Disability Allowance Payments

Ceisteanna (249)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

249. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection when the restoration of disability allowance will take place in the case of a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4913/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

I confirm that the above named person was in receipt of disability allowance (DA) from my department. In October 2018, the claim was reviewed by a Social Welfare Inspector (SWI). Following on from meetings held with the SWI on 13 November 2018 and 15 January 2019, the person concerned was advised that his claim would be suspended due to refusing to supply the requested documentation.

On receipt of the requested information from the person concerned his DA claim will be referred back to the SWI for further assessment.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Invalidity Pension Applications

Ceisteanna (250)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

250. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if an application for an invalidity pension will be expedited in the case of a person (detailed supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4917/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The gentleman referred to has been awarded invalidity pension with effect from 29 November 2018. Payment will issue to his nominated bank account on 07 February 2019. Any arrears due from 29 November 2018 to 06 February 2019 will issue as soon as possible. The gentleman in question was notified of this decision on 29 January 2019.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Carer's Benefit Applications

Ceisteanna (251)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

251. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection when an application for carer’s benefit in the case of a person (details supplied) will be approved; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4919/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

Carer's benefit (CARB) is a payment made to insured people who leave the workforce to care for a child or an adult in need of full-time care and attention. An increased payment can be made where full-time care is being provided to two people.

I confirm that my department received an application for CARB from the person concerned on the 10 January 2019.

The application is currently being processed and once completed, the person concerned will be notified directly of the outcome.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Illness Benefit Applications

Ceisteanna (252)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

252. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection further to Parliamentary Question No. 257 of 17 January 2019, if the case of a person (details supplied) will be further reviewed; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4922/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

Unfortunately, the position of the Illness Benefit application from the person concerned remains unchanged.

As previously advised the person concerned does not satisfy the PRSI contribution conditions necessary for payment of Illness Benefit.

In order to qualify for Illness Benefit a person must have a minimum of 104 total PRSI contributions paid. They also must have 39 weeks of PRSI contributions paid or credited in the relevant tax year, or 26 weeks of PRSI contributions paid in the relevant tax year, and 26 weeks of PRSI contributions paid in the tax year immediately before the relevant tax year.

The relevant tax year is the second-last complete tax year before the year in which the claim for Illness Benefit begins.

The person concerned had a total of 84 PRSI contributions paid, with 34 contributions paid in the relevant tax year (2016), meaning he does not satisfy either of the qualifying conditions for payment at this time.

If the person concerned believes he has further contributions that may not be on the department's records he should send evidence of this to the Department and his claim will be reviewed.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Jobseeker's Allowance Payments

Ceisteanna (253)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

253. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if a person (details supplied) is liable for the deduction of the total amount accruing from employment in payment of jobseeker's allowance; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4934/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

Jobseeker's Allowance (JA) is a means-tested payment made to people who are unemployed. In order to determine means, the person concerned provided payment details for one day's employment for the week in question. Based on this information, the means calculated exceeded the weekly entitlement therefore no JA was payable to the person concerned for that week.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Wind Energy Guidelines

Ceisteanna (254)

Peter Burke

Ceist:

254. Deputy Peter Burke asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the status of progress on the new wind turbine guidelines; when the guidelines will be published; the instructions he will provide regarding a matter (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4880/19]

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. 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.

Proposals for wind energy developments are subject to the statutory requirements of the Planning Acts, in the same manner as other proposed developments. Therefore, it is not intended to place a moratorium on applications for planning permission for wind farm developments as referred to pending the finalisation of the revisions to the 2006 Guidelines.

Legislative Measures

Ceisteanna (255)

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

255. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government when the maritime area and foreshore (amendment Bill) will be brought before Dáil Éireann; the key elements of the legislation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4704/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

The Maritime Area and Foreshore (Amendment) Bill has three main aims:

- to align the foreshore consent system with the planning system;

- to provide for a single Environmental Impact Assessment for projects; and

- to provide a coherent mechanism to facilitate and manage development in the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and on the continental shelf.

The Bill will provide that decisions on development consent for projects in the maritime area (comprising the foreshore, EEZ and continental shelf) should be made either by local authorities or An Bord Pleanála, depending on the location, size and scale of the development, and on whether EIA is required. My future role, as Minister, will be limited to managing the property aspects of developments on behalf of the State and I will have no role in the environmental assessment of projects. It is intended that Local Authorities will, in future, regulate routine activities such as beach horse racing without the need for foreshore consent. The opportunity is also being taken to update other aspects of the 1933 Foreshore Act including in relation to enforcement and emergency works provisions.

Considerable work has been undertaken to advance the drafting of the Bill, including through engagement with the Marine Coordination Group and a number of workshops and bilateral meetings with relevant policy Departments and the Office of the Attorney General throughout 2017 and 2018. In addition, a high level Marine Legislation Steering Group was established in 2018 to facilitate the development of marine legislation with cross-Departmental impacts.

Legal advice from the Office of the Attorney General on the draft text, received in November 2018, raised a number of complex matters currently being considered by the Marine Legislation Steering Group. Following the conclusion of this review, it is intended to revert to Government with options to progress the reform of marine consenting.

Housing Adaptation Grant Applications

The following deferred reply was received under Standing Order 42A

Ceisteanna (256, 257)

Richard Boyd Barrett

Ceist:

256. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if his attention has been drawn to whether councils sent incorrect guidelines relating to assessment for the housing adaptation grant for people with a disability scheme; the number of persons who could be affected across all local authorities; the amount potentially denied to applicants across all local authorities due to councils not applying the correct rules to means testing; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4803/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Richard Boyd Barrett

Ceist:

257. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the reason councils were issued incorrect guidelines relating to assessment for the housing adaptation grant for people with a disability scheme; the number of persons who could be affected by all local authorities; the estimated number that could have been denied by local authorities nationally due to councils not applying the correct rules on means testing; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4849/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 256 and 257 together.

The issues raised by the Deputy are being followed up and a reply will be forwarded in accordance with Standing Orders.

The following deferred reply was received under Standing Order 42A
The provisions of the Housing Adaptation Grants for Older People and People with a Disability living in private houses include a number of income disregards that apply to means testing, one of which applies to a relative who is caring full-time for the applicant. This and all other income disregards were correctly set out in the relevant application forms and guidelines for the grants since 2007, but when updated application forms and guidelines were issued in 2014, the income disregard for a relative caring full-time for the applicant, while included in the application form, was omitted from the guidelines.
Given that the application form sets out the disregards correctly, it would be expected that the majority of local authorities were correctly applying all income disregards and enquiries by my Department show that 24 of the 31 authorities were in fact doing so. The issue arising is therefore limited to the remaining 7 authorities, all of whom have commenced reviews to identify the number of applicants affected. 4 of the 7 authorities have completed their reviews and have identified 89 applicants that are due additional payments, varying from €290 to €4,500 generally, with one applicant due €6,750. It is estimated that a further 30 cases may be identified on completion of the review process in the other 3 authorities.
While the number of affected applicants is limited in terms of the approximately 14,700 housing adaptation grants issued over the 2014 to 2018 period, it is, of course, regrettable that any applicant has been affected. Accordingly, arrangements are being made in the local authorities concerned to reimburse affected applicants without delay.

Home Loan Scheme

Ceisteanna (258, 259)

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

258. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of open applications for the Rebuilding Ireland home loan by local authority area; the length of time applications have been open (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4896/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

259. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of open applications for the Rebuilding Ireland home loan that are with local authorities for processing and decision; the number of open applications that are with the Housing Agency for processing and decision; the breakdown by the time they have been with the local authority or Housing Agency; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4897/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 258 and 259 together.

My Department does not collect data in relation to the numbers of open applications for the Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan (RIHL) that are currently with local authorities. Data is collected by my Department on a quarterly basis from local authorities with regard to the overall number and value of (i) local authority loan approvals and (ii) local authority loan drawdowns. Information up to Q3 2018, including in relation to number and value of mortgage drawdowns, is available on the Department's website at the following link: www.housing.gov.ie/housing/statistics/house-prices-loans-and-profile-borrowers/local-authority-loan-activity, and this information is updated on a quarterly basis as additional data is compiled.

Regarding the timeframes in which applications are processed by local authorities, in October 2018 my Department requested initial data on the length of time taken for the processing of applications within each local authority area. This found that it takes an average time of circa seven weeks from submitting a completed application to a local authority to receiving approval under the scheme, which is in line with the expected timeframe of 6-8 weeks as set out on the RIHL website. Approvals are valid for six months to allow applicants time to source a property to purchase.

The Housing Agency provides a central support service which assesses loan applications that are made to the local authorities for the RIHL and makes recommendations to the authorities as to whether loans should be offered to applicants. The most recent data available from the Housing Agency with regards to its assessment process indicated that as of the end of December 2018, a total of 61 applications remained in process at that point. This is out of an overall total of 3,745 applications submitted to the Agency since the scheme commenced in February 2018.

Home Loan Scheme

Ceisteanna (260, 261)

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

260. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of persons working in the Housing Agency on applications for the Rebuilding Ireland home loan scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4898/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

261. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of persons working in each local authority on applications for the Rebuilding Ireland home loan scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4899/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 260 and 261 together.

The Housing Agency has indicated that it has four individuals working full time on applications for the Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan. The number assigned can be scaled up or down, depending on demand, to maintain a response time for returning recommendations to local authorities within 10-days.

My Department does not hold details of the number of staff assigned to individual areas of work in each local authority; this is a matter for each local authority Chief Executive.

Departmental Funding

Ceisteanna (262, 263)

Seán Sherlock

Ceist:

262. Deputy Sean Sherlock asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the conditions that have been placed on further funding to Cork City Council for a centre (details supplied). [4813/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

263. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht further to Parliamentary Question No. 668 of 13 November 2018, the position regarding the extra public funding for the project; if the extra €10 million is a grant or loan; if it is a loan, the terms and conditions attached; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4901/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Culture)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 262 and 263 together.

Officials in my Department wrote to the project promoters, Cork City Council, on the 21 December 2018 on the provision of additional public funding for the development of the Cork Event Centre project. Following detailed consideration and in light of the additional works which are now required for the Centre, public procurement rules and legal advice indicate that total public funding for the project could be increased by up to €10 million to €30 million comprised of grant aid of €21 million and a repayable loan of €9 million. Discussions are ongoing with Cork City Council as to how this funding could be allocated.

Capital grants of this type from my Department are managed and paid under a Service Level Agreement which sets out the terms and conditions to be met by the project promoter, in this case Cork City Council.