I propose to take Questions Nos. 684 to 687, inclusive, and 689 together.
Local authorities are responsible, in the first instance, for the management and maintenance of their own housing stock under the Housing Acts, including responsive and planned maintenance and the identification of housing in need of upgrade, regeneration or adaptation. My Department provides exchequer support to the local authorities across a number of programmes to support their work to maintain and improve their social housing stock but, in all cases, it is the local authorities that identify priority works.
The funding support from my Department to the local authorities to improve their social housing stock includes significant commitments under regeneration and energy retrofitting. Under the regeneration programme, local authorities are making significant progress in the advancement of major programmes in areas including Dolphin House and St Teresa’s Gardens in Dublin, as well as in Limerick and Cork cities and a number of other areas. In Dolphin House, where complaints had arisen previously regarding some housing conditions, 2018 saw the full refurbishment of 63 of the existing apartments alongside the construction of 37 newly built social homes for the residents of the area, with over €25 million in investment. The regeneration programme there will continue into 2019 and beyond.
The energy retrofitting programme has seen over 68,000 social houses and apartments being retrofitted to date, through some €128m of investment. The programme aims to improve energy efficiency and comfort levels and address issues around fuel poverty. These investments to improve the housing stock, with exchequer support, are additional to ongoing work and investment by the local authorities themselves.
I understand that stock condition surveys are now either completed, underway or in planning in a number of local authority areas, including Dublin City. The extent to which the refurbishment or upgrade to social housing is required, and the plans of local authorities to address this, will depend on the findings of the individual stock conditions surveys as they are completed. Some stock may require little or no upgrading and responsive maintenance will continue to be provided by all local authorities, as has been the case to date to address housing issues as they arise in the authorities’ social housing stock.
The very significant investment currently being made in regeneration projects such as Dolphin House, which was specifically referenced in the complaint regarding social housing conditions in Ireland made to the European Committee of Social Rights, is a key element of the Irish Government’s commitment to these issues. Equally, the continued work of local authorities in undertaking stock condition surveys and both responsive and planned maintenance programmes, as well as important programmes such as the Energy Retrofitting programme, also address the issues of concern raised with the European Committee of Social Rights.