Local government has both a representational and an operational role, providing, inter alia, a forum for the democratic representation of local communities, giving expression to local identity, identifying local concerns and setting local priorities.
With regard to the scheme of priority for affordable dwelling purchase arrangements, I will shortly make regulations on matters to be dealt with in such a scheme, including:
- the determination of the suitability of affordable dwellings to meet identified accommodation needs and the manner in which such dwellings are provided to eligible households;
- the classification of households; and
- the order of priority for the sale of affordable dwellings, including priority within household classes.
I do not share the Deputy's concerns regarding the role of local authority members in setting the scheme of priority for the sale of affordable homes, as provided for in the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009. Local elected representatives already perform a number of important analogous functions, including in relation to Schemes of Letting Priorities for social housing.
Notwithstanding this, it should be noted that there will be a requirement for the local authority to provide me, as Minister, with a draft scheme or amendment to the scheme, as the case may be. If I deem it necessary and appropriate to do so, I will have the power to direct the local authority to amend their draft scheme, and under the proposed regulations, the local authority will be obliged to comply with any such Ministerial direction.