House Prices

Ceisteanna (112)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

112. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Finance the measures he plans to take to combat house price inflation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44589/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

The Government’s primary response to mitigating house price inflation is to increase supply. ‘Rebuilding Ireland: An Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness’, which is the primary responsibility of my colleague the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government, sets out a comprehensive package of actionable measures designed to address the ongoing structural constraints within the construction sector and restore the housing market to a sustainable equilibrium.

The latest data on housing activity shows continued strong growth. New Home Completions stood at 16,274 in the 4 quarters to Q2 2018 compared to 11,619 in Q2 2017, an increase of 40 per cent. Planning permission for 26,752 units was granted in the year to Q2 2018, this is an indicator of continued strong growth in home completions and is up 39 per cent on the previous year.

€1.2 billion in capital funding was allocated in Budget 2019 to support the delivery of 10,000 social homes. This included a €310 million allocation for the Serviced Sites Fund out to 2021 to increase the supply of affordable housing. The funding will allow for a discount of up to €50,000 per affordable home. The Land Development Agency (LDA), announced earlier this year, will further contribute to achieving the Government’s targets in the area of affordable housing – with a requirement that 30 per cent of all publicly owned lands developed by the LDA will be reserved for affordable housing purposes. By identifying and coordinating the development of State land the LDA will help drive increased supply and sustainable urban redevelopment.

In addition, the Central Bank of Ireland, as part of its independent mandate to preserve and protect financial stability in Ireland, introduced the macro-prudential measures for residential mortgage lending in February 2015. Although the rules do not explicitly target a reduction in home price inflation, the imposition of Loan to Income and Loan to Value limits, reduces the scope for potential price increases by limiting the amount of credit available to households.

More broadly, the actions taken to increase supply and reduce house price inflation under Rebuilding Ireland are monitored on an ongoing basis and reported publicly through quarterly progress reports.

Housing Loans

Ceisteanna (113)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

113. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Finance if in the effort to combat the cost of the housing crisis, consideration will be given to allowing first-time or subsequent purchasers to buy a rundown property at its current value and the loan to cover the cost of renovation in circumstances in which it is possible; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44591/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

The Central Bank has advised that under the Central Bank loan-to-value rules there is no restriction on the type of lending that the Deputy refers to. The definition of “value” in Central Bank (Supervision and Enforcement) Act 2013 (Section 48), (Housing Loan Requirements) Regulations 2015 (S.I. No. 47 of 2015, as amended by S.I No. 568 of 2016 and S.I No. 559 of 2017) allows for the value to be the current market value of the land and buildings, plus the estimated cost of construction (including renovation) at the time of entering into the loan agreement. If this value is higher than the market value of the property after the all construction works take place, as estimated at the time of entering into the loan agreement, then that estimated market value must be used when calculating LTV.

Departmental Budgets

Ceisteanna (114)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

114. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the extent to which he expects all Departments to observe the budgetary situation as set out in the Budget Statement 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44580/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

Expenditure Report 2019 set out total gross voted expenditure of €66.6 billion for 2019. Of this, €59.3 billion is gross voted current expenditure, while €7.3 billion is gross voted capital expenditure. The Departmental allocations outlined in Expenditure Report 2019 will be set out in further detail in the Revised Estimates Volume (REV) to be published in December.

A key responsibility of each Minister and Department is the effective and efficient delivery of public services within budgetary allocations. In relation to spending, the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform is in regular contact with all other Departments and Offices to ensure that expenditure is being managed within the overall fiscal parameters. The drawdown of funds from the Exchequer is reported on each month against expenditure profiles in the Fiscal Monitor published by the Department of Finance.

Sound public finances are necessary to underpin sustainable economic growth and to support Departments and Ministers in delivering public services. This requires effective and efficient management of overall expenditure. To support this goal, my Department engaged throughout 2018 with a range of Departments on year two of the Spending Review process, with a view to reinforcing a systematic analysis of existing spending programmes, focusing on an assessment of efficiency, effectiveness and sustainability. The Spending Review papers, published both this year and last year, provide an evidence base to inform choices regarding Departmental budgetary allocations and to identify areas of existing spend that require ongoing analysis to ensure value for money is being achieved. These processes, along with the ongoing development of initiatives such as performance budgeting and equality budgeting will continue to support Departments and Ministers during 2019 in ensuring that public expenditure is used in the most effective and sustainable way.

Project Ireland 2040

Ceisteanna (115)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

115. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the extent to which he expects the various targets in Project Ireland 2040 to be achieved on time and within budget; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44586/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

I should first explain that the overall objective of Project Ireland 2040 is to ensure a co-ordinated approach to the development and implementation of policy regarding spatial planning, climate action and infrastructure investment and delivery. Project Ireland 2040 is the overarching policy and planning framework for the social, economic and cultural development of our country.  It includes the National Planning Framework (NPF), backed up by a €116 billion capital investment plan for the period from 2018 to 2027 as set out in the National Development Plan (NDP).

Clearly, all of the targets and budgets set out in Project Ireland 2040 are included because they are expected to be achievable. That said, I also expect that challenges will emerge in the course of implementation. 

For that reason, the implementation of Project Ireland 2040 is being overseen by the Project Ireland 2040 Delivery Board, which is jointly chaired by the Secretaries General of my Department and the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government and is being supported by an Infrastructure Projects and Programmes Office established within my Department. The Delivery Board consists of the Secretaries General of the main capital spending Departments, and will report to Government through the Cabinet Committee on Infrastructure.

The Delivery Board will monitor and oversee the implementation of structures and performance targets across the various sectors to ensure a co-ordinated and collaborative whole-of-Government approach to the successful delivery of the NDP and NPF. In addition, a Construction Sector Group has also been established, to ensure regular and open dialogue between Government and the construction sector in relation to significant issues relating to the successful delivery of the NDP on a value-for-money basis for the Exchequer. 

The leadership provided by the Delivery Board will ensure that implementation challenges are addressed, and Project Ireland 2040 secures the transformational benefits expected.

Flood Relief Schemes

Ceisteanna (116)

Kevin O'Keeffe

Ceist:

116. Deputy Kevin O'Keeffe asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if compensation was paid for structural damage which occurred to private properties during the construction of flood relief measures and consequent to these works carried out by the Office of Public Works at O’Neill Crowley Quay and Ashe Quay, Fermoy, County Cork. [44268/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

The Office of Public Works is not aware of and does not accept that there was any structural damage to properties in the O’Neill Crowley Quay and Ashe Quay areas in Fermoy arising from the flood relief works carried out on the Blackwater River. No compensation claims have been submitted by property owners in this regard.

Catchment Flood Risk Assessment and Management Programme

Ceisteanna (117)

Charlie McConalogue

Ceist:

117. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform his plans to establish a national support mechanism for the maintenance of rivers and watercourses in order to ensure that flood relief works can be carried out in affected areas; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44275/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

The OPW is responsible for the maintenance of Arterial Drainage Schemes and catchment drainage schemes designated under the Arterial Drainage Acts of 1945 and 1995. The OPW carries out an annual programme, on an average five-yearly cycle, of statutory Arterial Drainage Maintenance to a total of 11,500 km of river channel and approximately 730 km of embankments nationally.

Drainage Districts are areas where drainage schemes to improve land for agricultural purposes were constructed under the Arterial Drainage Acts from 1842 up to 1943. Of the 293 schemes carried out, 170 remain covering 4,600 km (2,860 miles) of channel. The statutory duty of maintenance for 4,600 km of river channel benefitting from these schemes rests with the Local Authorities concerned.

These maintenance of watercourses are one element of a whole of Government approach to flood risk management across three strategic and policy areas: 

- Prevention e.g. avoiding construction in flood-prone areas,

- Protection e.g. taking feasible measures, both structural and non-structural, to protect areas against flooding, and

- Preparedness e.g. informing the public about dealing with flood risk and a flood.

The Interdepartmental Flood Policy Coordination Group, that I chair, coordinates and recommends policies and measures that could support individuals and communities to respond effectively to flood risks. Implementing the National Flood Risk Policy, launched with the Flood Risk Management Plans on 3 May, 2018, provides an update of progress by the Group’s implementation of the national flood risk policy. This report is available on www.floodinfo.ie.

The Catchment Flood Risk Assessment and Management (CFRAM) Programme was the largest ever flood risk study carried out in the State and covered 300 areas believed to be at significant flood risk. The CFRAM programme culminated with the launch on 3  May, 2018 of 29 flood risk management plans which propose 118 new outline flood relief works on top of the 42 major projects already completed and the 33 major schemes within the existing capital works programme of the OPW. All of these projects are to be funded under the Government's 10 year flood risk investment programme of almost €1 billion under the National Development Plan 2018 - 2027.  The key conclusion of the Plans is that 95% of properties assessed through CFRAM can be protected through continued investment in flood relief schemes.

Local flooding issues are a matter, in the first instance, for each local authority to investigate and address.  It is open to all local authorities to submit a funding application to the OPW under its Minor Flood Mitigation Works and Coastal Protection Scheme. The Scheme’s eligibility criteria, including a requirement that measures are cost beneficial, is published on the OPW website, www.opw.ie. The OPW consider each application in accordance with the scheme’s eligibility criteria and having regard to the overall availability of resources for flood risk management. Some 500 minor works projects have been delivered under the Scheme providing local flooding solutions to approximately 6,500 properties.

The Shannon Flood Risk State Agency Co-ordination Working Group, was established in 2016 and is chaired by the OPW.  The Group took a decision in October 2016 to trial the lowering of the lake levels on Lough Allen, within the existing statutory framework, during the Winter 2016/2017 to help mitigate potential flood risk. A protocol was finalised between ESB, Waterways Ireland and the OPW to lower the late Autumn and Winter minimum lake levels in Lough Allen by approximately 0.7 metres with the first reduction implemented in October 2016. The trial was repeated for the Winter 2017/2018 and is being repeated for this coming Winter. Planning for a strategic maintenance programme of the River Shannon is also bring advanced by the Group. 

The OPW will be publishing on http://flooding.ie/ guidance to landowners in relation to the maintenance of watercourses on or near their lands in the context of managing flood risk. This website is undergoing a review and it is expected that an updated website with some guidance will be available before the end of this year.

Public Procurement Regulations

Ceisteanna (118)

Barry Cowen

Ceist:

118. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the specific circumstances or criteria under which the Office of Government Procurement is used to advise on or implement a tendering process in Departments or State organisations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44295/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

Procurement is a key element of the Government’s Public Service Reform agenda and, given the volume of the State’s spend, it is essential that the Public Service operates in a co-ordinated and efficient way and delivers sustainable savings for the taxpayer.

The Office of Government Procurement (OGP) leads the reform programme and sets the overarching policy framework for public procurement in Ireland. 

The OGP together with four key sectors (Health, Defence, Education and Local Government) has responsibility for sourcing goods and services on behalf of the Public Service. 

The OGP has established a wide range of framework arrangements since it became operational in 2014. These arrangements are in accordance with EU Directives, national legislation and procurement best practice and support public bodies in delivering value for money and compliantly procuring goods and services to meet their needs.   

The OGP also supports public sector bodies with bespoke competitions on a case by case basis. Guidelines and template documentation are available on the OGP website.  Furthermore, the OGP proactively engages with Government Departments, public bodies and industry to assist, support and provide advice and guidance in relation to public procurement.

Public Procurement Regulations

Ceisteanna (119)

Barry Cowen

Ceist:

119. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if it is standard procedure as part of a tendering process for the State to pay the costs of tendering for a Government contract to a third party that is tendering for that contract; if there are Office of Government Procurement rules regarding such a practice; the rules in relation to same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44296/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

Public Procurement is governed by EU and National rules and guidelines. The aim of these rules is to promote an open, competitive and non-discriminatory public procurement regime which delivers best value for money. These rules do not prohibit a public body from providing some form of compensation to a supplier for the costs of tendering for a Government contract.  However, this approach would be taken only in exceptional circumstances for very complex or innovative procurement projects that would be costly for suppliers to prepare for.  It is not the standard procedure or common practice.

National Broadband Plan

Ceisteanna (120)

Barry Cowen

Ceist:

120. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if his Department has been involved either through the Office of Government Procurement or otherwise to date with the tendering process for the national broadband plan; if so, the details of such involvement; if his Department will be involved with the tendering process for the National Broadband Plan; if so, the details of that involvement; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44297/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

Officials in my Department with responsibility for the Vote of the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment have been appraised periodically by that Department of progress on the procurement process but have had no involvement or input in that process or any evaluation of same.

The Office of Government Procurement was represented in an advisory role on the Procurement Board for this project. The primary aim of this Board is to independently review the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment’s oversight of the evaluation stages of the procurement process but has no decision making role in the procurement process. This is a matter for the Department of Communications, Climate Action and the Environment.

Departmental Staff Data

Ceisteanna (121)

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

121. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the breakdown of staff in his Department by grade. [44360/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

The breakdown of staff by grade within the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, based on data of 30th September 2018, is set out in the following table:

Grade

FTE

Headcount

Secretary General

1

1

Chief Information Officer

1

1

Assistant Secretary/Director

7

7

Chief Medical Officer

1

1

Principal Officer

34.6

36

Assistant Principal

123.01

127

Administrative Officer

62.05

63

Higher Executive Officer

97.25

101

Executive Officer

46.7

49

Clerical Officer

35.5

38

Temporary Clerical Officer

1

1

Occupational Physician

3

3

Occupational Health Nurse

1.5

2

Intern

2

2

Totals

416.61

432

Civil Service Staff Data

Ceisteanna (122)

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

122. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the rules that apply to recruitment campaigns that are limited to existing civil or public servants in terms of when such campaigns may be used; the grades they apply to; the percentage of posts they may apply to; and the legislation upon which such a policy is based. [44373/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

As the Deputy will be aware, Government departments have been working under delegated sanction arrangements for their recruitment and staffing issues since 2015. Under these arrangements, there are multi-annual pay ceilings agreed and set and thereafter decisions about recruitment and promotion and overall grade composition up to and including Principal Officer level are devolved. 

In general selection competitions within the Irish Civil Service take place by way of;

- competitions confined to particular Departments (Internal promotion) or

- from competitions open to candidates from all Departments (Interdepartmental promotion) or

- from open competitions to all eligible candidates including members of the public

Candidates who are successful at a competition are ranked in order of merit and are placed on panels to await appointment when and if a vacancy arises. Recruitment and promotions are made on the basis of an agreed method of sequence. Within the civil service, sequences vary for each grade and usually involve a combination of open, interdepartmental and internal panels.  

Sequences for general service civil service grades are agreed under the Civil Service Conciliation and Arbitration Scheme and are as follows

grade

open

interdepartmental

internal

Clerical Officer

100%

nil

nil

Executive Officer

40%

30%

30%

Higher Executive Officer

nil

50%

50%

Administrative Officer

100%

nil

nil

Assistant Principal

33.3%

33.3%

33.3%

Principal Officer

66.6%

nil

33.3%

Sequences are monitored by my department on a quarterly basis.

Seirbhísí Oileán

Ceisteanna (123)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Ceist:

123. D'fhiafraigh Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív den Aire Caiteachais Phoiblí agus Athchóirithe cén dul chun cinn atá déanta ag Oifig na nOibreacha Poiblí chun áit páirceála shábháilte a chur ar fáil do rothair, carráistí capall agus busanna gar do láthair Dhún Aonghusa in Árainn; cad iad sonraí na gcomhráití a bhí ag an Oifig le Comhairle Contae na Gaillimhe leis na leas-sealbhóirí eile le trí mhí anuas; agus an ndéanfaidh sé ráiteas ina thaobh. [44387/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

Mar a tugadh le fios sa gceist parlaiminte níos luaithe, tá plean curtha le chéile ag Oifig na nOibreacha Poiblí chun sábháilteacht a fheabhsú ag an mbealach bóthair go dtí suíomh Séadchomhartha Náisiúnta Dún Aonghasa.

 Níl aon réiteach go fóill ar na saincheisteanna easaontais le páirtaithe leas-shealbhóirí áirithe. Cé go raibh comhráití leis an bpríomh úinéir talún, níl aon dul chun cinn déanta leis an togra.

Ta súil ag Oifig na nOibreacha Poiblí dul i dteagmháil le na leas-shealbhóirí go luath, le iarracht  a dhéanamh a theacht ar réiteach le go gcuirfí na hoibreacha riachtanach ar an mbóthar priomháideaach  san áireamh i bPlean Gnó 2019.

 Ní raibh aon chomhráití le gairid idir Oifig na nOibreacha Poiblí agus Comhairle Contae na Gaillimhe maidir leis an mbóthar poiblí chuig an suÍomh, mar go bhfuil sin taobh amuigh dá gcúram.

 

Departmental Expenditure

Ceisteanna (124)

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

124. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the expenditure ceilings for each Department in each of the years 2019 to 2024. [44424/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

Expenditure Report 2019 sets out gross voted current expenditure ceilings on a Ministerial level for the period 2019 - 2021. Building on the multi-annual ceilings published in the Mid-Year Expenditure Report 2018, these ceilings reflect the impact of Budget 2019 decisions, certain demographic pressures and the cost of pay agreements.  Expenditure ceilings beyond this period have not yet been agreed on a Ministerial level. The resources to be allocated for 2020 and 2021 will be allocated as part of the Budget 2020 and Budget 2021 processes to provide for new measures or for the carryover impact of Budget 2019 measures.

Gross Voted Current Expenditure 2019 - 2021

 

2019

2020

2021

 

€ million

€ million

€ million

Agriculture, Food and the Marine Group

1,341

1,341

1,341

Business, Enterprise & Innovation Group

330

330

330

Children and Youth Affairs Group

1,479

1,479

1,479

Communications, Climate Action & Environment Group

391

391

391

Culture, Heritage & the Gaeltacht Group

264

264

264

Defence Group

888

888

888

Education & Skills Group

9,822

9,876

9,922

Employment Affairs & Social Protection Group

20,484

20,744

21,004

Finance Group

481

481

481

Foreign Affairs Group

781

781

781

Health Group

16,360

16,497

16,645

Housing, Planning & Local Government Group

1,919

1,919

1,919

Justice Group

2,572

2,572

2,572

Public Expenditure and Reform Group

1,052

1,052

1,052

Rural & Community Development

152

152

152

Taoiseach

189

189

189

Transport, Tourism and Sport

755

755

755

Cumulative Cost of Public Service Stability Agreement

                 -

390

651

Resources to be Allocated 2020

                 -

606

606

Resources to be Allocated 2021

 

 

725

Total Gross Current Expenditure *

59,259

60,706

62,146

* Rounding affects totals.