Cycling Policy

Ceisteanna (184)

Catherine Martin

Ceist:

184. Deputy Catherine Martin asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he has met with councillors (details supplied) to discuss the issue of cycling safety and infrastructure; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5831/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

On 24 July 2018 I issued a full and comprehensive reply to Dublin City Council regarding cycling investment and cycling projects in the City following on from a Motion passed by the Council at its meeting on 14 May 2018. Notwithstanding the reply, Dublin City Council wish to have a meeting with me to discuss the issue raised in the Motion which I will consider in due course.

Rail Network Expansion

Ceisteanna (185)

Imelda Munster

Ceist:

185. Deputy Imelda Munster asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his plans regarding extension of the short hop zone to Drogheda, County Louth, on the northern railway line in view of the fact that the National Development Plan 2018 to 2027 investment in the DART expansion programme has made provision for extending the metropolitan DART network for the greater Dublin area as far as Drogheda; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5836/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

As Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, I have responsibility for policy and overall funding in relation to public transport. The National Transport Authority (NTA) has statutory responsibility for the regulation of fares in relation to public passenger transport services. I have, therefore, referred the Deputy's question to the NTA for direct reply. Please advise my private office if you do not receive a reply within ten working days.

Public Transport Provision

Ceisteanna (186)

Thomas Byrne

Ceist:

186. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if an application to the NTA by an organisation (details supplied) will be approved. [5878/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

As Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport I have responsibility for policy and overall funding in relation to public transport.

The National Transport Authority (NTA) has statutory responsibility for securing the provision of public passenger transport services nationally. It also has national responsibility for integrated local and rural transport, including management of the Rural Transport Programme which now operates under the Local Link brand.

In light of the NTA's responsibilities in this matter, I have referred the Deputy's question to the NTA for direct reply. Please advise my private office if you do not receive a reply within 10 working days.

Driver Test

Ceisteanna (187)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

187. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if a driver test will be expedited in the case of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5912/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

The driving test service is run by the Road Safety Authority (RSA) and my Department has no input into the scheduling of appointments. I have referred the question to the Authority for direct reply. I would ask the Deputy to contact my office if a response is not received within 10 days.

Railway Stations

Ceisteanna (188)

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

188. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the position regarding a train station (details supplied) in County Dublin; if Irish Rail plans to close this station; if so, the reason therefore; the reason no advance notice has been given to train users; the facilities which will be made available to train users using the station if it is closed; if safety concerns and the needs of older persons and persons with special needs has been taken into account; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5969/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

The issue raised is a matter for Iarnród Éireann and I have forwarded the Deputy's question to the company for direct reply. Please advise my private office if you do not receive a response within ten working days.

Detention Centres Staff

Ceisteanna (189)

Clare Daly

Ceist:

189. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the number of assaults on staff recorded at Oberstown Children Detention Campus in 2018; and the number of those assaults classified as serious assaults. [5837/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

Oberstown Children Detention Campus has advised me that in 2018, there were 25 incidents related to assaults on staff. 18 of the 25 incidents resulted in no days lost from work and 7 of the 25 incidents resulted in lost days from work. While serious assault is not defined by Oberstown, I am advised that the 7 incidents resulting in lost days from work could be considered as serious assaults.

Detention Centres Staff

Ceisteanna (190)

Clare Daly

Ceist:

190. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the number of times staff members at Oberstown Children Detention Campus were threatened with weapons in each month of 2018. [5838/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

Oberstown Children Detention Campus has advised me that in 2018, there were 103 incidents of injuries to staff. Staff members were threatened with a weapon in 6 of these incident as outlined in the following table:

Jan

Feb

March

April

May

June

July

Aug

Sept

Oct

Nov

Dec

0

0

0

1

0

0

2

0

0

2

0

1

Detention Centres Staff

Ceisteanna (191)

Clare Daly

Ceist:

191. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the number of staff at Oberstown Children Detention Campus on sick leave at the end 2018. [5839/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

Oberstown Children Detention Campus has advised me that at 31 December 2018, there were 24 staff members on sick leave, 2 of whom were on sick leave related to an injury.

Childcare Costs

Ceisteanna (192)

Seán Haughey

Ceist:

192. Deputy Seán Haughey asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the measures she is taking to reduce the cost of childcare, particularly in the Dublin area; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5840/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

In recent years, I have secured significantly increased investment in key early learning and care (ELC) and school age childcare (SAC) areas. The measures announced as part of Budget 2018 formed part of a trend in continued growth in early years investment.

The increase in supports I announced in April 2017 represented a major step towards accessible, affordable and quality ELC and SAC after decades of neglect and under-investment by successive Governments. These increases reflect my ambition to support quality ELC and SAC services with appropriately supported staff.

These increases were considerable, up to 50% in the targeted subsidies, which significantly decreases the amount of payment required of low income families or parents in education or training.

As part of the Government policy to make ELC and SAC more affordable, I introduced a universal childcare subvention payment, in September 2017, of up to €20 per week (up to €1,040 per annum) for families using eligible ELC providers for the care of children aged from 6 months to the first eligible point of entry of the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) programme.

These changes are waypoints towards our goal to deliver genuine affordable, accessible, quality ELC and SAC. My Department is also progressing with the wider Affordable Childcare Scheme (ACS) Project.

The ACS is a radical new approach to how we deliver accessible, affordable, high quality ELC and SAC to families in Ireland. The scheme will open to applications in October 2019, with payments flowing from November 2019. Its launch will mark a milestone in our quest to transform Ireland's ELC and SAC system from one of the most expensive in the world into one of the best.When introduced, it will represent a major landmark for all children and families in Ireland, and especially for lower income families and lone parents. It may be accessed by all families and not just those working or studying full time. International reports have stated that ACS will significantly address affordability for lower income families and, for example, Ireland will change from being the most expensive country in the OECD for ELC and SAC for lone parents, to 11th position. In the last 4 years, the DCYA has increased funding for ELC and SAC by 117%. This has doubled the number of children accessing subsidies.Under the ACS, all families with a net annual income of up to €60,000 will be able to claim income-based subsidies, an increase of 26% to the original threshold. The scheme’s lower income thresholds have also been adjusted, meaning that maximum subsidy rates will now be paid to all families with a net annual income of up to €26,000 (the previous proposed threshold stood at €22,700). The increase in the lower threshold is important in terms of benefitting the people at the lower end of the income spectrum, by ‘poverty proofing’ the scheme by ensuring that families at or below the relative income poverty line will benefit from the very highest subsidy rates under the scheme. For those above the net income threshold of €60,000, but with a child under 3 in regulated childcare, the scheme will continue to make up to €1,040 per annum available. These increased thresholds will mean that thousands more families will benefit from the new Affordable Childcare Scheme once launched at the end of 2019 and will see their childcare costs tangibly reduce.

The recently launched Whole of Government Strategy for Babies, Young Children and their Families, First 5, identifies an action to develop and introduce a new funding model for early learning and care to support improved quality of provision, whilst also improving affordability for parents.

As part of the development of a new funding model for Early Learning and Care, mechanisms to control fees charged to parents will be explored.

This new approach will complement the Affordable Childcare Scheme, launching in October 2019, to subsidise the cost of provision for parents and the universal pre-school programme (ECCE) which provides for a fully funded provision for 15 hours per week for children in the two years before they begin primary school.

Early Childhood Care and Education

Ceisteanna (193)

Peadar Tóibín

Ceist:

193. Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if she will address a matter (details supplied) regarding an additional pre-school year for a child. [5895/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

It should be noted that the Early Childhood Care and Education programme (ECCE) is a two year pre-school programme. There is no routine provision for a third year which may not be in the best interests of a child and may lead to breaching the statutory school starting age.

Overage exemptions were introduced at the onset of the ECCE programme in 2010. At that time ECCE operated for a 38 week period, or one programme year. For some children with special/additional needs, attending preschool five days a week was not feasible so, therefore, an allowance was made. Their ECCE place was split over two years, e.g. a child may have availed of three days ECCE provision in year one and two days in year two. In order to facilitate this, in the cases where the child would have been overage for ECCE in the latter year, an overage exemption was granted.

It is important to note that this provision of an overage exemption by my Department for the ECCE programme was never intended as a mechanism to delay a child’s entry to primary education or to address any issue of non-availability of a school place. In the past, the operation of the system of overage exemption has caused confusion where some parents and providers have incorrectly believed that an overage exemption approval from the DCYA represented a derogation from age requirements attaching to the statutory requirement that a child attend primary school before the age of 6 years.

The overage exemption process has recently been the subject of a consultation process and a report was produced by the National Disability Authority (NDA). Officials from my Department are now considering policy options following on from this report. The new policy will consider the future of the system of exemptions and how best to support parents and children in the important transition from pre-school to primary school. It is worth stressing that the only rationale underpinning these considerations is what is in the best interests of the child. There are no funding or other considerations whatsoever. I would also note that research shows broad agreement that it is in the best interest of the child to start school with their peers.

As regards the specific case you have raised, I would stress that each application for an exemption is considered on its own merits and never in the context of the outcome of any other case.

In this instance, the application was declined on the basis that the full two year ECCE entitlement had already been availed of and with regard to the fact that the child named would be over age 6 years starting school. A key finding of the NDA report, which will be published in the near future, is that generally it is in children's best interest to enrol in primary school with their peers and to transition to becoming a teenager with their peers.

The report also seeks to ensure that schools offer all the assistance necessary to meet the child's needs, with the assistance of the National Council for Special Education (NCSE). We will be happy to assist the family, if requested, to make contact with the NCSE to ensure that adequate preparations are in place for the child to start school in September 2019. The family should make immediate contact with their local school to make sure it has appropriate arrangements in place to support this child from September 2019.

Departmental Programmes

Ceisteanna (194)

Fiona O'Loughlin

Ceist:

194. Deputy Fiona O'Loughlin asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the extent to which the various programmes operated by his Department can be accessed by community and rural groups throughout north County Kildare; the extent to which applications have been facilitated in this regard; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5906/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Rural)

My Department funds a range of programmes and schemes that provide financial assistance and other supports to eligible community and rural groups throughout the country, including in north Kildare. These schemes provide much needed funding, support and assistance to communities at local level.

These include the LEADER programmes; the Community Enhancement Programme, the Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Scheme; the Social Inclusion and Community Activation Programme (SICAP); the Town and Village Renewal Scheme; and the Community Services Programme.

All schemes delivered by my Department are open to applications from eligible parties during the relevant application timeframes set for each scheme/programme.

Full details of how to register or apply for assistance under these schemes and any eligibility criteria associated with each scheme, can be obtained online at my Department's website. This online information contains more details on all various funding programmes and schemes administered through my Department.

Local Improvement Scheme Funding

Ceisteanna (195)

Fiona O'Loughlin

Ceist:

195. Deputy Fiona O'Loughlin asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development when he plans to make an allocation for the local improvement scheme for 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5907/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Rural)

The Local Improvement Scheme, or LIS, is a programme for improvement works on small private or non-public roads in rural areas. As the Deputy may be aware, there was no dedicated funding for this scheme for a number of years due to constraints on public expenditure. However, I was very conscious of the underlying demand for the scheme in rural areas throughout the country and I reintroduced the LIS in September 2017 and allocated a total of €17.4 million to Local Authorities for LIS roads that year.

In 2018, I allocated almost €21 million for LIS roads in two phases.

It is clear that there is a continuing demand for LIS funding in rural communities across Ireland, and I have therefore secured an allocation of €10 million for the scheme in my Department's Vote for 2019. Details regarding the 2019 Local Improvement Scheme will be available shortly.

JobPath Programme

Ceisteanna (196)

John Brady

Ceist:

196. Deputy John Brady asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if funding for the safe pass is provided for under the JobPath scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5784/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

Jobseekers engaged with the JobPath service receive intensive individual support to help overcome barriers to employment and to find jobs. Each person is assigned a personal advisor who assesses their skills, experience, challenges and work goals and agrees a personal progression plan (PPP) that includes a schedule of activities, including relevant training and educational programmes to assist them in finding full-time sustainable employment. There are no barriers to any participants pursuing training, provided they are relevant to the agreed personal progression plan.

The JobPath providers arrange for the delivery of a broad range of education and training courses with a particular and strong focus on upskilling the long term unemployed. Both JobPath providers have their own discretionary funds available to pay for these training courses (including Safe Pass ). Some of these courses are provided in-house while others are provided by external specialist training providers.

I trust this clarifies matters for the Deputy.

Pensions Data

Ceisteanna (197, 198)

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

197. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection her plans to introduce a pension traceability system to ensure that on retirement persons are able to benefit from different pension schemes they paid into over the course of their working life; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5790/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

198. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the estimated amount of private pension funds that remain unclaimed for a variety of reasons (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5791/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 197 and 198 together.

My Department has arrangements in place to assist with member tracing. Where the administrator of a pension scheme or a life company is unable to trace a member using their own resources they can use my Department’s host mailing service. Following discussions between my Department, the Pensions Authority and the Irish Association of Pension Funds, a revised protocol was put in place in October 2013. The protocol sets out the Department’s requirements for organisations using the host mailing service. The pension provider must have made an unsuccessful attempt to contact the scheme member. The Department will forward letters to the last known address of the member based on its records if this address differs from that which the pension provider has.

From 2013 (relating to the 2012 tax year), P35 returns from employers are collecting the Pensions Authority reference number of any scheme operated by the employer to which the employees contribute. The collection of this data will, in time, facilitate a linkage of an employee’s PPSN with the reference number(s) of the scheme of which they were a member.

There is currently no tracking service in Ireland that will allow deferred scheme members to trace their pension entitlements. Such a system is likely to be costly to establish. My Department’s meetings with industry have indicated that in many cases they can find owners of funds through their own searches or by utilising the Department’s host mailing system. As such, they may be reluctant to take on the costs of providing information and maintaining data in a tracking service at this stage.

My Department does not collect data on the value of unclaimed private pension funds.

I hope that this clarifies matters for the Deputy.

Rent Supplement Scheme Payments

Ceisteanna (199)

Brendan Griffin

Ceist:

199. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if rent supplement is being issued to recipients at a location (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5792/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

Rent supplement continues its vital role in housing families and individuals, with the scheme supporting approximately 23,300 recipients for which the Government has provided €132.4 million for 2019.

The Department can confirm that rent allowance is being paid to a number of residents, in appropriate accommodation, in the Seaside Caravan Park, Camp. In the case of private rented accommodation, tenancy arrangements involve a contract between the landlord and the tenant. The Department has no contractual relationship with the landlord and tenant behaviour is a matter for the landlord in the first instance. There are a number of avenues open to landlords in such cases, including the mediation service for landlords and tenants operated by the Private Residential Tenancies Board and/or recourse to the Garda Síochána and/or the Courts in relation to the enforcement of the law in dealing with anti-social or criminal behaviour.

Under the Residential Tenancies Act 2004 tenants are obliged not to behave within a dwelling, or in the vicinity of it, in a way that is anti-social. Landlords are obliged to enforce the tenant’s obligations, and may seek termination of a tenancy due to a tenant’s antisocial behaviour.

The Social Welfare Consolidation Act 2005 provides the Department with the authority to refuse, suspend or terminate payment of a rent supplement in the case of a person who has been required to deliver up possession of a dwelling provided by a housing authority or an approved body where the reasons for that requirement include anti-social behaviour or the interests of good estate management.

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. For 2019, HAP’s transfer activity is expected to yield a closing rent supplement base of approximately 15,000 rent supplement customers at year end.

I trust this clarifies the matter.

Invalidity Pension Applications

Ceisteanna (200)

Seán Sherlock

Ceist:

200. Deputy Sean Sherlock asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if an application for an invalidity pension by a person (details supplied) will be updated. [5816/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The lady referred to has been awarded invalidity pension with effect from 06 December 2018. Payment will issue to her nominated bank account on 21 February 2019. Arrears due from 06 December 2018 to 20 February 2019 (less any overlapping social welfare payment) will issue as soon as possible. The lady in question was notified of this decision on 04 February 2019.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Back to Education Allowance Eligibility

Ceisteanna (201)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

201. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the reason an application for a back to education allowance was refused in the case of a person (details supplied); if the case will be reviewed with a view to granting the application; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5882/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The person concerned made an application for the Back to Education Allowance (BTE) which was refused by a Deciding Officer based on the recommendations of a Case Officer. The reasons for refusal were detailed in a letter which was issued to the person concerned on 2nd October 2018.

The person concerned had this decision reviewed by another officer in the Intreo Centre. The outcome of the review established no grounds to change the recommendation. As the person concerned is a full-time student and doesn't satisfy the criteria to receive a Jobseekers payment, the claim was closed on the 16th October 2018 and no further payments issued.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Domiciliary Care Allowance Eligibility

Ceisteanna (202)

Stephen Donnelly

Ceist:

202. Deputy Stephen S. Donnelly asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if consideration will be given to change the rules or providing another payment that would apply when a child is still in hospital regarding the domiciliary care allowance when granted in cases of sick children in hospital and the current stipulation that the payment can only commence once the child has been discharged home (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5898/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

Domiciliary Care Allowance (DCA) is an allowance payable in respect of children with a severe disability, who require care and attention substantially in excess of that required by other children their age without their disability. It is payable on the basis that the child is receiving the additional care in their own home. As a result, DCA is not payable while the child is resident in a hospital.

Children who meet the qualifying conditions for the scheme, in regard to having a disability and requiring substantial extra care, can have their application approved, with payment commencing when they leave hospital and return home.

Any parent experiencing difficulty meeting the additional expense arising from having a child in hospital may qualify for a payment under the Departments means tested exceptional needs payment scheme. In such circumstances the parent should contact their local Intreo centre.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Social and Affordable Housing

Ceisteanna (203)

Eoin Ó Broin

Ceist:

203. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government when the regulations for the new affordable housing scheme will be enacted; and the way in which the scheme will work. [5781/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

The relevant provisions of Part 5 of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 2009 have been commenced.  It provides a statutory basis for the delivery of affordable housing for purchase by local authorities. Part 5 contains significant detail on the procedures and operation of the new Affordable Purchase Scheme.

The primary legislation will be supported by associated regulations, which are currently at the final legal drafting stage, following extensive consultation between my Department, the Housing Agency and local authorities. The regulations, once finalised shortly, together with guidance, will be issued to local authorities.  

The Scheme is based on local authorities providing, directly or indirectly, below market price housing. The local authority takes a charge against the property equal to the discount provided. The Act provides for a charge up to a maximum of 40% of the market value. The charge is fully repayable at re-sale or at the end of the charge period. Repayments will be paid into a centralised Affordable Housing Fund which will administered by the Housing Finance Agency.

Housing Regeneration

Ceisteanna (204)

Eoin Ó Broin

Ceist:

204. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the full costs of a project (details supplied) in Dublin 22; and his plans for the future of the scheme. [5817/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

The Abhaile Project was the winner of the Rebuilding Ireland Homes for Smart Ageing Universal Design Challenge in June 2017. It involved the development of an innovative new model to support older homeowners to reconfigure their family-sized homes by creating an independent living area suitable for the older homeowner, eliminating the need to use the stairs, and creating a rental home upstairs. The application of the model to individual properties, and the associated costs, are a matter for the project promoters/homeowners concerned.

My Department, in conjunction with the Department of Health, will launch the ‘Housing Options for Our Ageing Population’ policy statement shortly. The policy statement will be informed by the key objectives underpinning it as expressed in the Programme for a Partnership Government  and Pillar 2 of Rebuilding Ireland Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness. As part of this policy the potential of targeted schemes, including those of a similar type to the Abhaile project, to meet differing housing needs will be examined.

Departmental Websites

Ceisteanna (205)

Jan O'Sullivan

Ceist:

205. Deputy Jan O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government his plans to publish circulars issued on the website circulars.gov.ie; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5828/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

I understand that the circulars.gov.ie  website was established in 2011 by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (DPER), primarily to house circulars issued by that Department and by the Department of Finance.  Over time, other Departments have requested access to upload certain circulars to the website.

My Department already uses a variety of media to support the dissemination of circulars, including emailing directly to relevant contacts and posting to the Department's website.  In relation to the local government sector and state bodies under the aegis of my Department, an extranet facility known as 'eCirculars' is also used to disseminate relevant circulars.  While I have no plans at present to also publish circulars on circulars.gov.ie, I will keep the matter under review.

Local Authority Housing Data

Ceisteanna (206, 207)

Eoin Ó Broin

Ceist:

206. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the BER ratings of the local authority stock in the 31 local authorities nationally in tabular form. [5852/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Eoin Ó Broin

Ceist:

207. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the amount it costs to upgrade the BER rating of local authority homes in tabular form (details supplied). [5853/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 206 and 207 together.

The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) is the statutory agency responsible for the implementation and management of the Building Energy Rating (BER) Scheme, in accordance with Ireland’s obligations under the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive.  These regulations require every new building to have a BER Certificate since 1 January 2007.  In addition, any existing dwelling, offered for sale or letting on or after 1 January 2009, also requires a BER certificate.

Information and statistics in relation to the administration of the BER scheme are available on the SEAI website at

https://www.seai.ie/resources/publications/Domestic-BER-Statistics.pdf .

The SEAI also provide BER statistics to the Central Statistics Office (CSO) which, in turn, publishes comprehensive quarterly bulletins which provide a detailed breakdown of BER ratings. This information is available on the CSO website at

https://www.cso.ie/en/statistics/environmentstatistics/domesticbuildingenergyratings/.

My Department does not collate data on BER statistics or collect BER data in relation to social housing homes. However all dwellings, including social housing, must comply with building regulations. Current regulations require a typical dwelling to have a BER of A3 and 98% of all new dwellings are, indeed, built to this standard.

The Nearly Zero Energy Building (NZEB) performance for new dwellings represents an improvement in energy and carbon dioxide emissions performance of 70% over 2005 standards and requires renewables on all new dwellings. This is typically equivalent to a Building Energy Rating (BER) of A2. The draft regulations and accompanying technical guidance to implement this have completed public consultation and the regulations are expected to be signed into law shortly. These regulations will also require that where Major Renovations take place which are greater than 25% of the surface area of the dwelling, the dwelling should achieve a cost optimal performance where feasible. This is equivalent to a B2 building energy rating for a typical dwelling.   

Local authorities are currently undertaking an ambitious programme of insulation retrofitting, with the support of my Department, on the least energy efficient social housing homes. Funding of some €128.7 million has been provided from 2013 to end-2018 to improve energy efficiency and comfort levels in over 68,000 local authority homes, benefitting those at risk of fuel poverty and making a significant contribution to Ireland’s carbon emissions reduction targets and energy reduction targets for 2020.

The insulation retrofitting programme is being implemented in a number of phases. Phase 1 commenced in 2013 and focused on providing attic/roof insulation and the less intrusive cavity wall insulation in all relevant properties. Phase 2 of the retrofitting programme focuses on the external fabric upgrade of those social housing homes with solid/hollow block wall construction.

The budget allocation for social housing energy efficiency works in 2019 is €25 million.  My Department is currently working with the local authorities regarding their work proposals and related funding requirements for 2019, following which allocations will be made.  The number of social homes to be targeted in 2019, and for subsequent years, will depend on the work proposals and priorities submitted from the local authorities, and the available funding.

Local Authority Staff Recruitment

Ceisteanna (208)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Ceist:

208. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government when permission will be granted to Galway County Council to appoint a permanent chief executive; the reason for the delay in sanctioning same in view of the fact it is many years since the council had a permanent chief executive; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5900/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

An initial legislative provision to enable the administrative integration of Galway City and County Councils, as a precursor to full integration of the two local authorities, was included in the Local Government Bill 2018 but was not approved as the Bill passed through both Houses of the Oireachtas.  Accordingly, drafting of the further Bill, which would have provided for the full integration of the two local authorities, is not planned to be advanced in 2019.

In 2014, the then Minister appointed a Temporary Chief Executive for Galway County Council until a permanent appointment was made. This took account of the ongoing local government reform programme.  Following the outcome of the legislative process in relation to the Local Government Bill 2018, as outlined above, my Department is reviewing the position in relation to the filling of the post of Chief Executive of Galway County Council on a substantive basis.