Rural Social Scheme Eligibility

Ceisteanna (287)

Eamon Scanlon

Ceist:

287. Deputy Eamon Scanlon asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the way in which means is assessed for the purpose of the rural social scheme; the changes in recent times to in the way in which means is assessed; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [3616/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The rural social scheme (RSS) provides opportunities for farmers and fishermen / women who are currently in receipt of specified social welfare payments to work to provide certain services of benefit to rural communities. Communities benefit from the skills and talents of local farmers and fishermen and participants have the opportunity to improve existing skills, or develop new skills, while performing this valuable work in their local communities.

As the RSS is a supplementary income support scheme designed specifically for those whose income falls below a certain limit, an individual must continue to satisfy the qualifying criteria for the scheme to be eligible to participate on the RSS.

If a participant’s circumstances change, a means test is undertaken to determine their new rate of payment. The means assessment for RSS includes income that the participant and their spouse, civil partner or cohabitant has in addition to any capital or property (except their own home). Payment of RSS is not taken into account when assessing the weekly means. If changes were made to the conditions to allow all participants receive the full rate of payment regardless of their means, it would in effect change the nature of the scheme of supporting farmers and farm families with low incomes.

The rate paid to a participant on the RSS is equivalent to the participants underlying social welfare payment plus a top-up of €22.50 subject to a minimum payment of €220.50. RSS participants in receipt of a widow’s pension or disability allowance retain their payment and also receive a top-up payment which will bring the minimum weekly payment equal to €220.50.

As part of the recent Social Welfare Budget package for 2019, I increased the weekly personal rate for participants by €5.00 with proportionate increases in weekly payments for qualified adult dependants with effect from March 2019.

Disability Allowance Payments

Ceisteanna (288)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

288. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection when a disability allowance payment will issue to a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [3652/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The person concerned submitted an application for disability allowance (DA) on 6 June 2018. Their application was refused on habitual residency grounds as he was not found to be habitually resident in the state. The person concerned was notified in writing of this decision on 31 August 2018.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Illness Benefit Payments

Ceisteanna (289)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

289. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection when missing weeks of illness benefit payment due before Christmas 2018 will issue in the case of a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [3655/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

Medical Certificates for the person concerned were not received until January 2019 and this caused a delay in her Illness Benefit  payments for December. The Department can only pay for periods in which a person is medically certified as unfit for work.

The Department received the medical certificate from the person concerned for the period of 2nd December 2018 - 10th December 2018 on the 10th January 2019. The Department received her certificate for the 10th December 2018 - 17th December 2018 on the 17th January 2019.

She has been fully paid up to the 17th December 2018, which is the date of the most recently received medical certificate. Weekly medical certificates should be submitted as soon as possible after receipt from the certifier.

If the person concerned remains ill and unfit for work, a further medical certificate should be submitted to the Department in order for further payments to issue.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the deputy.

Carer's Allowance Payments

Ceisteanna (290)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

290. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection when a carer’s allowance payment will issue to a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [3656/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

Carer's allowance (CA) is a means-tested social assistance payment made to a person who is habitually resident in the State and who is providing full-time care and attention to a child or an adult who has such a disability that as a result they require that level of care.

An application for CA was received from the person concerned on 13 November 2018.

The application was awarded to the person concerned on 21 January 2019, first payment will issue to his nominated post office on 31 January 2019.

Arrears of allowance due from 15 November 2018 to 30 January 2019 have also issued.

The person concerned was notified on 21 January 2019 of this decision, the reason for it and of his right of review and appeal.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Disability Allowance Eligibility

Ceisteanna (291)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

291. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if her attention has been drawn to the fact that a person (details supplied) suffers from a multiplicity of medical conditions complicated by homelessness and regular attendance at hospital and continuous medications which renders the person incapable of work and that encouragement for the person to seek employment would make matters worse; if the case for disability allowance will be examined; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [3661/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

Disability Allowance is a weekly allowance paid to people with a specified disability who are aged over 16 and under 66. The disability must be expected to last for at least on year and the allowance is subject to a medical assessment, a means test and a habitual residency test.

A decision as to whether or not a person is eligible to receive a DA payment can only be considered on receipt of a completed application form for that payment. To date no application for DA has been received from the person concerned.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Rent Supplement Scheme Expenditure

Ceisteanna (292)

Noel Grealish

Ceist:

292. Deputy Noel Grealish asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the cost of the provision of rent supplement schemes in 2016 to 2018; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [3682/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

Rent supplement continues its vital role in housing families and individuals, with the scheme supporting approximately 24,300 recipients for which the Government has provided €132.4 million for 2019.

End of year statistics for rent supplement recipients and expenditure for the years 2016 to 2018 are provided in the following tabular statement.

The strategic goal of returning rent supplement to its original purpose; that of a short-term income support, has been primarily facilitated by the introduction of the HAP. The “Rebuilding Ireland - Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness (July 2016), reiterated in the “Housing First National Implementation Plan 2018-2021” (September 2018), is to provide 87,000 flexible housing supports through the HAP and Rental Accommodation Scheme between 2016 and 2021. As part of this commitment will be the transfer of those out of rent supplement with long term housing needs to HAP with a targeted completion date of these transfers by the end of 2020.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Tabular Statement:

Rent Supplement: Recipient Numbers & Expenditure 2016 - 2018

Year

Recipients

Cost €000

2016

48,041

275,294

2017

34,378

230,566

2018

24,303

179,500 

Wind Energy Guidelines

Ceisteanna (293)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

293. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the position in regard to regulations appertaining to setback limits in respect of wind farms; when this is likely to change; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3672/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

My Department is currently undertaking a focused review of the 2006 Wind Energy Development Guidelines. The review is addressing a number of key aspects including sound or noise, visual amenity setback distances, shadow flicker, community obligation, community dividend and grid connections. As part of the overall review, a strategic environmental assessment (SEA) is being undertaken on the revised Guidelines before they come into effect, in accordance with the requirements of EU Directive 2001/24/EC on the assessment of the effects of certain plans and programmes on the environment, otherwise known as the SEA Directive.

SEA is a process by which environmental considerations are required to be fully integrated into the preparation of plans and programmes which act as frameworks for development consent, prior to their final adoption, with public consultation as part of that process. Following a tendering process, my Department appointed SEA experts in December 2017 to assist in this regard. It is expected that a public consultation on the revised draft Guidelines, together with the comprehensive environmental report under the SEA process, will be commenced later in Q1 2019, with the aim of issuing the finalised Guidelines, following detailed analysis and consideration of the submissions and views received during the consultation phase, in mid 2019.

When finalised, the revised Guidelines will be issued under Section 28 of the Planning and Development Act 2000, as amended. Planning authorities and, where applicable, An Bord Pleanála must have regard to guidelines issued under Section 28 in the performance of their functions generally under the Planning Acts. In the meantime, the current 2006 Wind Energy Development Guidelines remain in force.

Urban Development

Ceisteanna (294)

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

294. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if he has considered setting up a north inner city development authority to address the root causes of problems and champion social and economic regeneration of the area; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3449/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

I have no proposals to set up a North Inner City Development Authority, especially given that the establishment of such an agency would likely replicate the work and objectives of the existing North East Inner City Implementation Board, which was established in June 2017 to oversee the implementation of a community-led programme of social and economic renewal in the area.

The establishment of the Implementation Board emanated from a recommendation in the Mulvey Report - Dublin's North East Inner City: Creating a Brighter Future - which was published in February 2017, following a request by the then Taoiseach to report on the profound challenges facing the communities of North East Inner City Dublin, and to recommend specific measures which would support the long-term economic and social regeneration of the area.

In this regard, the Mulvey Report identified a number of priority actions and proposed that the required social and economic regeneration should be overseen by an Implementation Board comprising an independent executive chair appointed by the Taoiseach and representatives from a broad range of statutory bodies and the local community. The Implementation Board is supported by a Programme Office with a multi-disciplinary team which oversees a range of community engagement and funding initiatives across a number of priority regeneration themes. I am satisfied that these arrangements are working effectively.

Local Authority Housing

Ceisteanna (295)

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

295. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government his plans to accelerate the delivery of affordable, cost rental, social and or co-op built housing on all state-owned land in Dublin city; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3451/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

The development of residential land in local authority ownership is in the first instance a matter for the individual authority concerned, including its elected members. My Department has been working closely with all local authorities to ensure that new social and affordable homes are delivered from the public land bank, including that of Dublin City Council, with particular emphasis on prioritising those sites with the greatest potential to deliver housing at scale, in the short to medium term.

All local authorities are being funded to significantly increase their delivery of social housing as part of the Rebuilding Ireland programme and a strong social housing construction pipeline is already in place for local authorities and approved housing bodies. Some 2,586 social housing homes in the Dublin City Council area are either completed or are currently progressing through the various stages of the project life-cycle. Further projects will continue to be added to the pipeline on an ongoing basis.

A detailed breakdown of the social housing construction programme, including that of Dublin City Council, is set out in the Social Housing Construction Status Report which is published on a quarterly basis. The report covering the period up to end Quarter 3 2018 is available on the Rebuilding Ireland website at the following link: http://rebuildingireland.ie/news/minister-murphy-publishes-quarter-3-social-housing-construction-report/. The report for Q4 2018 is currently being prepared.

In terms of affordable housing, a targeted approach is being pursued to support local authorities. To this end, I have provided additional funding for enabling infrastructure via the Serviced Sites Fund. Under Budget 2019, a total of €310 million will be provided for this purpose over the course of 2019 to 2021. I approved the first tranche of funding under the Fund on 11 December 2018, through which some €43 million in funding is being provided to facilitate the delivery of some 1,400 affordable homes. Details of the Dublin City Council SSF projects are listed in the following table.

 Local Authority

Project/Location

Total   Provisional Cost of Proposal

Provisional

Exchequer Grant Amount

Provisional

Local Authority Contribution

Affordable Housing Potential

Dublin

City

Cherry

Orchard

€7,645,415

 €6,804,419

 €840,996

 183

Dublin

City

Balbutcher,

Ballymun

€4,135,351

 €3,680,462

 €454,889

 74

Dublin

City

Sillogue,

Ballymun

€3,975,000

 €3,537,750

 €437,250

 83

 Total

-

 €15,755,766

 €14,022,631

 €1,733,135

 340

The combination of this Fund and the significantly increased funding for the social housing programme will open up more opportunities for larger mixed-tenure developments. My Department will continue to engage proactively with the City Council to accelerate the delivery of these projects, in particular on such key sites as O’Devaney Gardens and Oscar Traynor Road, which combined will deliver over 1,200 homes.

As regards other public sites in Dublin that are not in the ownership of local authorities, the Land Development Agency (LDA) is in the process of advancing agreements with various State bodies, including the Housing Agency, the Office of Public Works, and the HSE, which are participating in the first tranche of land agreements in the Dublin region, and is keen to work in partnership and co-operation with local authorities. A detailed business plan for the LDA is currently in development and will provide additional information on its delivery programme.

Acknowledging that renters in Dublin are currently facing significant access and affordability challenges, the Government is committed to the introduction of a not-for-profit, cost rental sector in Ireland. Together with delivering more affordable and predictable rents, cost rental will make a sustainable impact on national competitiveness and the attractiveness of our main urban centres as places to live and work.

A significant early mover project is being advanced by Dublin City Council, which will deliver important lessons in terms of cost rental in an Irish setting, at Emmet Road, Inchicore. While the final tenure-mix on the site will be decided by Dublin City Council, to be informed by the detailed site development process, it will likely include 140 social housing homes, with the remaining 330 homes predominantly provided by the City Council under cost rental arrangements. My Department is also engaging with the National Development Finance Agency, the European Investment Bank and the LDA to examine the optimum funding and delivery options to support cost rental delivery at scale in Dublin and other urban areas.

Finally the approved housing body sector includes a number of housing co-operatives whose objectives are to provide social and affordable housing. These bodies are supported through a range of schemes for both social and affordable housing which are funded by the State through the local authorities. In addition, some local authorities facilitated housing developments through supporting co-operatives to deliver housing under the low cost sites scheme. With the introduction of a new affordable purchase housing scheme and cost rental, supported by the Serviced Sites Fund, there will be further opportunities for approved housing bodies, including co-operatives, to provide affordable housing.

Local Authority Housing Maintenance

Ceisteanna (296)

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

296. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government his plans and the timeline for funding and delivering a refurbishment programme for flat complexes in Dublin city centre to tackle in particular dampness and to provide for insulation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3452/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

It is very important that local authority housing stock is maintained to an appropriate standard. Under the Housing Acts, such management and maintenance, is, in the first instance, a matter for each individual local authority. In order to support local authorities in this work my Department provides exchequer funding for eligible capital improvements to local authority housing, including through the voids and energy efficiency programmes.

Furthermore, over the lifetime of Rebuilding Ireland, some €211 million is being made available under the National Regeneration Programme to support the direct delivery of over 1,000 new social housing homes. Together with providing a significant number of new homes, the projects seek to also address the causes of disadvantage in these communities through a holistic programme of physical, social and economic regeneration.

I understand that Dublin City Council is currently carrying out a stock condition audit which is expected to be completed later in Q1 2019. Arising from this audit, DCC plan to strategically determine and prioritise the optimum approach to the redevelopment or refurbishment of its apartment portfolio.

In order to ensure that progress is made as quickly as possible, notwithstanding the overall strategic approach being adopted by the City Council, in the meantime it has submitted detailed proposals on the following major schemes: Dorset Street; Constitution Hill; Dunne Street; Matt Talbot Court; Lissadel Road/Rafter’s Lane; Cromcastle Court; Infirmary Road; and Croke Villas/Sackville Avenue.

In addition, my Department provided Exchequer funding to the City Council towards the recently completed phase 1 of the regeneration of Dolphin House, delivering 100 high quality social housing homes, and contractors are on-site in St Theresa’s Gardens, Dominick Street and O'Devaney Gardens.