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Tuesday, 14 Dec 2021

Written Answers Nos. 280-296

Question No. 280 answered with Question No. 276.

Question No. 281 answered with Question No. 276.

Question No. 282 answered with Question No. 276.

Question No. 283 answered with Question No. 266.

Question No. 284 answered with Question No. 276.

Question No. 285 answered with Question No. 266.

Question No. 286 answered with Question No. 276.

Question No. 287 answered with Question No. 276.

Question No. 288 answered with Question No. 276.

Question No. 289 answered with Question No. 276.

Question No. 290 answered with Question No. 266.

Question No. 291 answered with Question No. 266.

Housing Schemes

Questions (292)

Neasa Hourigan

Question:

292. Deputy Neasa Hourigan asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage if applicants to the Rebuilding Ireland home loan are required to wait until three months after their last employment wage subsidy scheme payment until they can be approved for a mortgage; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [61455/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

Local authorities when processing Rebuilding Ireland Home Loans (RIHL) must lend mortgages on a prudent basis, taking into account the most recent income and employment data available. It would not be appropriate to lend when there is an identifiable risk that the person’s income and ability to pay might not return to the level required to support the borrowing requested. This is both for the protection of the lender and the borrower, in particular to seek to ensure that borrowers are not left with unsustainable debt burdens, given that a mortgage is a long-term commitment.

Under the RIHL Scheme, where an applicant’s employer is availing of EWSS and an applicant is approved for an RIHL, drawdown would not usually commence until their unsupported income post EWSS has returned to the level specified in the original application for a period, usually up to three months.

However, given the ongoing COVID-19 situation, I issued a further direction to Local Authorities on 1 December 2021 in Circular 41/2021 for applicant(s) who have an approval in principle and wish to draw down their mortgage. Local Authorities now have discretion, on a case-by-case basis, to allow drawdown for applicant(s) whose employer is availing of EWSS, if repayment capacity can be assured based on the applicant(s)’ income and if a letter of assurance from the employer availing of EWSS confirming the sustainability of the applicant(s) employment is submitted

The final decision on Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan applications is a matter for the relevant local authority.

Housing Provision

Questions (293)

Rose Conway-Walsh

Question:

293. Deputy Rose Conway-Walsh asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage when the annual statutory summary of social housing assessments will be published; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [61462/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

The 2021 Summary of Social Housing Assessments (SSHA) process is currently underway and the results will be published towards the end of Quarter 1, 2022.

The SSHA is a point in time snapshot of demand for social housing support in local authority areas and does not necessarily reflect continuous entry to and exit from the housing waiting lists. The most recently published summary, conducted in November 2020, shows 61,880 households assessed as qualified for and needing social housing support. This is a decrease of 6,813 households, or 9.9%, on the last assessment in June 2019. Since 2016, the numbers have decreased from 91,600 to 61,880, a decrease of 32.4%.

The summary report for 2020, which includes breakdowns by each local authority across a range of categories, is available at the link below.

SSHA 2020 Report www.gov.ie/en/publication/970ea-summary-of-social-housing-assessments-2020-key-findings/#:~:text=The%20Summary%20of%20Social%20Housing,is%20not%20currently%20being%20met.

Housing Policy

Questions (294)

Holly Cairns

Question:

294. Deputy Holly Cairns asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage if he will update housing circular 41 of 2012 to reflect the relevant changes in Irish immigration law such as SI No. 548/2015 - European Communities (Free Movement of Persons) Regulations 2015. and relevant case law; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [61562/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

Applications for social housing support are assessed by local authorities in accordance with the eligibility and need criteria set down in section 20 of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009 and the associated Social Housing Assessment Regulations 2011 (as amended).

As social housing support is intended to address a household’s long-term housing need it is expected that households applying for such support have a long-term right to reside in the State. My Department is currently reviewing the approach in this area and will finalise proposals in the new year.

Electoral Process

Question No. 296 answered with Question No. 295.

Questions (295, 296, 297, 298, 299)

Eoin Ó Broin

Question:

295. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage if the Electoral Reform Bill 2020 will be enacted in time to carry out the functions currently assigned to a constituency commission under the Electoral Act 1997 following the completion of the Census in 2022. [61566/21]

View answer

Eoin Ó Broin

Question:

296. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage if the Electoral Reform Bill 2020 will be enacted in time to carry out the functions currently assigned to local electoral boundary committees under the Local Government Act 1991 following the completion of the Census in 2022. [61567/21]

View answer

Eoin Ó Broin

Question:

297. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage if he plans to conduct a review of local electoral areas in advance of the next local government elections expected in 2024. [61568/21]

View answer

Eoin Ó Broin

Question:

298. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage if the new electoral Commission will have the remit to carry out reviews of Dáil Éireann and European Parliament boundaries in addition to local electoral boundaries alongside each other following the conclusion of the 2022 census; and if not, if the processes that would be conducted separately. [61569/21]

View answer

Eoin Ó Broin

Question:

299. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage if there have been discussions in relation to or the likely terms of reference for a local government boundary review to be conducted prior to the expected local elections in 2024. [61570/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 295 to 299, inclusive, together.

Article 16 of the Constitution sets out clearly and distinctly the overarching requirements that apply to the membership of Dáil Éireann. In addition, and complementary to the constitutional provisions of Article 16.2 in particular, Part II of the Electoral Act 1997 (as amended) provides for a constituency review following each Census of Population and establishes, among other things, the terms of reference of a Constituency Commission.

In very broad terms, the publication of preliminary census results triggers the establishment of a Constituency Commission under section 5(1) of the Electoral Act 1997 with the Commission required, under section 9(1) of that Act, to present its report on Dáil and European Parliament constituencies to the chairman of the Dáil within three months of publication of final census results. The timing for the publication of both preliminary census results and final census results are matters for the Central Statistics Office but typically have taken place within approximately 3 months and 12 months respectively of the holding of the census.

Notwithstanding the above, in January of this year, Minister O'Brien and I published the General Scheme of the Electoral Reform Bill. The general scheme addresses a number of commitments in the Programme for Government - Our Shared Future including the commitment to establish a statutory Electoral Commission. The general scheme has been published on my Department's website at www.gov.ie/en/publication/34cf6-general-scheme-of-the-electoral-reform-bill-2020/. The Bill is included on the list of priority legislation in the Government's current legislation programme and I expect that it will be published and will commence its progress through the Oireachtas in the new year.

The Electoral Commission will be independent of Government and will report directly to the Oireachtas. Following its establishment, it will, among other matters, take on several existing statutory electoral functions from the outset, including the work currently undertaken by Constituency Commissions.

In September 2020, the Government, on the advice of the Central Statistics Office, decided to postpone the 2021 Census due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The next census is now due to take place on 3 April 2022. The next review of Dáil and European Parliament constituencies will commence following the publication of preliminary census results, will be undertaken in compliance with our constitutional requirements and will be completed in accordance with the statutory timeframe.

Unlike the position for Dáil and European Parliament constituencies, there is no constitutional or legislative requirement for the revision of local electoral areas.

Section 23 of the Local Government Act 2001 empowers the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage to divide a local authority area into local electoral areas and to amend those areas. However, in advance of deciding to make an order under section 23 of the Act, the Minister must, in accordance with section 32(2) of the Local Government Act 1991, request a boundary committee to make a report having regard to such matters as may be specified by the Minister. The publication of Census of Population data is one of a number of factors that informs the preparation of terms of reference for any review of local electoral areas to be undertaken and provides a basis for the work of any Local Electoral Area Boundary Committee(s) which may be established by the Minister from time to time. The Minister must publish the report of the boundary committee and must have regard to the report of that committee when deciding to make an order in relation to the revision of local electoral area boundaries.

Similar to the approach outlined above for the review of Dáil and European Parliament constituencies the General Scheme of the Electoral Reform Bill provides that, following its establishment, the Electoral Commission will take on the work currently undertaken by Local Electoral Area Boundary Committees. No decision has been taken at this point in time in relation to a review of local electoral area boundaries in advance of the next local elections in 2024.

Question No. 296 answered with Question No. 295.
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