Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Grants and Loans for Old Houses.


asked the Minister for Local Government if he will state the numbers and names of local authorities who have adopted a scheme for the payment of grants to those reconstructing and/or improving old houses, and for the granting of loans to those purchasing such premises; if he is aware that the delay of local authorities in not adopting such schemes is holding up building operations with consequent unemployment, and is causing dissatisfaction to would-be applicants; and if he will consider publishing in concise form particulars of the grants and loans available when such a scheme is adopted, and of the steps to be taken by intending applicants.

Housing authorities are not required to submit for my approval schemes for the making of supplementary grants to persons carrying out reconstruction, repair or improvement of houses or for the making of advances in respect of the purchase of old houses. A survey of the grant and loan operations of housing authorities for the year 1958-59 which will take account of the effects of the Housing (Amendment) Act, 1958, will be undertaken at the end of this month.

Pending the findings of the survey, full information is available to me only in the cases of those housing authorities who have prepared schemes to make advances available to persons carrying out works of reconstruction, repair, etc. Twenty-four housing authorities (including three county borough corporations and 12 county councils) have prepared schemes for this purpose.

There are wide variations in the manner in which applicants in different areas defray their portions of expenditure on works of this character. In some areas, the amounts, if any, which they would wish to borrow from the housing authorities would not be significant. In these circumstances I am not prepared to say that there has been delay on the part of the local authorities generally in making arrangements for the payment of grants or in adopting schemes, where necessary, for the making of advances.

With regard to the last part of the question, I circulated last October to each member of each housing authority details of the grants and loans that may be made available and I bespoke their co-operation in bringing them to the notice of all persons likely to be interested. I also obtained considerable Press publicity for the new financial facilities under the Act of 1958. In view of what I have said as to the variations in the requirements of applicants in the different areas, I think that it would be appropriate that any further publicity should be given, where necessary, by the housing authority from whom the particular facilities are available.

Could the Minister indicate if there is any likelihood of the Dublin Corporation, at an early date, extending the Acquisition Acts to cover old houses?

I cannot tell the Deputy that.

Are the schemes uniform as between the different local authorities or has each local authority a discretion as to the type of scheme it will operate?

They have a fair amount of discretion. The schemes are not uniform.

Arising further out of the Minister's reply, in view of the very great importance of this power of the local authorities and the effect it will have on property around the city generally, would the Minister consider bringing some pressure to bear on Dublin Corporation to expedite the extension of these Acts to secondhand houses?

The position of the Minister for Local Government in relation to local authorities as regards these schemes and the making available of these advances is as set out in the Act and it is really permissive legislation. I have tried to make known on every possible occasion my concern and the concern of my Department that these facilities should be made available to the greatest extent possible, and I can only make that appeal to all housing authorities to do all they can under this heading.