National Planning Framework

Ceisteanna (720)

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

720. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government when his officials briefed the media on the NPF and NDP; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9401/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

Given that Project Ireland 2040 is a Government of Ireland initiative, the Department of An Taoiseach through its Strategic Communications Unit had overall responsibility for arrangements surrounding the launch of Project Ireland 2040, including arrangements for media and other briefings.

As part of such arrangements, my Department's National Planning Framework team supported a number of briefing sessions with different media commentators on 14 and 15 February and again on the morning of the launch in Sligo on 16 February.

Question No. 721 answered with Question No. 76.

Ministerial Meetings

Ceisteanna (722)

Pearse Doherty

Ceist:

722. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if a request has been received for a meeting with his Department from a group (details supplied) to discuss matters relating to the local shoreline; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9459/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

I received a request in recent days from this group, through my colleague Minister of State Sean Kyne, TD, to meet with me. The group will be contacted with a response once due consideration has been given to the request.

Nitrates Usage

Ceisteanna (723)

Peter Burke

Ceist:

723. Deputy Peter Burke asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the distance within which spreading of slurry can occur in respect of the boundary of a house. [9469/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

The European Union (Good Agricultural Practice for Protection of Waters) Regulations 2017 give legal effect in Ireland to the Nitrates Directive and to our Nitrates Action Programme (NAP). The Regulations focus, inter alia, on the management of livestock manures and other fertilisers.

In accordance with the requirements of these regulations, all fertilisers should be stored and managed in a responsible manner to ensure the protection of water quality. The Regulations do not specify distances in relation to spreading fertiliser in proximity to dwellings. In order to protect water quality, however, they do include provisions regarding the required distances for spreading organic fertiliser from a surface watercourse, a borehole and a spring or well used for the abstraction of water for human consumption.

Local authorities, under the supervision of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), are the authorities charged with the monitoring and enforcement of these regulations.

Housing Data

Ceisteanna (724, 725)

Seán Sherlock

Ceist:

724. Deputy Sean Sherlock asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of households on the waiting list in County Waterford; and the length of time each has been waiting. [9470/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Seán Sherlock

Ceist:

725. Deputy Sean Sherlock asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of households on the waiting list in counties Wexford, Carlow, Kilkenny and Tipperary; and the length of time each has been waiting. [9471/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 724 and 725 together.

Details on the number of households qualified for social housing support in each housing authority area are provided in the statutory Summary of Social Housing Assessments (SSHA).  The most recent SSHA, carried out in 2017, details the number of households on all local authority waiting lists as at 28 June 2017.

The results of the SSHA are available on my Department’s website and include breakdowns by each local authority across a range of categories. The 2017 report also includes the results of the 2016 summary for comparative purposes. Full details in relation to the 2017 assessment are available on my Department's website, at the following link and the specific information sought by the Deputy can be found at Appendix One: http://www.housing.gov.ie/sites/default/files/publications/files/sha_summary_2017.pdf.

The SSHA is now being carried out an annual basis. I expect the results of the 2018 summary to be available for publication later in the year.

Local Authority Housing Funding

Ceisteanna (726)

Seán Sherlock

Ceist:

726. Deputy Sean Sherlock asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the applications made by Waterford City and County Council to his Department for funding for housing over the past five years. [9472/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

As the Deputy will appreciate, my Department is in receipt of a large volume of applications for funding across a wide range of capital and current related housing programmes for all local authorities, including Waterford City and County Council. Therefore, my Department is not in a position to provide details of all applications over the past five years.

In relation to applications made, my Department has approved a range of projects for Waterford City and County Council and those in the pipeline can be viewed in the latest status report for social housing construction projects, as at end Q3 2017. This report contains key information on social housing construction activity in all local authority areas and is available on the Rebuilding Ireland website at the following weblink: http://rebuildingireland.ie/install/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/Q3-2017-Construction-Status-Report.pdf.

The Q3 2017 report details 772 schemes recently completed, on site, or undergoing planning, design or procurement, which will deliver some 12,300 homes across all local authorities.

In overall terms, significant progress is being made under the Government's Rebuilding Ireland Action Plan on Housing and Homelessness. Over 7,000 new homes were brought into the active social housing stock through build, acquisitions, voids and leasing programmes in 2017. This is a 40% increase on what was planned for the year and a 24% increase over what was achieved in 2016.

Under Rebuilding Ireland, funding has been put in place to accelerate the delivery of social housing across all local authority areas, including Waterford City and County Council. €6 billion in exchequer investment has been secured to support its implementation and to deliver 50,000 social housing units through build, refurbishment, acquisitions and leasing, over the period to 2021.

Further updates on progress under Rebuilding Ireland can be viewed at the following weblink: http://rebuildingireland.ie/news-page/.

A wide range of social housing statistical information on the various housing schemes operated by local authorities is also available at the following weblink:

http://www.housing.gov.ie/housing/social-housing/local-authority-housing-scheme-statistics.

Housing Policy

Ceisteanna (727)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

727. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government his views on the report by the Joint Committee on Housing, Planning and Local Government entitled Safe As Houses (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9498/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

I have read the report entitled Safe as Houses: A Report on Building Standards, Building Controls and Consumer Protection, published by the Joint Committee on Housing, Planning and Local Government on 24 January 2018.

It should be noted that in response to the many building failures that emerged in the last decade, my Department has been working on a building control reform agenda, including the following:

- the introduction of the Building Control (Amendment) Regulations 2014, which require greater accountability in relation to compliance with Building Regulations in the form of statutory certification;

- working closely with the Local Government Management Agency on the oversight and governance of the local authority Building Control System to improve its effectiveness; and

- progressing primary legislation, the Building Control (Construction Industry Register Ireland) Bill 2017, to develop and promote a culture of competence, good practice and compliance with the building regulations in the construction sector.

I will, of course, consider the recommendations contained in the report with a view to identifying any additional reasonable and appropriate measures that may be taken in the interests of strengthening the building control reform agenda underway, as well as increasing accountability and compliance in the construction industry.

With regard to private limited companies providing structural defect insurance cover for new houses, their operations are regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland. As is the case for any private company, their operations are a matter for the management and Board of Directors. I have no function in this regard.

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. It is important to note that while my Department has overall responsibility for establishing and maintaining an effective regulatory framework for building standards and building control it has no general statutory role in resolving defects in privately owned buildings, including dwellings, nor does it have a budget for such matters.

Under the Building Control Acts 1990 to 2014 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 who have extensive powers of inspection and enforcement under the Acts and who are independent in the use of their statutory powers.

Fire Stations Upgrade

Ceisteanna (728)

Eamon Scanlon

Ceist:

728. Deputy Eamon Scanlon asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government when construction is due to commence on the new fire station in Ballinamore, County Leitrim; the expected completion and opening date of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9506/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

The provision of fire services in local authority areas, including the establishment and maintenance of fire brigades, the assessment of fire cover needs and the provision of premises, is a statutory function of the individual fire authorities under the provisions of the Fire Services Acts, 1981 and 2003. My Department supports the fire authorities through setting general policy, providing a central training programme, issuing guidance on operational and other related matters and providing capital funding for priority infrastructural projects.

In February 2016, my Department announced a five-year Fire Services Capital Programme with an allocation of €40 million, based on an annual €8 million allocation, to be used for the purchase of fire appliances and specialist equipment, building or upgrading of prioritised Fire Stations, an upgrade of the Communications and Mobilisation system and improvements to Training Centres.

With regard to Ballinamore fire station, correspondence was initially received in August 2007 outlining works required. Further to this, a Capital Appraisal was requested in January 2008 and received by my Department in March 2010. A further report was submitted by Leitrim County Council in August 2015 detailing a remedial works/refurbishment project costing €120,000. This fire station project has been included under the five-year Fire Services Capital Programme and is listed as one of the stations to undergo remedial/upgrade works.

In July 2017, the Council requested approval for additional works to the initial proposal at a total cost of €400,000. My Department requested a detailed cost plan and description of these proposed works. Following the receipt and evaluation of this information, it was decided to approve Leitrim County Council to proceed to tender stage.

I understand that following this approval tender documents were prepared for the appointment of consultants to design the new station, obtain the necessary permissions (planning, fire safety certificate & disability access certificate), prepare construction tender documentation and supervise construction. In December 2017, these tender documents were forwarded to seven practices seeking tenders.

By the closing date of 18 January 2018, four valid tenders were received by Leitrim County Council. These tenders were assessed and further clarification sought/received. A preferred service provider has been identified and a ‘cooling off’ period is now in place with an expiration date of 28 February 2018. Following this, Leitrim County Council will be able to formally appoint a designer for this project. It is planned to submit an application for Part VIII planning approval on or before 9 April 2018 for presentation at the Council meeting of 2 July 2018. It is expected that construction work will commence on the project in Q3 2018.

My Department continues to work with Leitrim County Council in progressing this project. The projects in the capital programme are reassessed on an annual basis and priority may be adjusted to bring forward projects offering best value-for-money and to take account of the state of readiness of projects generally.

Fire Stations Upgrade

Ceisteanna (729)

Eamon Scanlon

Ceist:

729. Deputy Eamon Scanlon asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government when works are due to commence on the extension to Drumshanbo fire station; the expected completion date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9508/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

The provision of fire services in local authority areas, including the establishment and maintenance of fire brigades, the assessment of fire cover needs and the provision of premises, is a statutory function of the individual fire authorities under the provisions of the Fire Services Acts, 1981 and 2003. My Department supports the fire authorities through setting general policy, providing a central training programme, issuing guidance on operational and other related matters and providing capital funding for priority infrastructural projects.

In February 2016, my Department announced a five-year Fire Services Capital Programme with an allocation of €40 million, based on the current annual €8 million allocation, to be used for the purchase of fire appliances and specialist equipment, building or upgrading of prioritised Fire Stations, an upgrade of the Communications and Mobilisation system and improvements to Training Centres.

With regard to Drumshanbo fire station, correspondence was initially sent to my Department in January 2016 outlining works required. This fire station project has been included under the five-year Fire Services Capital Programme and is listed as one of the stations to undergo remedial/upgrade works. In April 2017, the Council submitted drawings and a cost plan of the proposed extension to the fire station at a total cost of €110,000. Following the receipt and evaluation of this information, it was decided to approve Leitrim County Council to proceed to tender stage.

I understand that following this approval, the appropriate documentation was prepared for the appointment of consultants to design the new extension, obtain the necessary permissions (planning, fire safety certificate & disability access certificate), prepare construction tender documentation and supervise construction. In December 2017, these tender documents were forwarded to interested practices seeking tenders.

By the closing date of 18 January 2018, two valid tenders were received. Currently these tenders are being assessed by Leitrim County Council and it is hoped to formally appoint a designer for the project shortly. Based on the initial design brief, it is expected that a minimum of two months will be assigned to the design phase of this project and a further two months will be required for the tendering process. At this point, it is envisaged that construction work will commence, at the earliest, in August 2018 with an expected completion date of November 2018.

Upon receipt of a tender proposal, my Department will continue working with Leitrim County Council to progress this project. The projects in the capital programme are reassessed on an annual basis and priority may be adjusted to bring forward projects offering best value-for-money and to take account of the state of readiness of projects generally.

Departmental Expenditure

Ceisteanna (730)

Pearse Doherty

Ceist:

730. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government his Department's capital allocation in each of the years 2018 to 2022; and the areas to which funds will be allocated in each of those years. [9522/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

The capital allocation for my department as announced in the National Development Plan 2018-2027 for the period 2018-2022 amounts to €10.232 billion. This allocation will be used to fund the programmes announced in the National Development Plan 2018-2027 in areas such as Housing, Urban Regeneration and Irish Water. The annual breakdown of funding is as follows:

Capital Allocations 2018-2022 (€m)

2018

2019

2020

2021

2022

Housing, Planning & Local Government

€1,631

€2,033

€2,079

€2,209

€2,280

Local Authority Members' Remuneration

Ceisteanna (731)

Eoin Ó Broin

Ceist:

731. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the cost of the local councillors representational allowance and the local councillors annual allowance for each of the years 2011 to 2018. [9531/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

The Representational Payment for local authority elected members recognises the work that councillors volunteer to undertake when they stand for election and subsequently serve their community.

The following tables set out the annual amounts of the Representational Payment for elected members of local authorities over the period 2011 to 2018, showing adjustments made in accordance with the relevant provisions of the FEMPI Acts 2009-2015 and the Public Service Pay and Pensions Act 2017.

Local authority

From 1 January 2010

From 1 July 2013

From 1 April 2017

From 1 January 2018

County Councils, City Councils, and City and County Councils

€16,724

€16,565

€16,645

€16,891

Local authority

From 1 January 2010

From 1 July 2013 until the dissolution of town councils under the 2014 local government reforms

Borough councils, and the town councils of Athlone, Bray, Dundalk, Ennis and Tralee

€8,362

€8,283

Other rating town councils together with the non-rating town councils of Balbriggan, Droichead Nua, Greystones, Leixlip, Mullingar, Portlaoise and Shannon

€4,181

€4,141

All other non-rating town councils

€2,281

€2,253

The total estimated cost of the Representational Payment was approx. €17.9 million per annum prior to the implementation of the 2014 local government reforms and approx. €15.7 million per annum thereafter. This will increase to approx. €16 million for 2018 following the increase to the Representational Payment from 1 January 2018.

Elected members of local authorities also receive a composite annual expenses allowance designed to defray in a structured way reasonable expenses incurred by them in attending meetings associated with their council business. This is calculated using a formula based on the distance from their home to the council offices, standard civil service travel and subsistence rates and a notional number of meetings which a local authority would be expected to hold in a year based on 4 meeting bands.

Under section 142(3)of the Local Government Act 2001, as amended, local authorities are required to maintain public registers of attendances at meetings and payments made to elected members. This information may be viewed on each local authority website.

My Department has estimated, based on a minimum travel distance of 16km from Council Headquarters to a member's residence, that, prior to the implementation of the 2014 local government reforms, the total annual cost of expenses allowance payments made to 1,627 elected members in 114 local authorities was approx. €6 million per annum. The total estimated minimum cost following the implementation of the 2014 reforms is €5.2 million per annum paid to 949 elected members in 31 local authorities.

Question No. 732 answered with Question No. 58.

Housing Loans

Ceisteanna (733)

Jackie Cahill

Ceist:

733. Deputy Jackie Cahill asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if an anomaly will be addressed in view of the fact that this will have the effect of putting a person through unnecessary expense in securing planning permission for a site when the person may not ultimately receive approval for a loan under the scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9561/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

It continues to be the case under the Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan, as with the previous local authority housing finance offerings, that applicants applying for loan approval to build their own home are required to have, in respect of the site on which the construction is to occur, full planning permission in place prior to submitting a loan application. Local authorities cannot issue an offer of finance for a self-build project, without planning permission first being in place.

Question No. 734 answered with Question No. 54.

Local Authority Housing Funding

Ceisteanna (735)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

735. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the detail of funding allocated by Westmeath County Council for 2017; and the amount spent in terms of the rental accommodation scheme, housing assistance payment and long-term leasing arrangements. [9587/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

The three current expenditure funded social housing schemes, which include the Rental Accommodation Scheme (RAS), the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) and the Social Housing Current Expenditure Programme (SHCEP), are critical components of the accelerated delivery of social housing envisaged under Rebuilding Ireland. It is anticipated that more than 111,000 households will have their housing need met by one of these schemes in the period to 2021. A specific budgetary allocation is not made on a county by county basis under these schemes; rather, in order to ensure that the maximum output can be achieved, funding is available on the basis of performance and capacity to deliver new social homes using these schemes.

SHCEP supports the delivery of social housing by providing financial support to local authorities for the long term leasing of houses and apartments from private owners, developers and Approved Housing Bodies (AHBs). Properties made available under the programme are used to accommodate households from local authority waiting lists. Leased properties are allocated to tenants in accordance with the relevant local authority’s allocation scheme. My Department recoups the cost of the agreements that are made with private property owners, including AHBs, to the local authorities. Expenditure includes the ongoing cost of contractual arrangements and relevant cost of new contracts made within the year.

Total Exchequer funding for SHCEP in 2017 was €83.947m; of this amount, a total of €1,714,383 was recouped to Westmeath County Council. This supported the ongoing contractual commitments of 341 dwellings, operational at end 2017.

The Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) is a flexible and immediate housing support that is now available to all eligible households throughout the State. There are currently over 33,000 households in receipt of HAP and over 20,000 separate landlords and agents providing accommodation to households supported by the scheme. HAP commenced in Westmeath County Council on 1 December 2016 and the total numbers of active HAP tenancies at end 2017 was 366. The 2017 average monthly rent paid to landlords under the HAP scheme in Westmeath was €540.

In respect of the provision of HAP funding, Limerick City and County Council provides a highly effective HAP transactional shared service on behalf of all local authorities. This HAP Shared Services Centre (SSC) manages all HAP related rental transactions for the tenant, local authority and landlord. Accordingly, my Department does not recoup individual local authorities in respect of HAP rental payments in their administrative areas but rather recoups all landlord costs via the HAP SSC.

My Department has, since 2015, provided local authorities with a HAP administrative payment of €150 per HAP household on the basis of the cumulative number of new households supported through HAP in each year. This administrative payment recognises the resources required to manage the HAP process by local authorities. Westmeath County Council has received a HAP administrative payment of €24,150 in respect of households supported by them at mid-year 2017.

RAS was established in 2004 and placed responsibility on local authorities to meet the accommodation needs of people in receipt of Rent Supplement for 18 months or longer, and who are assessed as having a long-term housing need. RAS provides a more structured, accommodation-based approach to the use of the private rented sector to meet long-term housing need, thereby eliminating dependence on temporary income support payments, i.e. rent supplement. On a phased basis, long-term Rent Supplement recipients will transfer to social housing and have their longterm housing need met by local authorities under the RAS.

At 31 December 2017, 60,338 households with a long-term housing need have been transferred from Rent Supplement to RAS and other social housing solutions nationally. Of these, 34,493 were housed directly under RAS and a further 25,895 were accommodated under other social housing options, excluding HAP. Since the first transfers commenced in 2005 to end of December 2017, Westmeath County Council has transferred 1,105 Rent Supplement recipients directly to RAS and a further 341 to other social housing options, excluding HAP.

A total of €134.338 million was allocated to RAS in 2017. Of this, the total RAS expenditure in 2017 for Westmeath County Council was €3,902,877. This funding supported the continuing cost of Westmeath County Council’s 575 existing RAS contracts at the beginning of 2017, as well as the transfer of an additional 100 tenancies from Rent Supplement to RAS during 2017.