Working Family Payment Data

Ceisteanna (670)

John Brady

Ceist:

670. Deputy John Brady asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the number of persons in receipt of the working family payment, formerly the family income supplement, in each of the years 2008 to 2018, in tabular form. [11918/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

Working Family Payment (WFP) is a weekly in-work payment which provides additional financial support to employees on low earnings with children. WFP is designed to prevent in-work poverty for low paid workers with child dependents and to offer a financial incentive to take up employment.

The number of persons in receipt of WFP for years 2008 to 2018 were as follows:

Year

WFP Recipients

2008

27,798

2009

25,963

2010

28,223

2011

28,876

2012

32,307

2013

44,159

2014

50,306

2015

55,913

2016

55,567

2017

57,745

2018

54,116

It should be noted that the above figures refer to the number of families in receipt of WFP at the end of the relevant year. The figures fluctuate from week to week.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

One-Parent Family Payment

Ceisteanna (671)

John Brady

Ceist:

671. Deputy John Brady asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection her plans to introduce a comprehensive strategy of the long-term vision for lone parent families; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [11919/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

While social transfers play a crucial role in alleviating poverty, and Ireland is among the best performing EU States for reducing poverty through social transfers, tackling poverty in one parent families is not just about income supports and welfare. Rather it is also about supporting parents to make the transition into employment and assisting families through the provision of quality affordable services in areas such as education, health, housing and childcare. The diverse nature of these challenges demonstrates why the adoption of the whole of government approach is absolutely essential in order to tackle poverty and deprivation among one-parent families effectively.

The Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection is in the final stages of drafting the new Poverty and Social Inclusion Strategy which will support and build on the Whole of Government Approach to tackling poverty adopted under the Better Outcome Brighter Futures Framework. The new strategy will assemble in one place the range of policy measures across government departments that are designed to address the different aspects of poverty and social exclusion.

It will include a programme of work to identify the actions and services that have the most significant impact on reducing poverty and deprivation for different groups, including lone parent families.

It is intended that it will include targeted actions to improve supports that allow lone parents to take up education, training and employment opportunities.

Proposed Legislation

Ceisteanna (672)

John Brady

Ceist:

672. Deputy John Brady asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if her attention has been drawn to the Social Welfare Commission Bill 2018; her views on the objective of the Bill; if consideration has been given to the provisions and measures contained therein; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [11920/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

I am aware of the Social Welfare Commission Bill 2018, sponsored by the Deputy, which seeks to, among other things, establish a Commission to monitor and make recommendations on social welfare rates at least once per year.

The Deputy will be aware that the issue of benchmarking and indexation of social welfare rates is not new. For example, previous studies were conducted by the Commission on Social Welfare in 1986 and the Social Welfare Benchmarking and Indexation Group in 2001.

The Roadmap for Pension Reform, published last year, commits the Government to examine and develop proposals to set a formal benchmark target of 34% of average earnings for the State Pension (Contributory) and to institute a process whereby future changes in pension rates of payment are explicitly linked to changes in consumer prices and average wages. My Department is currently considering options to progress this commitment.

I welcome the Deputy's engagement with the issue which we discussed during the passage of the Social Welfare, Pensions and Civil Registration Bill 2018. In that context, Section 19 of the Act provides that I, as Minister, will arrange to "consult with stakeholders on examining ways in which social welfare rates are increased with the aim of ensuring adequacy for all recipients and will do so in quarter 1 of 2019". My Department will solicit the views of interested stakeholders and I look forward to seeing the outcome of these consultations.

As the Deputy is aware, any change to the current process of setting social welfare rates of payment would require Government approval and would have to be considered in the overall policy and budgetary context.

Illness Benefit Applications

Ceisteanna (673)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

673. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if all correspondence from her Department will be provided to a person (details supplied) who has had an ongoing case regarding an application for an illness benefit. [11952/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The Department will arrange for the information requested to be provided to the person concerned.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Public Sector Staff Grades

Ceisteanna (674)

Tony McLoughlin

Ceist:

674. Deputy Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if a person who has worked in a section 39 funded position for the past 12 years but who was not directly paid by the HSE will qualify for an analogous grade if that person commences work within her Department (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [11987/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

I understand that the question of the recruitment, grading and status of people appointed to the Civil Service is a matter for the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform and the Commission for Public Service Appointments.

I further understand that it is not possible for a person appointed from an open competition to rely on prior status in another employment for the purpose of grading in the civil or public service.

This is a matter that the Deputy may wish to clarify with the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform.

Small and Medium Enterprises Supports

Ceisteanna (675)

Willie Penrose

Ceist:

675. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if her attention has been drawn to the impact the abolition of training rates is having upon small businesses that are under pressure due to significant rates of VAT, PRSI, rates and other costs in their attempt to employ young persons as an apprentice; if training grants will restored in such circumstances; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12041/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

Legislation governing the national minimum wage is set down in the National Minimum Wage Act 2000 and the National Minimum Wage (Low Pay Commission) Act 2015. These Acts provide for the setting of a national minimum wage (NMW) and also provide that in specified circumstances, such as younger workers and trainees, a reduced, sub-minimum rate may be applied.

In September 2015, the then Minister requested the Low Pay Commission to examine the appropriateness of the sub-minimum rates as provided for in the National Minimum Wage Act 2000 with regard, in particular, to their impact on youth unemployment rates and participation in education.

The Commission undertook a consultation process on this subject in line with its evidence based approach to making recommendations to Government and received 15 submissions in total. The Commission's final report was published on 20 February 2018.

Having examined all available evidence and submissions, and considered a range of options, the Commission recommended the abolition of training rates. The Commission had heard evidence in submissions of the training rates being paid in order to reduce wage costs rather than as part of a structured training programme. The Commission found that the lack of clear definitions around training rates left them open to abuse. In light of these considerations and the low usage of the training rates the Commission was of the view that training rates should be abolished. The Commission encouraged sectors to register for state approved apprenticeship programmes, which are under the remit of the Department of Education and Skills, if they felt that a period of structured training was required.

In its report the Commission also recommended simplifying the rates of minimum wage for those aged under 18 to 20 as follows:

- Employees under 18 would receive a minimum of 70% of the NMW

- Employees aged 18 would receive a minimum of 80% of the NMW

- Employees aged 19 would receive a minimum of 90% of the NMW

- Employees aged 20 and over would receive the full NMW.

These recommendations were accepted by Government and the amendments to make the necessary legislative changes to the National Minimum Wage Act 2000 were implemented via the Employment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2018. The changes came into effect on 4 March 2019.

The Low Pay Commission is an independent authoritative body on matters relating to the national minimum wage and I am confident that the Commission gave consideration to the impact of any recommendations it made in regard to training rates.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Citizens Information Board

Ceisteanna (676)

Maureen O'Sullivan

Ceist:

676. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the estimated cost in a full year if the budget for Citizens Information Services increased by 8%. [12043/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The Citizens Information Board (CIB) is the statutory body responsible for supporting the provision of information, advice (including money and budgeting advice) and advocacy on a wide range of public and social services. It provides some services directly to the public and directly funds and supports an extensive range of services through its delivery partners including the Citizens Information Services (CIS’s), the Citizens Information Phone Service (CIPS) ,the Money Advice and Budgeting Service ( MABS), the National Advocacy Service for People with Disabilities (NAS), and the Sign Language Interpreting Service (SLIS).

CIB is allocated an annual budget from which it funds all of its services. In 2019, CIB’s overall budget allocation is €59.26 million. From this, CIB has allocated €16.9 million for citizens’ information services, comprising €14.1m allocated to the 8 regional Citizens Information Services, €1.5m allocated towards central supports provided to these companies, e,g insurance costs, advertising, training and other overheads and, €1.3 million allocated to the Citizens Information Phone Service, which provides a comprehensive and confidential national telephone service.

If the allocation of €16.9m for the citizens’ information services were to increase by 8%, CIB would require an increased allocation from central Government funds of €1.35 million.

Social Insurance

Ceisteanna (677)

Maureen O'Sullivan

Ceist:

677. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the amount that would be generated if the 2.6% PRSI rate of classes B, C or D increased to 3% or a minimum of €300. [12044/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

Low rate voluntary contributors (those formerly insured at Classes B, C and D) currently pay a 2.6% PRSI contribution rate (subject to a minimum annual payment of €250) to maintain their entitlement to widow's, widower's or surviving civil partner's (contributory) pension and guardian's payment.

There were 17 low rate contributors in 2017 and it is estimated that increasing their contribution rate from 2.6% to 3% with an increased minimum payment of €300 would yield €3,000.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Tús Programme

Ceisteanna (678)

Paul Kehoe

Ceist:

678. Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection her plans under development to extend the Tús scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12056/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

It is recognised by Government that Tús is a positive initiative that enables the long-term unemployed to make a contribution to their communities whilst up-skilling themselves for prospective future employment.

Tús provides work placements for a twelve month period for those who are on the Live Register for a year or more. This initiative helps break the cycle of long-term unemployment by providing a work routine and valuable work experience. At present, there are no plans to change the eligibility criteria for participation on Tús or the duration of the placements. It is considered that the existing criteria is adequate to meet the programme’s objectives.

If a person is interested in pursuing a work placement with training and development opportunities, it is open to them to apply for a placement on a Community Employment (CE) scheme.

The Department keeps all aspects of its activation programmes under review to ensure the best outcomes for participants and communities whilst also having regard to the, thankfully, much reduced number of people claiming jobseeker's payments. The Government is very mindful of the large number of work programme places involved in service delivery and other valuable services to individuals and communities across Ireland.

Poverty Data

Ceisteanna (679)

John Curran

Ceist:

679. Deputy John Curran asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection her views on the recent report from an organisation (details supplied), which found that the rate of in-work poverty among lone parents more than doubled between 2012 and 2017; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12063/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

I note the report referred to by the Deputy.

The policy goal of the changes to the OFP scheme were to tackle long-term social welfare dependency - and its associated poverty risks - through a tapering of income supports and a more active engagement process offering enhanced educational, training and employment supports for lone parents via the Department’s Intreo service.

A recent review of in-work supports found that the current range of supports works very well for the vast majority of families and facilitates an element of choice which allows them to select the option which best suits their needs.

A working lone parent on OFP and working 15 hours per week is raised significantly above the poverty line. This parent is currently incentivised to work additional hours to qualify for Working Family Payment (WFP). Even at the WFP minimum 19 hours per week and on the National Minimum Wage, a lone parent on WFP is lifted significantly above the poverty line.

The SVP report uses the 2012 EU-SILC in-work poverty figure for single parents as the base line for its assertion that lone parent in-work poverty in Ireland has more than doubled from 8.9% to 20.8% since 2012. As the table below shows, the relevant EU-SILC figure for 2008 was 26.2%, so compared to the 2017 figure of 20.8% there has been a reduction of in-work poverty for single parents over the last decade, which puts a different perspective on this matter.

In-Work at-risk-of-poverty rate by household type - Single Person with dependent children

Year

2008

2009

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015

2016

2017

Ireland

26.2%

18.0%

10.0%

10.9%

8.9%

10.5%

11.8%

14.0%

20.3%

20.8%

Source: EU-SILC Data

Budget 2019 raised the weekly rates of payment for working age schemes and also increased the income disregard for one-parent family payment and jobseeker’s transition payment recipients to €150 per week with effect from 25/03/19 (the highest income disregard level to date). The weekly rates of the IQC in 2019 will also increase: by €2.20 per week (from €31.80 to €34) for children under 12; and by €5.20 per week (from €31.80 to €37) for children 12 and over. This measure will benefit over 370,000 children and will help to tackle child poverty.

With regard to increases introduced in Budget 2019 alone, for example, a lone parent working 15 hours per week at the National Minimum Wage is now better off by almost €1,000 per year.

The Department’s social impact assessments of Budgets 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019 are an indicator of the improvements over that time for lone parents. These show a cumulative increase of €43.75 in the average weekly household income of employed lone parents (and €45.00 for unemployed lone parents). This compares favourably with a weekly increase of €39.25 for the average household.

The Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection is in the final stages of drafting the new Poverty and Social Inclusion Strategy which will assemble in one place the range of policy measures across government departments that are designed to address the different aspects of poverty and social exclusion. It is intended that it will include targeted actions to improve supports that allow lone parents to take up education, training and employment opportunities. The new strategy will include a programme of work to identify the actions and services that have the most significant impact on reducing poverty and deprivation for different groups, including children.

Rent Supplement Scheme Data

Ceisteanna (680)

John Brassil

Ceist:

680. Deputy John Brassil asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the number of persons in receipt of rent supplement at a location (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12087/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

Rent supplement continues to play a 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 9 residents in the facility referred to by the Deputy, in appropriate accommodation of their choosing.

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 Housing Assistance Payment (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.

Carer's Allowance Appeals

Ceisteanna (681)

Willie O'Dea

Ceist:

681. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection when a decision will be made regarding an appeal for a carer's allowance by a person (details supplied) that was appealed in August 2018.; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12097/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was registered in that office on 10th August 2018. It is a statutory requirement of the appeals process that the relevant papers and comments by or on behalf of the Deciding Officer on the grounds of appeal be sought from the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection. These papers were received in the Social Welfare Appeals Office on 12th February 2019. On 19th February 2019 the case was referred to an Appeals Officer who will make a summary decision on the appeal based on the documentary evidence presented or, if required, hold an oral hearing.

The Social Welfare Appeals Office functions independently of the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection and of the Department and is responsible for determining appeals against decisions in relation to social welfare entitlements.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Jobseeker's Benefit Eligibility

Ceisteanna (682)

Eamon Scanlon

Ceist:

682. Deputy Eamon Scanlon asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection when jobseeker's benefit will be extended to self-employed persons; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12157/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

In Budget 2019, I announced a new scheme which will provide a PRSI insurance based benefit to self-employed people who pay class S contributions and lose employment. This measure builds on other recent significant improvements for the self-employed such as access to invalidity pension and treatment benefits. It is part of the Government’s aim of creating a supportive environment for entrepreneurship, including providing an income safety net to employees and self-employed alike.

Applicants will have to satisfy the qualifying conditions for the new scheme including satisfying a PRSI contribution requirement. The statutory conditions and requirements for the scheme are being worked through by officials at this time as part of the legislative process and the measure will be introduced towards the end of this year.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Child Benefit Applications

Ceisteanna (683)

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

683. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if a person who fails on an appeal in respect of a payment (details supplied) can further appeal or opt for a mediation process; if there is a sunset clause regarding when a person can make an application in respect of a payment; if she will further review a case in view of the fact that there is a series of mitigating factors; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12255/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The person concerned submitted an application for child benefit to my Department in April 2018 in respect of her son who was born in April 2015. I understand from the Appeals Office that child benefit was awarded from May 2018 as it was decided that the person concerned had not shown good cause for not submitting her application within the prescribed time. The person concerned appealed the Deciding Officer's decision to the Social Welfare Appeals Office.

I am advised by the Social Welfare Appeals Office that an Appeals Officer, having fully considered all the available evidence, decided that the person concerned had not shown good cause for not submitting her application within the prescribed time and, therefore, disallowed the appeal.

Under the legislation the decision of an Appeals Officer is final and conclusive and may only be reviewed under Section 317 of the Social Welfare Consolidation Act 2005 by an Appeals Officer in the light of new evidence or new facts. If there is any new evidence or new facts pertinent to this case that were not brought to the attention of the Appeals Officer during the determination of the appeal, they may be submitted to the Social Welfare Appeals Office for consideration.

The Chief Appeals Officer has power under Section 318 of the Social Welfare Consolidation Act 2005 to revise any decision where it appears to her that the Appeals Officer’s decision was erroneous by reason of some mistake having been made in relation to the law or the facts. A request for such a review by the Chief Appeals Officer may be made by writing to her at the Social Welfare Appeals Office, D’Olier House, D’Olier Street, Dublin 2.

If it is decided to take this course of action, it will be necessary that the person concerned sets down specifically the reasons which she believes renders the Appeals Officer’s decision incorrect having regard to his/her interpretation or application of the law or the facts.

The Social Welfare Consolidation Act 2005 (Section 327) also provides that any person who is dissatisfied with either the decision of an Appeals Officer or of a revised decision made by the Chief Appeals Officer may appeal that decision or revised decision, as the case may be, to the High Court on any question of law.

The Social Welfare Appeals Office functions independently of the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection and of the Department and is responsible for determining appeals against decisions in relation to social welfare entitlements.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Free Travel Scheme Applications

Ceisteanna (684)

Marc MacSharry

Ceist:

684. Deputy Marc MacSharry asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if the case of a person (details supplied) in County Leitrim will be reviewed; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12302/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The current free travel scheme provides free travel on the main public and private transport services for those eligible under the scheme. These include road, rail and ferry services provided by companies such as Bus Átha Cliath, Bus Éireann and Iarnród Éireann, as well as Luas and services provided by over 80 private transport operators. There are currently approximately 937,000 customers with direct eligibility with an annual allocation of €95 million.

Persons resident in Ireland who are over 66 and persons in receipt of certain social welfare payments are eligible for the scheme. The social welfare payments that allow persons aged under 66 to a free travel pass include disability allowance, invalidity pension, carer’s allowance and partial capacity benefit. While medical evidence will be required to determine eligibility for these schemes, it does not, of itself, entitle a person to free travel.

A person in receipt of an Invalidity Pension receives the pass on the basis of the primary benefit they are paid, and not on the basis of their underlying medical condition. If the free travel scheme was to be extended to all people who had a disability and/or significant health issues, regardless of whether they receive a qualifying payment, a medical assessment process would be required for all such applications, significantly changing the nature of the scheme.

Any suggestion to change or review the eligibility criteria of the free travel scheme to include all people who had a disability and/or significant health issues, regardless of whether they receive a qualifying payment, would have significant costs, would require additional significant administrative processes to be put in place, and could only be considered in the context of overall budgetary negotiations.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Domiciliary Care Allowance

Ceisteanna (685)

Eamon Scanlon

Ceist:

685. Deputy Eamon Scanlon asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if discriminatory elements (details supplied) of the domiciliary care allowance scheme will be addressed; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12324/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

Domiciliary Care Allowance (DCA) is an allowance established as a recognition of the extra care and attention that is provided by parents in their home for a child with a severe disability requiring continual or continuous care and attention which is substantially in excess of that normally required by a child of the same age.

I wish to confirm for the Deputy that the issue he raises has now been addressed. Until recently a child had to be resident with a parent for a minimum of five days per week in order for that parent to qualify for the allowance. Minister Doherty recently introduced a change to the legislation governing Domiciliary Care Allowance which is set out under the Social Welfare (Consolidated Claims, Payments and Control) (Amendment) (No. 1) (Domiciliary Care Allowance – Normal Residence of Qualified Child) Regulations, S.I no.11 of 2019.

These Regulations provide for an exception to the 5-day residence condition set out in the main Regulations to allow for the award of DCA in cases of joint custody, allowing for the payment of DCA in circumstances where the child is resident with both parents, who are living apart. Where there is agreement between the parents concerned, the DCA will be payable to the nominated parent. Where there is no such agreement, the default position will be that DCA will be paid to the parent who is in receipt of child benefit in respect of the child.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Carer's Allowance Applications

Ceisteanna (686)

Willie O'Dea

Ceist:

686. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection when a decision will be made on an application for a carer's allowance by a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12371/19]

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 4 March 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.

Property Registration

Ceisteanna (687)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

687. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the steps which should be taken when a folio regarding a derelict property is registered in a now deceased person's name and following their death, the person had no family to transfer it to. [11765/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

The Property Registration Authority can amend the ownership, registered on a folio, upon receipt of an application for registration. In the event of the death of the registered owner an application would typically be received from a solicitor acting on behalf of the estate of the deceased person. Arrangements have been put in place by all bodies under the aegis of my Department to facilitate the provision of information directly to members of the Oireachtas. The contact email address for the Property Registration Authority is reps@prai.ie.

Building Regulations

Ceisteanna (688, 714)

Marc MacSharry

Ceist:

688. Deputy Marc MacSharry asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if the use of electric vehicles has given rise to reassessment of health and safety in design, construction and operation of underground, multistorey or enclosed car parks and parking areas generally; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12090/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Marc MacSharry

Ceist:

714. Deputy Marc MacSharry asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the changes that have been made to planning and building regulations with respect to enclosed, multistorey or underground car parks in terms of fire prevention in which electric cars are to be parked; the position in relation to the parking and storage of electric vehicles; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12128/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 688 and 714 together.

To date no issues have been brought to the attention of my Department that require changes to building or planning regulations in respect of fire prevention in car parks in which electric vehicles are to be parked.

In relation to planning, the current planning system supports the roll out of electric vehicles. The development of charging infrastructure for electric vehicles is exempt from planning permission under Section 4(1)(h) of the Planning and Development Act 2000, as amended, where development does not materially affect the external appearance of the structure and must be installed by an undertaker authorised to provide an electricity service. The exemption relates to removing the requirement to obtain planning permission only. Works being undertaken to install infrastructure for LEV charging/refuelling also must comply with the requirements of the building regulations.

The building regulations are subject to ongoing review in the interests of safety and the well-being of persons in the built environment and to ensure that due regard is taken of changes in construction techniques, technological progress and innovation. Part B – Volume 1 of the Fire Safety Technical Guidance Document (TGD) which deals with buildings other than dwellings is currently under review and will be the subject of a public consultation process in the coming months. Provisions in respect of buildings comprising or containing car parking will form part of the review.

The revised EU Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD) contains new provisions which aim to accelerate deployment of electric vehicles. Article 8 requires the provision of appropriate infrastructure, to enable the installation at a later stage of recharging points for electric vehicles, for new residential buildings and residential buildings undergoing major renovation, by 2020. It also requires Member States to lay down requirements for the installation of a minimum number of recharging points for all non-residential buildings with more than 20 parking spaces, by 2025. This will be implemented in regulation by my Department by March 2020. The draft regulations required will be the subject of a public consultation process in the coming months.

The national specification for installation of recharging points is being developed by the National Standards Authority of Ireland (NSAI) and a draft specification is undergoing a public consultation process at present.

Property Tax Data

Ceisteanna (689, 690)

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

689. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the revenue received by each county from the local property tax each year since its introduction, in tabular form; the amount of that money each year spent locally by each county; the amount of that money each year paid into the equalisation fund by each county; the amount of money received from the equalisation fund each year by each county; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12367/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Barry Cowen

Ceist:

690. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the amount of local property tax collected by local authority each year since its introduction; the amount spent each year locally by local authority from the tax either from revenue or the equalisation fund; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12553/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 689 and 690 together.

Local Property Tax (LPT) is administered and collected by the Revenue Commissioners and is remitted into the Local Government Fund. The Revenue Commissioners publish detailed information on LPT collected annually, broken down by local authority, on its website at the following web link: https://www.revenue.ie/en/corporate/information-about-revenue/statistics/local-property-tax/index.aspx..

The current local retention regime for LPT began in 2015 and since then 80% of the estimated LPT liability in each local authority area for a given year is retained in that area to fund public services, notwithstanding any local variation decisions. The remaining 20% of LPT is re-distributed to provide equalisation funding to those local authorities that have lower property tax bases, due to, inter alia, the variance in property values and density in different locations across the State. Detailed information on the LPT retention regime including equalisation funding and allocations is published by my Department on an annual basis and is available at the following link:

https://www.housing.gov.ie/search/archived/current/category/housing/sub-topic/local-property-tax/sub-type/funding-allocation/topic/chargestaxes/type/publications?Query.

Water and Sewerage Schemes Funding

Ceisteanna (691)

Brendan Griffin

Ceist:

691. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government his views on a matter (details supplied) regarding the provision of funding in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11467/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

Since 1 January 2014, Irish Water has statutory responsibility for all aspects of public water services planning, delivery and operation at national, regional and local levels. Connection applications are therefore a matter for Irish Water.

Irish Water has established a dedicated team to deal with representations and queries from public representatives. The team can be contacted via email to oireachtasmembers@water.ie or by telephone on a dedicated number, 1890 578 578.

Alternatively, the Rural Water Programme may be of relevance in relation to the matter referred to by the Deputy. On 8 February 2019, I announced a new investment programme for the period 2019- 2021 for the provision of water services in rural areas. The Programme consists of eight funding measures. Local authorities have been invited to submit their proposals for the funding of schemes or projects in their functional areas.

The funding measures under the Programme include Measure 6 - Community Connections (Water and Wastewater). This measure facilitates the continued expansion of the coverage of piped water supplies and central wastewater collection systems by extension off the public (Irish Water) network. The deadline for receipt of proposals to my Department is 14 March 2019.

The Programme also includes a measure (Measure 8) targeted at Domestic Wastewater Treatment Systems (septic tanks), which allows householders obtain funding support for their improvement. The terms and conditions of the revised funding scheme under this measure are currently being finalised by my Department and details will be issued to local authorities shortly.

Both Measure 6 and 8 may be of interest to the community at the location indicated by the Deputy in which case it is a matter for them to consider applying through the local authority for funding.

Planning Issues

Ceisteanna (692)

Brendan Griffin

Ceist:

692. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if legislation will be introduced to make it compulsory to keep leylandii trees under control; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11477/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

Planning legislation places no specific restrictions on the height of trees or hedges, nor does it make any particular provision for remedy from any other nuisance which may be caused by trees in an urban residential area. However, a civil remedy is available through the Courts concerning branches or roots of neighbouring trees encroaching on a person’s property.

The possibility of providing a broader civil law remedy for parties affected by high trees and hedges on adjoining properties was raised previously with the Minister for Justice and Equality. In this regard, advice was sought on the possibility of legislative provision being made, whereby a person substantially deprived of the enjoyment of their property, such as the deprivation of light caused by high trees on a neighbouring property, could apply to the Courts for an order, and that the Courts could make an order as they see fit, for example, to cut the trees back to an appropriate height. Safety considerations relating to overhanging trees could also potentially be addressed in any such provisions.

In response, the Minister for Justice and Equality suggested that disputes of this nature between neighbours could perhaps be more appropriately dealt with through mediation, which is being increasingly used internationally as a tool for the resolution of civil disputes, rather than through the Courts. Legislation subsequently introduced by the Minister for Justice and Equality has been enacted as the Mediation Act 2017.

The Act, which came into operation on 1 January 2018, contains provisions to underpin a comprehensive statutory framework to promote the resolution of disputes through mediation as an alternative to court proceedings which should ideally be only used as a last resort. In essence, the underlying objective of the Act is to promote mediation as a viable, effective and efficient alternative to court proceedings, thereby reducing legal costs, speeding up the resolution of disputes and reducing the stress and acrimony which often accompanies court proceedings, including those involving adjoining property owners.