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Tuesday, 14 Dec 2021

Written Answers Nos. 245-261

Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

Questions (245)

Johnny Mythen

Question:

245. Deputy Johnny Mythen asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media if the financial supports offered to SMEs in the hospitality and events sector will also apply to travel SMEs; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [61183/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Tourism)

I understand the Deputy is referring to supports for travel agents. Fáilte Ireland administered an Ireland Based Inbound Agents Business Continuity Scheme of €10m in the final quarter of 2020. The overall purpose of the Scheme was to help Irish Based Inbound Agents to withstand the impact of COVID-19 by providing a direct financial contribution to support their business continuity plans.

Fáilte Ireland recently announced indicative details of how the €50m funding provided in Budget 2022 for the Tourism Business Continuity Programme will be allocated to assist strategic tourism businesses, including €11m - €13m for Strategic Ireland Based Inbound Agents who package, sell, and market Ireland’s tourism product overseas. This scheme will open for applications on 12 January 2022 and Fáilte Ireland will hold an industry webinar on 6 January 2022 giving more details.

Travel agents also benefit from many of the Covid-19 horizontal supports provided by Government such as the EWSS and rates waiver.

Supports for Outbound Tour Agents come under the remit of my colleague, Eamon Ryan, Minister for Transport.

Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

Questions (246)

Carol Nolan

Question:

246. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media if her attention has been drawn to statistical information in relation to live performers (details supplied); the measures she is putting in place to support this sector following the latest round of restrictions; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [61335/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Tourism)

I am fully aware of the severe difficulties being faced by live performers and all artists as a result of the pandemic and my Department and I have engaged extensively with stakeholders to understand these challenges and put in place supports for the sector. As the Deputy is aware, new necessary measures to protect public health were introduced from 7 December. This included certain restrictions on capacities for live indoor performance. These restrictions impact on the viability of live performances and in this context, Government recently extended supports under the Covid Restrictions Support Scheme (CRSS) and the Employee Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS) to protect employment in impacted sectors. The Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) has also been reopened for a limited time to support people who lose their employment as a result of the new COVID-19 public health restrictions from Tuesday 7 December 2021.

I have also introduced €50m in sector specific supports, including a support for events that were due to take place in December and January to minimise cancellations and to provide support where these are unavoidable. The supports announced for the sector include:

- €5m for the seasonal musical theatre and pantomime scheme (LPSS 2), funding will increase from €2m to €5m and the turnover requirement is being reduced to €100,000 from €300,000 with applications being accepted until the end of January 2022. This scheme is now open for applications

- €20m for another strand of the Live Performance Support Scheme (LPSS 3), specifically to support performances in December and January which may need to be cancelled, curtailed or rescheduled. This scheme will open for applications on Friday 17 December. Venues, including nightclubs that stage live performances, producers and promoters can apply for up to 50% of their eligible costs

- A minimum of €14m for another strand of the Live Performance Support Scheme (LPSS 4), to support performances being staged from February 2022 to June 2022. This scheme will open in January 2022. If further funds are required the Minister will seek additional funding from the Covid Contingency Fund

- €5m for Local Authorities to support local artists and performances through the LLPSS (Local Live Performance Support Scheme). This will include funding for community and local pantomimes

- €5m to continue the capital supports scheme (CECGS) to venues, including for ventilation upgrades and other COVID adaptations

- €1m for the Saint Patrick's Festival 2022

A further extension of the Music and Entertainment Business Assistance Scheme (MEBAS) which supports businesses in the music sector will be announced in January.

The rationale behind these schemes is to provide employment opportunities for artists, musicians and crew. Thousands of days of employment were generated by the LLPSS and the LPSS over the summer and autumn when other activity was restricted due to public health measures. I am confident that the new strands of the schemes will give much needed employment to musicians, artists and arts workers again, including in the nightclub sector.

I am committed to supporting the live performance and nightclub sector as they journey through this difficult phase and these schemes aim to be as flexible, responsive and timely as possible in that regard.

Sports Funding

Questions (247)

Niamh Smyth

Question:

247. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media the status of an application by a club (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [61369/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Tourism)

The Sports Capital and Equipment Programme (SCEP) is the primary vehicle for Government support for the development of sports and physical recreation facilities and the purchase of non-personal sports equipment throughout the country. The 2020 round of the SCEP closed for applications on Monday 1st March 2021. By the closing date, over 3,100 applications were submitted seeking over €200m in funding. This is the highest number of applications ever received.

The scoring system and assessment procedures were published earlier this year and all applications are being assessed accordingly. Approximately one thousand of the submitted applications were for 'equipment-only' projects. These applications were assessed first and grants with a total value of €16.6m were announced on the 6th August. The associated letter of provisional allocation encouraged all grantees to draw down this funding before year-end if possible and accordingly my Department has been prioritising the payment of all existing grants. Ensuring that as many older grants as possible are paid before year-end will maximise the funding available to allocate to the 2020 capital SCEP applications.

In relation to the 2020 / 2021 capital SCEP applications, which include an application from the club referenced by the Deputy, assessment work is continuing and every effort is being made to complete it as quickly as possible. Given the record number of applications received however, it is likely to take a further number of weeks to have these assessments fully complete with announcement of the final recommended allocations expected early in the New Year.

Tax Code

Questions (248)

Jennifer Carroll MacNeill

Question:

248. Deputy Jennifer Carroll MacNeill asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media if further consideration has been given to proposals made in 2016 for tax breaks to companies that support international athletes that work full-time; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [61434/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Tourism)

The Deputy will appreciate that any proposals regarding taxation policy are ultimately a matter for the Minister for Finance.

While there is no record in my Department of a proposal being received in 2016 on the specific issue of tax breaks for companies that support international athletes that work full-time, proposals were received in recent years regarding the operation of the tax relief scheme for donations to sport more generally.

The National Sports Policy 2018-2027 recognises the significant financial investment by individuals and businesses to support local sports clubs. This is a welcome funding source and the Government tries wherever possible to ensure an enabling environment for sporting bodies to further develop these funding opportunities.

On 29 November I published a Sports Action Plan for the period 2021 to 2023 which sets out the key initiatives that we are going to pursue on our continuing journey to get more people involved in sport and to enhance the way that sport is managed and administered.

With a planned doubling of investment in sport to an annual level of more than €220 million by 2027, the State intends to take the lead in delivering more investment but others will increasingly need to play their part through, for instance, corporate and philanthropic finance. Taxation reform can assist this drive for more funding diversity in Irish sport, not just for high performance sport but also for grassroots sport.

The Action Plan includes several actions relating to funding for sport, including Actions 3.4 and 3.7.

Action 3.4 commits to the introduction of a scheme for the attraction of corporate and philanthropic finance to support Ireland’s high-performance programme, modelled on the “Black Gold” programme in New Zealand.

Action 3.7 commits to the preparation of business cases for possible taxation reform for (a) the granting of charitable status for NGBs (b) the lowering of the €250 eligibility threshold for capital reliefs on individual donations to sports capital projects (c) the extension of the zero-rated VAT regime (d) the extension of taxation reliefs on capital donations to include donations for sports participation/coaching programmes, and (e) the incentivisation of personal exercise opportunities.

Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

Questions (249)

Niamh Smyth

Question:

249. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media if members of the artistic community in receipt of social welfare payments will be eligible for the forthcoming basic income guarantee pilot scheme for the arts and cultural sectors. [61463/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Tourism)

As part of the National Economic Recovery Plan, I secured a commitment from Government to prioritise the development of a Basic Income Guarantee pilot scheme for the arts and cultural sector. Funding for the Basic Income Guarantee Pilot Scheme was a key priority of mine for Budget 2022 and I secured €25m to realise the pilot scheme next year.

As Minister with responsibility for Arts and Culture, I am conscious of the value that this sector brings to all Irish citizens. The importance of Irish culture, Irish art and Irish productions as a whole cannot be overstated - it contributes to individual and societal well-being, as well as contributing to Ireland's reputation as a country with a rich cultural history and output.

My Department is holding a stakeholder consultation forum on December 15th on the basic income guarantee pilot scheme, to provide stakeholders with the opportunity to engage with the policy development and share their views. Stakeholder engagement has been central to my Department's response to the pandemic and this forum will ensure that the arts sector, those working in it and the resource bodies and representative organisations are given the opportunity to feed into the policy development for the scheme. The selection process for recipients of the Basic Income Guarantee pilot scheme will be finalised following this forum, however, I can confirm the following:

- Participation in the scheme will not be based on a means test

- It will be a non-competitive process, therefore once a person satisfies the eligibility criteria they will be included in a randomised selection process

Proposals for the parameters of the scheme will be finalised in light of the stakeholder engagement.

In relation to the Deputy's specific concern, the receipt of social welfare payments will not be a disqualifying criteria.

I believe the Basic Income Guarantee pilot scheme will bring new life and support to the Arts and Cultural Sector and I hope it will provide an important legacy for our artists and creatives. In addition to this measure, I also secured continued investment of €130m for the Arts Council in 2022. Combined, these measures will significantly contribute to the development of the arts in Ireland.

Sports Funding

Questions (250)

Holly Cairns

Question:

250. Deputy Holly Cairns asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media when all applicants to the sports capital programme will be informed of the outcome of the assessment of their applications. [61563/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Tourism)

The Sports Capital and Equipment Programme (SCEP) is the primary vehicle for Government support for the development of sports and physical recreation facilities and the purchase of non-personal sports equipment throughout the country. The 2020 round of the SCEP closed for applications on Monday 1st March 2021. By the closing date, over 3,100 applications were submitted seeking over €200m in funding. This is the highest number of applications ever received.

The scoring system and assessment procedures were published earlier this year and all applications are being assessed accordingly. Approximately one thousand of the submitted applications were for 'equipment-only' projects. These applications were assessed first and grants with a total value of €16.6m were announced on the 6th August. The associated letter of provisional allocation encouraged all grantees to draw down this funding before year-end if possible and accordingly my Department has been prioritising the payment of all existing grants. Ensuring that as many older grants as possible are paid before year-end will maximise the funding available to allocate to the 2020 capital SCEP applications.

In relation to the 2020 / 2021 capital SCEP applications, assessment work is continuing and every effort is being made to complete it as quickly as possible. Given the record number of applications received however, it is likely to take a further number of weeks to have these assessments fully complete with announcement of the final recommended allocations expected early in the New Year.

Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

Questions (251)

Jackie Cahill

Question:

251. Deputy Jackie Cahill asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media the supports Fáilte Ireland will have in place for coach operators for 2021; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [61959/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Tourism)

Fáilte Ireland recently announced indicative details of how the €50m funding provided in Budget 2022 for the Tourism Business Continuity Programme will be allocated to assist strategic tourism businesses, including coach tourism operators, to recover in 2022.

I have referred the Deputy's question to Fáilte Ireland for more details and direct reply on the supports they will have in place for coach operators in 2022. Please contact my private office if you have not received a reply within ten working days.

Departmental Schemes

Questions (252)

Francis Noel Duffy

Question:

252. Deputy Francis Noel Duffy asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage the total State expenditure on HAP in each of the years 2015 to 2020. [61858/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

The Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) is a flexible and immediate form of social housing support for people with a long-term housing need. Any household assessed by their local authority as eligible for social housing is immediately eligible for HAP. These households must find their own accommodation in the private rental sector.

The HAP scheme started in 2014 and at the end of Q3 2021, 97,600 HAP tenancies had been set-up since the scheme commenced, of which there were more than 62,300 households actively in receipt of HAP support and over 33,600 separate landlords and agents providing accommodation to households supported by the scheme.

The following table shows total expenditure by my Department for the HAP scheme for each year 2015–2020:

Year

No. of local authorities operating HAP scheme

Outturn - €m

2015

18

15.6

2016

28

57.7

2017

31

152.7

2018

31

276.6

2019

31

382.4

2020

31

464.7

Waste Management

Questions (253)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

253. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage the extent to which measures for the removal of plastic from the seas surrounding Ireland are in hand; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [61952/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

The two main measures for removal of plastic from the seas surrounding Ireland are the Clean Coasts programme, operated by the Environmental Education Unit of An Taisce, and the Clean Oceans Initiative, incorporating the international Fishing for Litter programme, which is managed by Bord Iascaigh Mhara.

Clean Coasts is funded and supported my Department and is incorporated into our national Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) Programme of Measures as an action to reduce marine litter. Clean Coasts continues to grow and, despite Covid, now has 1,860 active registered groups incorporating approximately 37,000 volunteers. An Taisce estimate that a minimum of 1,350 tonnes of litter was removed by groups in local coastal clean ups in 2021. In addition to the regular clean ups, 405 groups registered for the annual Big Beach Clean event in 2021 removing further estimated 42 tonnes of litter from beaches.

Since 2015 to Quarter 3 2021, the Fishing for Litter programme, part of Bord Iascaigh Mhara's Clean Ocean Initiative, has retrieved and disposed over 670 tonnes of marine litter through a national network of 12 ports with voluntary participation of 144 fishing vessels. In addition, since 2018 the aquaculture sector has retrieved over 165 tonnes of marine litter from commercial shore sites. Further information on the Clean Ocean Initiative is available from the Department of Agriculture food and the Marine.

As well as removing marine litter it is vital to reduce inputs of marine litter into the marine environment in the first place. Effective waste and litter management and control on land and at sea is key to achieving this. Accordingly a wide range of national and transboundary measures implemented across Government Departments and State Agencies are also incorporated into our national MSFD Programme of Measures as actions to reduce the impact of marine litter.

Electoral Process

Questions (254)

Dara Calleary

Question:

254. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage if he will provide an update on the work being done to date to implement a programme for Government commitment (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [61132/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

As part of the work being done by my Department to implement the Programme for Government commitment in relation to considering the Institute of Public Administration (IPA) review of municipal districts, with a view to identifying local needs and the initiatives needed to strengthen and grow our communities, villages and towns in a sustainable manner, a local authority survey was carried out by my Department during the year to obtain the views from the local authority sector of their experience in the operation of Municipal Districts. The survey also focused on how the reform measures introduced in the Local Government Reform Act 2014 have taken effect across the local government sector.

The survey was directed to all Local Elected Representatives (949) and to the 31 Local Authority Executives separately. The survey was also divided up between local authorities that have a municipal district structure and those with area committees.

The findings of the survey will be circulated to the survey respondents in the coming days along with an invitation to attend a series of workshops to be held in the New Year. The outputs from the workshops, along with the survey results will form part of the Department's future proposals on strengthening Municipal Districts.

Fire Service

Questions (255)

Neale Richmond

Question:

255. Deputy Neale Richmond asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage the number of assaults that were recorded on firefighters from 2015 to date in 2021, by county; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [61186/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

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

Attacks on emergency services personnel are completely unacceptable, and this is reflected in the specific legislation dealing with assaults on, or threats to, emergency workers in front line positions as contained in section 19 of the Criminal Justice (Public Order) Act 1994 (as amended by section 185 of the Criminal Justice Act 2006). Section 19 provides that any person who assaults a person providing medical services at or in a hospital, or a peace officer acting in the execution of their duty, is guilty of an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine or a term of imprisonment not exceeding 12 months or both or, on conviction on indictment, to a fine or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 7 years, or to both. A peace officer refers to a member of An Garda Síochána, a prison officer, a member of the fire brigade, ambulance personnel or a member of the defence forces. The offences in section 19 were extended to hospital, ambulance and fire brigade personnel by means of section 185 of the Criminal Justice Act 2006 in order to address the problem of assaults and obstruction of personnel engaged in providing emergency services.

In addition to the special offences under section 19 of the 1994 Act, the general criminal law applies. For example, in the case of an assault causing serious harm to an emergency worker, the offender may be prosecuted under the Non-Fatal Offences Against the Person Act 1997.

With regard to the Fire Service, the provision of a fire service in its functional area is a statutory function of individual fire authorities under the Fire Services Act, 1981 and 2003. Any queries relating to assaults perpetrated against members of the fire service staff, or successful prosecutions taken against those who committed such assaults, should be referred to individual fire authorities. As Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, I have no function in the matter and the information sought is not available in my Department.

Individual fire authorities have engaged with communities in areas where incidents occur with a view to reducing the number of these types of violent attacks. Nonetheless, decisions taken to proceed in specific situations, to avoid incidents, and how to proceed with prosecutions are appropriately made by the relevant authorities, in consultation with An Garda Síochána.

Hare Coursing

Questions (256)

Paul Murphy

Question:

256. Deputy Paul Murphy asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage the reason a local community park (details supplied) is shut to the public during Covid-19 to allow a barbaric and cruel activity such as hare coursing. [61190/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

I issue licences to the Irish Coursing Club to facilitate the capture (under Section 34) and tagging of hares (under Section 32) for closed park meetings under the Wildlife Acts. I have no function in relation to the location of these meetings.

Housing Schemes

Questions (257)

Willie O'Dea

Question:

257. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage if local authority tenants living in Part 5 housing can avail of the proposed new tenant purchase scheme; when the new tenant purchase scheme will be introduced; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [61193/21]

View answer

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. Eligible tenants are those with a minimum reckonable income of €15,000 per annum and who have been in receipt of social housing support for at least one year.

The scheme is governed by the Housing (Sale of Local Authority Houses) Regulations 2015. The regulations provide for specified classes of houses to be excluded from sale, including those provided to local authorities under Part V of the Planning and Development Act 2000.

The Part V provisions seek to promote social integration and secure mixed tenure, sustainable communities. Accordingly, Part V homes are excluded from the scheme to ensure the original policy goals of the legislation are not eroded over time and that they remain available for people most in need of social housing support.

Housing for All, A New Housing Plan for Ireland, commits to maintaining the right of social housing tenants to purchase their own home with some changes to eligibility. This commitment is being advanced as part of the broader social housing reform agenda. I expect to finalise changes to the scheme before the end of the year.

Planning Issues

Questions (258)

Noel Grealish

Question:

258. Deputy Noel Grealish asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage if the temporary provision regarding exempted development in SI No. 30 of 2018, which is due to expire at the end of 2021 will be extended; his plans in relation to same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [61221/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

The Planning and Development (Amendment) (No.2) Regulations 2018 - S.I. No. 30 of 2018 - which came into operation on 8 February 2018, provide for an exemption from the requirement to obtain planning permission in respect of the change of use of certain vacant commercial premises, including vacant areas above ground floor premises, to residential use. This measure was aimed at facilitating the productive re-use of qualifying vacant commercial buildings as homes, while also facilitating urban renewal and the bringing on stream of increased housing supply. The original expiry date of the Regulations was 31 December 2021 which was subsequently extended to 25 February 2022 arising from the Covid-related extension of statutory deadlines within the planning system in respect of the period March to May 2020.

The Government's recently published New Housing Plan for Ireland - Housing for All commits to reviewing and extending the 2018 regulations that exempt certain vacant commercial premises from the requirement to obtain planning permission for change of use to residential purposes to the end of 2025. My Department is presently examining potential areas where the scope of the existing exempted development regulations, introduced by S.I. No. 30 of 2018, might possibly be extended to include other forms of vacant commercial premises.

Under section 262(4) of the Planning and Development Act 2000, as amended, legislative proposals in relation to exempted development require the approval of both Houses of the Oireachtas before they can be signed into law. It is intended to submit the final draft regulations in this regard to the Oireachtas for approval shortly.

Housing Provision

Questions (259)

Eoin Ó Broin

Question:

259. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage the status of the development of the site of St. Kevin’s Hospital, Cork; the number of units of housing that will be delivered on the site; the number of these that will be social; the number that will be cost rental; the number that will be affordable purchase; if the average purchase cost and rental price for the affordable rental and affordable purchase can also be outlined; and the timeline for delivery. [61224/21]

View answer

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. The Land Development Agency Act was recently signed in law and, on commencement, the LDA will be established as a commercial State agency.

The LDA are currently progressing the development of a HSE site at St Kevin's Hospital in Cork. The site is 14.5 acres and is expected to deliver 265 homes, of which there will be 100 houses or duplexes and 165 apartments. In April this year the LDA was granted planning permission for this site and the LDA have advised my Department that a tender for enabling works was recently issued. These enabling works are expected to commence in Q1/Q2 2022, with the first homes delivered in 2023. This is predicated on successful procurement of building contractors through an open tender process.

In line with Part V of the Local Government Act 2000, as amended by Part 6 of the Affordable Housing Act 2021, a minimum of 20% of this site will be developed for local authority social and affordable housing. Furthermore, under the LDA Act, there is a minimum 50% affordable housing delivery requirement for those relevant public lands which are subject to Part 9 of the Act, with a minimum of 80% affordable housing on relevant public lands in urban areas with a population greater than 150,000, that is Dublin and Cork cities. This will be in addition to the increased 20% Part V social and affordable housing obligation introduced under the Affordable Housing Act which will ensure that there will be 100% affordable and social housing on such lands in our largest cities. At this stage, the exact mix of cost rental and affordable purchase on St. Kevin's Hospital is yet to be finalised, however the LDA anticipate that both forms of affordable housing will be delivered on the site

The LDA have advised that the affordable purchase homes will be made available at up to the maximum reduction to market value in line with the Affordable Housing Act 2021, and any subsequent regulations. They have also advised that it is not possible, at this point in time, to state what the price for cost rental homes will be as it will depend on a number of factors such as construction costs.

Traveller Accommodation

Questions (260, 305)

Duncan Smith

Question:

260. Deputy Duncan Smith asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage the extent to which his Department has realised the 18 of the 32 recommendations contained in the Traveller accommodation expert review report and set out as a work plan by the Programme Board for 2021; his plans in 2022 to realise the outstanding recommendations in particular the replacement of local Traveller accommodation consultative committees by Traveller accommodation strategic policy committees; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [61249/21]

View answer

Violet-Anne Wynne

Question:

305. Deputy Violet-Anne Wynne asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage if research has been done into the move away from Traveller specific accommodation as a first-choice preference for young Travellers; his views on whether this is owing to the fact that Traveller specific accommodation is harder to secure; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [61622/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 260 and 305 together.

The Traveller Accommodation Expert Review report, published in July 2019, reviewed the Housing (Traveller Accommodation) Act 1998 and other legislation that impacts on the provision and delivery of accommodation for Travellers. The Research Report 'Experiences of Travellers in the Private Rented Sector' is listed in the Expert Review report among the key reports reviewed. The Expert Review report, which is intended to improve the effectiveness of the arrangements for providing accommodation for members of the Traveller community, has 32 recommendations across 4 categories which are aimed at:

1. Addressing research deficiencies, including how information is gathered and used;

2. Removing any potential delays and obstacles in the planning system in terms of delivery;

3. Increasing resources and delivery capacity; and

4. Strengthening governance arrangements.

Delivery and implementation of the recommendations will involve several areas within my Department as well as input from other Departments, local authorities and other external stakeholders.

A Programme Board established to drive implementation of the recommendations from the Expert Group report has agreed a work programme for 2021 focused on national issues and the local level strategic policy committees will be considered in due course. The Programme Board recently agreed to report progress on implementation of the recommendations on my Department's website. It is expected that this information will be available shortly.

Housing Policy

Questions (261)

Cian O'Callaghan

Question:

261. Deputy Cian O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage if his attention has been drawn to a campaign by several disability organisations (details supplied) in relation to Part M (Access and Use) of the 2010 building regulations; if he will have a time-limited review of Part M of the regulations with a view to changing the regulations in order that they support the construction of new homes that are wheelchair liveable rather than merely wheelchair visitable; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [61298/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

The Building Regulations apply to the design and construction of all new buildings (including dwellings) and to certain works to existing buildings. They are subject to ongoing review in the interests of safety and the well-being of persons in the built environment and to ensure that due regard is taken of changes in construction techniques, technological progress and innovation.

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. Part M aims to foster an inclusive approach to the design and construction of the built environment. While the Part M requirements may be regarded as a statutory minimum level of provision, the accompanying technical guidance encourages building owners and designers to have regard to the design philosophy of universal design and to consider making additional provisions where practicable and appropriate.

Housing needs of people with disabilities are addressed in the National Housing Strategy for People with a Disability (NHSPWD) 2016-2021. A new NHSPWD, is currently being developed by my Department and the Department of Health, with a view to publishing by the end of 2021. The strategy is about facilitating the provision of housing options and related services to disabled people to allow individual choice and support independent living.

In accordance with the vision and strategic aims of the current NHSPWD to achieve a coordinated and integrated approach to meeting the housing needs of people with a disability at local level, Housing and Disability Steering Groups (HDSGs) have been established in all local authority areas. These are chaired by the Directors of Housing with membership including the Health Service Executive (HSE) and disability representatives.

Each HDSG has prepared a local Strategic Plan for its own City/County area, to develop specific local strategies to meet the identified and emerging housing needs of people with disabilities in their areas with a view to developing annual targets for the delivery of housing to people with a disability on their housing waiting lists.

Separately, Action 97 of the National Disability Inclusion Strategy 2017-2021 states – “We will prepare policy advice on ways of achieving universal design solutions for new housing so that new homes can be accessed and used by all persons, irrespective of size, age, ability or disability. We will advise on any implications of same for stakeholders including designers, builders, homeowners and tenants.” I understand that the National Disability Authority (NDA), which falls under the remit of my colleague, the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration, and Youth, is working on this policy advice. The NDA are an independent statutory body that provides information and advice to the Government on policy and practice relevant to the lives of persons with disabilities.

The NDA also provides comprehensive guidance on how to design, build and manage buildings and spaces so that they can be readily accessed and used by everyone, regardless of age, size, ability or disability. 'Building for Everyone, A Universal Design Approach', a NDA publication, may be accessed at www.nda.ie.

The ‘Programme for Government Our Shared Future’ commits to ensuring that there is an appropriate mix of housing design types provided, including universally designed units, and accommodation for older people and people with disabilities.

The joint policy statement Housing Options for Our Ageing Population, launched by my Department and the Department of Health in 2019, includes an Action on universal design to “In partnership with industry, introduce measures to ensure that over a five year period delivery is increased to ensure that 30% of all new dwellings are built to incorporate universal design principles to accommodate our ageing population.”

Appropriate analysis to identify delivery approaches to address this commitment is currently being undertaken by the NDA.

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