts

Questions (277)

John Brady

Question:

277. Deputy John Brady asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage if his attention has been drawn to a possible famine site (details supplied); if he will authorise a site investigation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8258/21]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

I am advised that a granite pillar was brought to the attention of my Department’s National Monuments Service as possible evidence of the existence of a famine graveyard at the location in question. However, I understand that the Department’s view is that the origins and associations of the pillar are unlikely to relate to burials.

While there is insufficient evidence at this point for the marker to be recorded as an archaeological monument, I understand that the Department has given guidance to assist local investigations to find out more about it and will also be happy to provide advice on any such further information that may come to light.

If the group that has raised the matter with my Department wishes to arrange an archaeological assessment of the site, its best course would be to contact the landowners, and, if the latter are agreeable, to then submit the necessary license application to the Department for consideration under the National Monuments Acts.

Local Authority Housing

Questions (278)

Joe Flaherty

Question:

278. Deputy Joe Flaherty asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage if it will be ensured that the 2020 funding process is factored into an increased allocation in 2021 for the disabled person grant funding scheme for the local authorities (details supplied). [8274/21]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

The Department provides funding on an annual basis under the Disabled Persons Grants (DPG) scheme to local authorities for adaptations and extensions to their existing social housing stock to meet the needs of local authority tenants. Funding in this regard has been increasing year on year to support this scheme.

It was acknowledged that some local authorities had contractual commitments during last year’s allocation process, therefore, contingency was built into the allocations in 2020 of €2.5m. This was included to ensure local authorities were not placed in a difficult financial situation and it was left open for them to apply for additional funding in respect of contractual commitments.

A number of local authorities availed of these additional supports and DPG funding for 2020 was fully exhausted.

It is envisaged that a similar approach will be taken this year. My Department will be contacting local authorities in the coming weeks to identify commitments carried forward from 2020 so that these works can be considered as part of the 2021 funding process and an appropriate allocation provided. It is a matter for each local authority to prioritise the works required under the scheme in the context of available funding and in line with the terms of the DPG scheme.

Tenant Purchase Scheme

Questions (279)

Joe Flaherty

Question:

279. Deputy Joe Flaherty asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage if he will review the €15,000 reckonable income condition for the tenant purchase scheme (details supplied); and if not, if he will consider removing the reckonable income condition for a one-year period in the counties in which there was a significant concentration of ESB or Bord na Móna employees in order to facilitate them to access the scheme. [8276/21]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

The Tenant (Incremental) Purchase Scheme came into operation on 1 January 2016. The Scheme is open to eligible tenants, including joint tenants, of local authority houses that are available for sale under the Scheme. To be eligible, tenants must meet certain criteria, including having a minimum reckonable income of €15,000 per annum and having been in receipt of social housing support for at least one year.

The minimum reckonable income for eligibility under the scheme is determined by the relevant local authority in accordance with the detailed provisions of the Ministerial Direction issued under Sections 24(3) and (4) of the 2014 Act. In the determination of the minimum reckonable income, local authorities can include income from a number of different sources and classes, such as from employment, private pensions, maintenance payments and certain social welfare payments, including pensions, where the social welfare payment is secondary to employment income.

In determining reckonable income, the income of all tenants of the house, including adult children that are joint tenants, is included, as is the income of the spouse, civil partner or other partner / co-habitant of a tenant who lives in the house with them, thus ensuring the appropriate level of discount is applied to the purchase price.

The minimum income criterion was introduced in order to ensure the sustainability of the scheme. Applicants must demonstrate that they have an income that is long-term and sustainable in nature. This ensures that the tenant purchasing the house is in a financial position, as the owner, to maintain and insure the property for the duration of the charged period, in compliance with the conditions of the order transferring the ownership of, and responsibility for, the house from the local authority to the tenant.

A review of the first 12 months of the Scheme’s operation has been undertaken. In addition, the Programme for Government commits to maintaining the right of social housing tenants to purchase their own home with some changes to eligibility. The review and the commitments in the Programme for Government are being examined as part of the work on the broader social housing reform agenda. I expect to be in a position to publish the review and finalise changes to the Scheme once the work on these reform measures is complete.

Social and Affordable Housing

Questions (280)

Neale Richmond

Question:

280. Deputy Neale Richmond asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage the salary expectations for persons to be able to access the affordable housing scheme which he plans to roll out in summer 2021; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8326/21]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

The Programme for Government, 'Our Shared Future', commits to putting affordability at the heart of the housing system. On 22 December 2020, Government approved the priority drafting of the Affordable Housing Bill 2020, the General Scheme of which I published on 20 January last.

The Bill includes provisions to underpin three schemes which will prioritise the increased supply of affordable homes through (1) affordable homes delivered by local authorities utilising the Serviced Sites Fund, (2) a new affordable purchase shared equity scheme for private homes, and (3) the introduction of a new form of tenure in Cost Rental.

Budget 2021 allocated €75 million for the affordable housing shared equity scheme to be introduced later this year. The scheme will be targeted at first time buyers of new build homes who would otherwise not be in a position to buy a home. The detailed design aspects of the scheme, including eligibility criteria and price caps, is currently ongoing, and will be informed by our continued engagement with all relevant stakeholders.

Foreshore Licences

Questions Nos. 282 and 283 answered with Question No. 253.

Questions (281)

Cormac Devlin

Question:

281. Deputy Cormac Devlin asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage the details of all applications that have been made under the current foreshore licence including survey and exploration requests or any other activity to his Department for 2016 to 2020 for the area north of Arklow, south of Howth and in and around the Kish Bank; the status of each application; when it is due to expire; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8378/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

Details of current applications for a foreshore consent and consents granted and executed under the Foreshore Act 1933, as amended are available to view on my Department's website at the following link https://www.gov.ie/en/collection/f2196-foreshore-applications-and-determinations/.

Applications for a foreshore consent made to my Department are subject to a non-statutory pre-application process to enable applicants to engage with officials from my Department to discuss details of the proposed project, technical matters and details of the foreshore consent assessment process among other matters. Following the pre-application process, the application goes through a number of steps as part of the assessment process, including, for example; public and prescribed bodies consultation, environmental assessment, technical input and recommendation from the Marine Licence Vetting Committee, Ministerial determination and, if a consent is approved, execution of the legal instrument.

Attached is a list of relevant foreshore consent applications which have proceeded to full application assessment stage. As proposed projects may be amended or may not proceed to full application stage following initial pre-application consultation, only those foreshore consent applications which have proceeded to full application are included. In this regard, it should be noted that consents granted under section 10 of the Foreshore Act are related to developments on privately owned foreshore and are permanent in nature.

Sub Category

Location

Status

Consent expiry date

Offshore renewable energy

Bray and Kish Banks

Consent executed

09/12/2025

Offshore renewable energy

Arklow Banks

Consent executed

24/09/2025

Offshore renewable energy

North Wicklow

Consent executed

07/02/2026

Alexandra Basin, Dublin Port

Consent executed

Lease – 04/05/2115 Licence - 19/06/2022 S10 Consent - N/A

East Wall, Dublin

Consent executed

31/12/2117

Baths (refurbishment)

Dun Laoghaire

Consent executed

27/11/2115

Sir John Rogerson’s Quay

Determination

Maintenance Dredging

Dublin Port and approach channel

Consent executed

08/05/2019

Site Investigations

Dublin Port and approach channel

Consent executed

31/03/2021

Avoca River and Estuary, Arklow

Consent executed

29/11/2021

Moorings

Dun Laoghaire Harbour

Under consideration

Mooring / Data Buoy

Scotsman's Bay, Dun Laoghaire

Consent executed

30/11/2021

Site Investigations

Dublin Bay

Consent executed

02/08/2022

St. Michael’s Pier, Dun Laoghaire

Determination

Berth 50 Dublin Port

Consent executed

S10 Consent - N/A

Corbaun Lane, Dun Laoghaire

Consent executed

Licence dated 21/12/2018 – No expiry date specified

Arklow

Determination

Dublin Port

Consultation

Maintenance Dredging

Dublin Port and approach channel

Consent executed

30/09/2021

Foul water pipeline

Dun Laoghaire

Consent executed

21/11/2056

Platform and approach steps

Dun Laoghaire

Consent executed

01/07/2061

Storm water pipeline

Dun Laoghaire

Consent executed

03/04/2068

Slipway

Dun Laoghaire

Consent executed

01/07/2061

Outfall pipe

Dun Laoghaire Harbour

Consent executed

13/01/2076

Foul water outfall

Shanganagh

Consent executed

15/08/2078

Storm water outfall

Shanganagh

Consent executed

23/09/2081

Foul water pipeline

Dublin Bay

Consent executed

01/01/2088

Gas pipeline

Sandymount Strand

Consent executed

01/04/2033

Marina

Dun Laoghaire

Consent executed

29/12/2098

Slipway

Coliemore Road, Dalkey

Consent executed

15/05/2037

Seaport - reclamation

Pigeon House Road

Consent executed

31/12/2099

Ferry - access linkspan

Dun Laoghaire Harbour

Consent executed

14/12/2036

Seawall breakwater

Coliemore Road, Dalkey

Consent executed

01/08/2103

Marina

Pigeon House Road

Consent executed

S10 Consent - N/A

Reclamation

Pigeon House Road

Consent executed

01/05/2045

Industrial facility

South Wall, Dublin

Consent executed

01/09/2048

Seaport Wharf

South Wall, Dublin

Consent executed

19/01/2104

Platform and approach steps

Seapoint

Consent executed

13/03/2058

Foul water outfall

Greystones

Consent executed

18/01/2030

Coastal Protection

Bray

Consent executed

01/07/2034

Harbour Road, Arklow

Consent executed

30/06/2020

Slipway

Wicklow Harbour

Consent executed

01/04/2080

Slipway

Wicklow Town

Consent executed

13/10/2024

Foul water outfall

Wicklow Harbour

Consent executed

01/01/2053

Coastal Protection

Wicklow Town

Consent executed

08/06/2082

Slipway

Wicklow Harbour

Consent executed

01/02/2065

Mooring

Wicklow Harbour

Consent executed

01/06/2029

Boatyard

Wicklow Town

Consent executed

17/06/2073

Industrial facility

Wicklow Town

Consent executed

11/10/2075

DAS

Broadlough, Wicklow

Consent executed

02/12/2076

Amenity Area

Wicklow Harbour

Consent executed

19/02/2081

Berth construction

Wicklow Harbour

Consent executed

02/07/2081

Harbour Works (SI 203 of 1979)

Wicklow Harbour

Consent executed

13/11/2078

Industrial facility

Wicklow Town

Consent executed

07/08/2084

Industrial facility

Wicklow Town

Consent executed

01/06/2086

Storm water outfall

Bray

Consent executed

30/07/2085

Storm water outfall

Greystones

Consent executed

16/01/2085

Storm water outfall

Wicklow Town

Consent executed

01/05/2025

Electricity Cable

Sandymount Strand and Merrion Strand

Consent executed

03/05/2036

Communications Cable

Sandymount Strand

Consent executed

01/07/2035

Questions Nos. 282 and 283 answered with Question No. 253.

Defective Building Materials

Questions (284)

Joe McHugh

Question:

284. Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage if he envisages changes to the upper limits of the mica scheme for counties Donegal and Mayo; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8398/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

The Dwellings Damaged by the Use of Defective Concrete Blocks in Construction (Remediation) (Financial Assistance) Regulations 2020 came in to operation on 31 January 2020 and the resulting Defective Concrete Blocks Grant scheme has been open for applications since the end of June 2020. The scheme was informed by the work of an Expert Panel and the current maximum grant amounts payable under the scheme were finalised in consultation with the Office of the Attorney General and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform. This process also took account of the comprehensive engagement that took place between my Department and both Donegal and Mayo County Councils, who operate and administer the scheme.

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 are significant and range from €275,000 to €55,000 depending on the remedial option.

Limits such as these have to be a feature of grant schemes to ensure that the schemes can be budgeted for with the potential financial liability known at all times and also to ensure that the available budget can benefit the majority of properties and the maximum number of people.

As the application process only opened in June 2020 it would be premature to consider or make any changes to the scheme at this time. I am keeping progress on the scheme under review and engaging with both the local authorities and local action groups on the matter.

Defective Building Materials

Questions (285)

Joe McHugh

Question:

285. Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage if local authority housing is included in the mica remediation scheme in counties Donegal and Mayo; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8402/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

The Defective Concrete Blocks Grant scheme applies to private dwellings in Donegal and Mayo that have been damaged due to the use of defective concrete blocks. In respect of local authority housing stock, Section 58 of the Housing Act 1966 provides that management and maintenance is a matter for each individual local authority. This includes maintenance programmes and carrying out of responsive repairs and pre-letting repairs.

My Department provides support to local authorities in terms of various targeted social housing stock upgrade programmes, large-scale urban regeneration programmes, support for the return of vacant units to productive use, the Energy Retrofitting Programme and adaptations and extensions for people with disability in social housing.

In respect of local authority housing stock in Donegal and Mayo my Department has engaged with both authorities in relation to homes which may be impacted by defective concrete blocks. My Department will give due consideration to any submissions received on the matter from the respective local authorities.