Social and Affordable Housing

Ceisteanna (56)

Richard Boyd Barrett

Ceist:

56. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if housing assistance payment, HAP, and rental accommodation scheme, RAS, tenancies will be redefined in a way that acknowledges that these tenancies are not the same as local authority tenancies (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26888/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

Demand for social housing is met in a variety of ways including through the private rental sector under schemes such as the Rental Accommodation Scheme (RAS) and the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) scheme.  Using a variety of mechanisms to deliver social housing makes social housing supports more responsive and flexible, ensures a better mix between private and social housing and creates more sustainable communities.

A key principle of the HAP scheme is that eligible households source their own accommodation in the private rented sector, which best suits their needs, in their area of choice. This is distinct from RAS, which is a different type of social housing support, where the tenant may not always find their own accommodation and instead are allocated a dwelling in accordance with Section 22 of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009. Unlike HAP, where a RAS tenancy is ending, the local authority retains the responsibility to source further accommodation for that household.

Both RAS and HAP provide over 56,000 households with more security than rent supplement and they also facilitate those households to increase their household income without the risk of losing their housing support. Both HAP and RAS supported households also have access to the local authority transfers lists, which form part of each local authority’s Scheme of Letting priorities. This provides those in receipt of social housing support with the opportunity to transfer to another tenancy, including dwellings owned by local authorities and approved housing bodies.

I am satisfied that the contractual arrangements underpinning RAS and HAP tenancies, which meet the social housing need of so many households across the country, serve those households well.

Local Authority Housing Data

Ceisteanna (57, 62)

Niamh Smyth

Ceist:

57. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of houses acquired or purchased by Cavan and Monaghan county councils in each of the years 2013 to 2017 and to date in 2018; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26872/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Niamh Smyth

Ceist:

62. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of houses built by Cavan and Monaghan local authorities in each of the years 2013 to 2017 and to date in 2018; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26871/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 57 and 62 together.

Details of the number of houses that have been built and acquired by local authorities, including in counties Cavan and Monaghan, in each of the years 2013 to 2017, are published and available on my Department's website at the following link: http://www.housing.gov.ie/housing/social-housing/social-and-affordble/overall-social-housing-provision.  These details in respect of 2018 will be published on a quarterly basis as soon as the collection and validation process for the statistics is completed.

Home Loan Scheme

Question No. 59 answered with Question No. 39.

Question No. 60 answered with Question No. 40.

Ceisteanna (58, 70)

Darragh O'Brien

Ceist:

58. Deputy Darragh O'Brien asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of Rebuilding Ireland home loans processed by the Housing Agency to date; the number granted and refused, respectively; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26732/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

John Curran

Ceist:

70. Deputy John Curran asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of home loans that have been applied for; the number approved and drawn down under the Rebuilding Ireland home loan scheme; the number in relation to figures (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26673/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 58 and 70 together.

As with the previous local authority home loan offerings, loan applications under the Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan are made directly to the local authority in whose area the property proposed for purchase is situated. My Department does not directly collect information on the number of enquiries to local authorities regarding the loan or the number of loan applications received by local authorities.

However, as is currently the case, my Department will continue to publish information on the overall number and value of (i) local authority loan approvals and (ii) local authority loan drawdowns.  Information up to Q3 2017 is available on the Department's website at the following link: http://www.housing.gov.ie/housing/statistics/house-prices-loans-and-profile-borrowers/local-authority-loan-activity, and this information will be updated on a quarterly basis as additional data is compiled.

The Housing Agency provides a central support service which assesses valid loan applications that are made to the local authorities and makes recommendations to the authorities as to whether loans should be offered to applicants.  I have asked the Agency to centrally compile figures of the numbers of applications that it has assessed and the most recent figures, as at the end of May, indicate that the Agency had received a total of 1,499 applications for assessment from local authorities, 1,150 of which were deemed to be valid. Of these valid applications, 876 had been assessed and 52% of the valid applications that had been assessed by the Agency had been recommended for approval. 

Each local authority must have in place a credit committee which makes the final decision on applications for loans, in accordance with the regulations and having regard to the recommendations made by the Housing Agency.

With regard to the values of the loans approved to date, figures are not available concerning the breakdown of amounts approved in the manner referred to. However, the Housing Agency have advised that the average loan amount for the 458 applications recommended for approval by the end of May was €189,133.

Question No. 59 answered with Question No. 39.
Question No. 60 answered with Question No. 40.

Rental Sector Strategy

Question No. 62 answered with Question No. 57.

Question No. 63 answered with Question No. 43.

Ceisteanna (61, 81)

Mick Barry

Ceist:

61. Deputy Mick Barry asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government when the expert group report on a company (details supplied) will be finalised; his views on the way in which the company's lettings are proliferating at the expense of traditional lettings in city centres; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26808/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Jan O'Sullivan

Ceist:

81. Deputy Jan O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government when new legislation or regulations to restrict short-term lettings will be introduced in order to prevent such use on a full-time basis of properties that would otherwise be available as homes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26826/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 61 and 81 together.

Under Action 18 of the Strategy for the Rental Sector, my Department established a Working Group, involving representatives of all major public stakeholders with a policy interest in short-term lettings, to develop guidance in relation to planning applications, changes of use relating to short-term lettings and to examine the need for new regulatory arrangements.   

The proposals under consideration by the Working Group, which has met on six occasions to date, have been aimed at facilitating short-term letting of accommodation within permanent residences, known as home-sharing, while protecting existing stock of residential property in areas of high demand, safeguarding neighbourhood amenity and consumer protection, and generating revenue to address any negative externalities of short-term letting.

The Working Group completed guidance for local authorities on planning applications relating to short-term lettings and my Department issued a circular on the matter last October.  The circular is available on my Department's website at the following link: 

http://www.housing.gov.ie/sites/default/files/publications/files/circular_pl10_aph3_2017.pdf .

The Group has since been focused on developing proposals for an appropriate comprehensive regulatory approach for short-term tourism-related lettings as well as identifying amendments to relevant legislation as may be necessary to give effect to such a regulatory regime.

The report of the Working Group has now been submitted to my Department and I will complete my consideration of it without delay.

Question No. 62 answered with Question No. 57.
Question No. 63 answered with Question No. 43.

Housing Policy

Ceisteanna (64)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Ceist:

64. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government his policy in relation to the building of single rural council houses on land provided at a nominal cost by the applicant; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26428/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

As housing authorities, local authorities are responsible for the identification of the social housing need in their area and for the development of appropriate responses to the need identified.

Local authorities now have substantial pipelines of new social housing projects, details of which can be seen in the quarterly Social Housing Construction Status Reports published by my Department. The most recently available report sets out the position as at end 2017 and is available on the Rebuilding Ireland website at the following link: http://rebuildingireland.ie/news/minister-murphy-publishes-social-housing-construction-status-report-q4-2017/.

As can be seen in this report, my Department is supporting local authorities in the delivery of a range of social housing schemes from small to larger scale developments. This includes single rural dwellings where the authorities concerned have prioritised such projects as part of their overall work to meet their social housing targets and respond to local housing need.

Building Energy Rating Compliance

Ceisteanna (65)

Catherine Martin

Ceist:

65. Deputy Catherine Martin asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government his plans to introduce new regulations to end the use of fossil fuel heating systems in new homes. [26874/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

The Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Act 2015 sets out the national objective of transitioning to a low carbon, climate resilient and environmentally sustainable economy in the period up to 2050.  It requires the publication of a national low carbon transition and mitigation plan every five years. In this regard, my Department is required to identify and develop sectoral mitigation measures for the built environment.

Ireland’s National Mitigation Plan published in 2017 takes account of the measures to be implemented in the buildings sector that are required to meet the EU's energy related targets. These measures include reductions in the use of fossil fuel systems and an increase in the use of renewable energy.

It should be noted that my Department has lead responsibility for implementing the EU Energy Performance of Buildings Directive. This Directive sets the requirements at an EU level for Member States to improve the energy performance of buildings and to make an important contribution to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.  Article 9(1) of the Directive requires Member States to ensure that by 31 December 2020, all new buildings are nearly zero-energy buildings.

The Directive defines a Nearly Zero Energy Building, or “NZEB”, as a building that has a very high energy performance and that the nearly zero or very low amount of energy required should be covered to a very significant extent by energy from renewable sources, including energy from renewable sources produced on-site or nearby. This definition was incorporated in the Building Regulations 1997 – 2017 last year through the Building Regulations (Amendment) Regulations 2017.

My Department has progressively updated Part L of the Building Regulations, relating to the Conservation of Fuel and Energy in Dwellings, over the last decade in order to improve the energy and carbon dioxide emissions performance of all new dwellings to achieve these “NZEB” performance levels. These incremental improvements have effectively eased the transition and minimized the additional effort required to achieve the NZEB performance for dwellings.

In 2007, Part L was revised to achieve a 40% improvement in the energy and carbon dioxide emissions performance over 2005 performance levels for new dwellings and, in addition, a mandatory renewables requirement for new dwellings was also introduced. This review also introduced a requirement that new and replacement fossil fuel boilers should be energy efficient condensing boilers, where practical.

In 2011, Part L of the Building Regulations was further revised to achieve an improvement of 60% in the energy and carbon dioxide emissions performance over 2005 standard for all new dwellings.

In addition, I have recently published a public consultation on further improvements to Part L of the Building Regulations to achieve the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive NZEB performance requirements.  My Department is currently reviewing the results of this consultation, and when implemented,  it will represent an improvement of 70% in energy and carbon dioxide emissions performance over 2005 standards for all new dwellings commencing construction from early 2019, subject to transition arrangements.

Under current regulations a typical new dwelling is built to an A3 Building Energy Rating (BER). The new Part L performance requirement will equate to a typical new dwelling having a BER of A2.  The amended Part L Building Regulations will stipulate that new dwellings can achieve the new standards by making provisions that represent : -

- A 70% improvement in energy efficiency for new dwellings (relative to 2005 base year standards)

- A 70% reduction in CO2 emissions (again relative to the 2005 base year standards), and

- 20% renewables as a percentage of total building energy use.

These requirements make it more attractive for builders and homeowners to further incorporate renewable technologies and move away from traditional fossil fuels.

It is estimated that the cumulative improvements to regulations mean that a dwelling built to the 2011 regulations requires 90% less energy than the equivalent dwelling built in 1978 to deliver the same standards of heat, hot water and light.  Very significant progress has, therefore, been made in this area, even before the new initiatives outlined above.  

Arising from further improvements to Part L, the move from fossil fuels to renewable energy is expected to accelerate and will contribute significantly to meeting Ireland's climate change commitments.

Water and Sewerage Schemes

Ceisteanna (66)

Aindrias Moynihan

Ceist:

66. Deputy Aindrias Moynihan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the status of the review of the demonstration scheme for group sewerage schemes; when a report will be available; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26865/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

The Multi-Annual Rural Water Programme 2016-2018 was developed through a working group of key stakeholders involving local authorities, the Water Services Transition Office, Irish Water and the National Federation of Group Water Schemes, as well as my Department. The programme provides for the funding of demonstration group sewerage schemes, through measure 4(d), where clustering of households on individual septic tanks is not a viable option, particularly from an environmental perspective.

Local authorities were invited in January 2016 to submit bids under the programme. The invitation envisaged no more than two demonstration group sewerage projects being brought forward under the measure in any one year of the three-year programme. The demonstrations will allow my Department, over the course of the programme, to determine the appropriate enduring funding levels and relationship with the current grant scheme.

My Department is currently addressing the recommendations contained in the April 2017 report of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on the Future Funding of Domestic Water Services as they relate to the rural water sector. In this regard, in April 2018, I established a Working Group to conduct a wider review of the investment needs of rural water services.  In addition to my Department, the Working Group comprises: the Department of Rural and Community Development, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Health Service Executive, the National Federation of Group Water Schemes and the County and City Management Association.

The Working Group, which has met twice to date, is considering how best to position and resource water services in rural areas so that they can contribute further to the development and long-term sustainability of a comprehensive and cohesive rural water sector that will have the capacity to produce quality outcomes comparable to those available to customers of public water services. 

The Working Group is focusing on the actions required to improve and sustain rural water services, and will consider issues such as governance, supervision and monitoring of the sector, in addition to capital investment priorities and requirements across all elements of rural water services. In keeping with the Joint Oireachtas Committee’s recommendation this Working Group is considering the investment needs of all elements of rural water services including Group Sewerage Schemes.

The terms of reference of the review provide that there will be a two-strand approach to the considerations of the Working Group. Strand 1 will consider the composition and distribution of funding for the Multi-Annual Rural Water Programme from 2019 up to 2021, while Strand 2 will consider the more complex longer-focus issues surrounding the long-term future resourcing of the rural water sector. It is intended that by the end of July the Working Group will produce a summary report on Strand 1 of its deliberations which will outline the rationale for funding priorities for the next cycle of the Multi-Annual Rural Water Programme up to 2021. At that time the Working Group will also set out time frames for its consideration of, and reporting, on the more complex longer-focus Strand 2 matters.

An Bord Pleanála Remit

Ceisteanna (67)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Ceist:

67. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the steps he plans to take to ensure all of An Bord Pleanála decisions are taken expeditiously; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26429/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

Under section 126 of the Planning and Development Act 2000, as amended, An Bord Pleanála  has a statutory objective to determine planning appeals within 18 weeks. Where the Board does not consider it possible or appropriate to reach a decision within 18 weeks (e.g. because of the particular complexities of a case or the requirement to hold an oral hearing), it will inform the parties of the reasons for this, and will indicate when it intends to make its decision.

The compliance rate with the statutory objective period has been reduced over the past year due to a number of factors. Firstly, there was a reduction in Board capacity in mid-2017, arising from a time interval between the departure of five outgoing Board members, whose terms of office had expired in April and May, and the five new replacement Board members taking up their posts.  While, by September 2017, the Board complement had been fully replenished, this time interval significantly impacted on the Board’s case work output over the whole year.

In addition, An Bord Pleanála is also implementing a major ICT strategy which will facilitate the introduction of on-line planning services as part of a complete upgrade and replacement of core systems.  In this regard, a new case management system was installed and became operational in Q4 2017.  As is to be expected with such a fundamental and integrated project, the transition to the new system has caused some initial disruption to the processing of cases, resulting in a further increase in the backlog of cases on hand. However, measures have been put in place to ensure that the new system is bedded down and becomes operational at an optimal level as soon as possible.

Furthermore, during this period, there has been a general increase in cases received by the Board.  For example, there was an increase of almost 12% on normal planning appeals received in 2017 compared to 2016; this upward trend has continued into 2018. The intake of normal planning appeals in the four months to end-April 2018 was 17% greater than the intake over the corresponding period to end-April 2017.

Now that the Board's full complement has been restored, combined with the measures that are being put in place in relation to the new ICT systems, it is expected that the backlog of cases will begin to reduce over the coming months, with an associated improvement in the compliance rate with the statutory objective period for the determination of cases.

My Department liaises closely with the Board to ensure that it has appropriate resources in relation to the performance of its functions.  In mid 2017, the Board acquired additional functions in determining planning applications for strategic housing developments.  A new Strategic Housing Division of the Board was established to decide on these applications, involving the recruitment of an additional dedicated 10 professional and administrative staff members in 2017.  Two additional Board members have also been sanctioned to serve this Division, with the appointments being made in February and June this year. 

The Board now has a complement of 11 members and has over 150 staff employed.  I am satisfied that the Board has sufficient and necessary resources to deliver effectively and efficiently on its important statutory mandate and functions.

Local Authority Housing Eligibility

Question No. 69 answered with Question No. 50.

Question No. 70 answered with Question No. 58.

Question No. 71 answered with Question No. 43.

Ceisteanna (68)

Brian Stanley

Ceist:

68. Deputy Brian Stanley asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if the income thresholds for local authority housing will be reviewed in view of the fact that some families that are on a low income are being prevented from applying; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26812/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

The Social Housing Assessment Regulations 2011 prescribe maximum net income limits for each local authority, in different bands according to the area, with income being defined and assessed according to a standard Household Means Policy.

The income bands and the authority area assigned to each band were based on an assessment of the income needed to provide for a household's basic needs, plus a comparative analysis of the local rental cost of housing accommodation across the country. It is important to note that the limits introduced at that time also reflected a blanket increase of €5,000 introduced prior to the new system coming into operation, in order to broaden the base from which social housing tenants are drawn, both promoting sustainable communities and also providing a degree of future-proofing.

As part of the broader social housing reform agenda, a review of income eligibility for social housing supports has commenced. The Housing Agency is carrying out the detailed statistical work on behalf of my Department and I expect the results of this review to be available for publication in late Summer 2018.

Question No. 69 answered with Question No. 50.
Question No. 70 answered with Question No. 58.
Question No. 71 answered with Question No. 43.

Land Availability

Question No. 73 answered with Question No. 50.

Ceisteanna (72)

Eamon Ryan

Ceist:

72. Deputy Eamon Ryan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if he is considering a land use plan to assist in the development of environmental, housing, transport and regional development goals. [26891/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

The National Planning Framework (NPF) was published in February 2018 as part of Project Ireland 2040, which integrates and co-ordinates high-level objectives for environmental, housing, transport, regional development and related matters and sets a strategic context for sectoral investment and land use planning strategies at the more appropriate levels of the regions and local authorities.

For example, the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport is undertaking a strategic assessment of transport policies and approaches to support the implementation of the NPF through its Planning, Land Use and Transport Outlook (PLUTO) 2040, identifying required infrastructure and service provision to meet the needs of Ireland's population between now and 2040.

Regional Assemblies are preparing more detailed Regional Spatial and Economic Strategies to further develop and elaborate on the high-level policies in the NPF and it is anticipated that they will be published in draft format for public consultation in the coming months.  The housing and land management objectives of the NPF are being further developed and implemented by work underway in establishing the new funding sources for urban and rural regeneration and the establishment of the National Regeneration and Development Agency.

The above demonstrates that the Government has already developed a framework for the co-ordination and implementation of environmental, housing, transport and regional development goals and for the addressing of such goals in a land use planning context through the existing statutory processes for planning at regional and local levels. 

Question No. 73 answered with Question No. 50.

Social and Affordable Housing Provision

Ceisteanna (74)

Brian Stanley

Ceist:

74. Deputy Brian Stanley asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the steps he is taking to accelerate the process of approval for new social housing projects; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26813/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

Social housing projects funded by my Department, like all publicly-funded construction projects, must comply with the Government’s Capital Works Management Framework (CWMF), the objectives of which are to ensure greater cost certainty, better value for money and financial accountability.

While there are nine points of review within the CWMF, my Department has combined these to just four for capital-funded social housing construction projects. The social housing construction schemes progressing through the 4-stage approval process are reviewed at each stage by my Department’s Social Housing Delivery team, including architectural and quantity surveyor advisors. The 4 stages are:

Stage 1 – Capital Appraisal submission to establish the business case;

Stage 2 – Pre-planning submission and cost check;

Stage 3 – Pre-tender approval and cost check;

Stage 4 – Tender approval.

These approvals themselves represent only a small proportion of the time taken in advancing a construction project onto site. The approach that is followed means that local authorities forward design proposals and costings to my Department sequentially, as the local authorities advance the projects through their own planning work. Therefore, projects continue to be advanced while stages are cleared and the approval process does not negatively impact on the overall delivery.

However, it is important that we continuously strive for efficiency in the delivery of social housing. Accordingly, a review was undertaken during 2017 of the procedures for such projects, involving both my Department and the County and City Management Association. This review identified an overall target programme of 59 weeks for progressing a typical social housing construction project from initial capital appraisal submission by the local authority (Stage 1), to construction contract award. Once the construction contract is awarded, the time taken to build and tenant the homes varies depending, in particular, on the size of the development, the site conditions and other construction-related factors.

My Department and local authorities also operate a single-stage approval process for projects up to €2m in value, while rapid build approaches are also increasingly being used which can save time in relation to design, procurement and construction of new social housing.

Housing Adaptation Grant Data

Ceisteanna (75, 76, 227)

Jack Chambers

Ceist:

75. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of housing adaptations that have been carried out by local authority in each of the past five years and to date in 2018; the average wait times for houses to be assessed for adaptations; the steps he is taking to accelerate the funding provision for housing adaptations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26727/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

John Brassil

Ceist:

76. Deputy John Brassil asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if the works in lieu scheme is still operational; if it is directly funded by his Department or local authority budget funded; the steps he will take to have the scheme activated in counties in which it is not being utilised as a solution to housing provision; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26435/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Tom Neville

Ceist:

227. Deputy Tom Neville asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if his Department or the local authority determines the works in lieu policy for local authorities. [26947/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 75, 76 and 227 together.

Under the Disabled Persons Grants Scheme (DPG’s), my Department provides funding to local authorities for adaptations and extensions to the existing social housing stock to meet the needs of local authority tenants.

This scheme is also used to provide funding to local authorities for Improvement Works In Lieu (IWIL’s) to enable them to repair, improve or extend privately owned houses that are occupied or intended to be occupied by approved housing applicants, as an alternative to the provision of local authority housing. This allows people to remain in private housing while their housing need is met without increasing the strain on current social housing stock and also reduces the numbers of persons who might otherwise find themselves homeless.

Exchequer funding meets 90% of the cost of DPG's/DPG Extensions and IWIL's, with the local authority providing the remaining 10%. While my Department has responsibility for setting the policy for this scheme, local authorities have delegated authority in respect of the use of the funding and they prioritise allocations based on need. 

Funding recouped to local authorities by my Department has steadily increased in recent years, from over €7m in 2013, to over €13m last year, when improvements in over 1,300 homes were supported.  Over 1,000 homes were improved or adapted in 2016; my Department did not compile central data on the number of units improved or adapted prior to 2016. The utilisation of allocated funding and managing needs, including waiting times, is a matter for individual local authorities.

Local authorities have submitted to my Department details of their work proposals and related funding requirements for this scheme in 2018. These proposals have now been evaluated and funding allocations will be confirmed to the local authorities shortly. In order to ensure that there were no delays for priority and urgent cases, all local authorities were advised that they may undertake works of up to 65% of their 2017 allocation in advance of the notification of their 2018 allocation. This allowed them to plan and progress works under the scheme and allows for the full utilisation of the 2018 allocation throughout the year.

It is open to local authorities to seek additional funding over and above this initial allocation and such requests will be facilitated where funding availability allows. I welcome the efforts being made by all local authorities to improve the quality of life for those with disabilities and those affected by over-crowding. These works will greatly improve the housing conditions for our older tenants and those living with disabilities and addresses issues of overcrowding in existing social housing stock. Improvement works on private homes in lieu of social housing will also provide an alternative for those currently experiencing overcrowding in private accommodation.

Water and Sewerage Schemes Provision

Ceisteanna (77)

Mick Wallace

Ceist:

77. Deputy Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government his views on the wait times for Irish Water to acknowledge, process and communicate final decisions regarding pre-connection applications for sewerage and water; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26820/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

The Water Services Acts 2007-2017 set out clearly the arrangements in place for the delivery of water and wastewater services by Irish Water, including pre-application for sewerage and water services, and further set out the scrutiny and oversight provisions that apply in respect of these arrangements.  Since 1 January 2014, Irish Water has statutory responsibility for all aspects of the planning, delivery and operation of water and wastewater services at national, regional and local levels, and is independent in the exercise of its statutory functions and in relation to day to day operational matters.

The Water Services (No. 2) Act 2013 provides that responsibility for the independent economic regulation of the water sector is assigned to the Commission for Regulation of Utilities (CRU) which has statutory responsibility for protecting the interests of customers.   An important aspect of the CRU’s work is ensuring that Irish Water’s revenue is spent appropriately to improve services for customers. To facilitate this, in November 2016, the CRU (formerly known as the Commission for Energy Regulation) outlined a framework of 19 key performance metrics against which it would monitor Irish Water’s performance and progress over time. The metrics cover customer service, environmental performance, quality of service for water supply, security of water supply and sewerage service. Monitoring Irish Water’s performance relative to these metrics will facilitate an evaluation by the CRU in this regard. It also ensures that transparent data becomes available to customers through the publication of performance data.

The position therefore in relation to pre-connection applications for sewerage and water services, is that such applications are an operational matter for Irish Water, subject to independent oversight by the CRU as appropriate.  

If Deputies have any queries on specific issues in relation to water services, Irish Water has established a dedicated team to deal with representations and queries from public representatives.  The team can be contacted via email to oireachtasmembers@water.ie or by telephone on a dedicated number, 1890 578 578.