Carer's Support Grant

Ceisteanna (723)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

723. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the annual respite entitlements of those receiving full-time care. [26809/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The Carer’s Support Grant (formerly called the Respite Care Grant) is an annual payment made by the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection to full-time carers.

The Grant is paid automatically to carers who are receiving Carer’s Allowance (whether full rate or half rate), Carer’s Benefit, or Domiciliary Care Allowance. Other full-time carers who are not receiving any of these payments may also apply for the Carer’s Support Grant. The Grant is paid at the rate of €1,700 per annum in respect of each person being cared for.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy

Disability Allowance Applications

Ceisteanna (724)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

724. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of a disability allowance application by a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26814/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

Invalidity pension (IP) is a payment for people who are permanently incapable of work because of illness or incapacity and who satisfy the pay related social insurance (PRSI) contribution conditions.

The department received a claim for IP for the lady concerned on 05 March 2019. This claim was disallowed on the grounds that the medical conditions for the scheme were not satisfied. She was notified on 21 June 2019 of this decision, the reasons for it and of her right of review and appeal.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Childcare Services

Ceisteanna (725)

John Brady

Ceist:

725. Deputy John Brady asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection her views on the impact of the new national childcare scheme for low-income families, in particular lone parents; if concerns have been raised with her by stakeholders; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26845/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

I work closely with that Minister on a regular basis on a range of issues, including the national childcare scheme, which is to be expected given the shared policy objectives across our respective departments.

The new national childcare scheme will benefit most families; however, I understand from that a number of issues have been raised with as regards to the impact on lone parents. Arrangements are in place to ensure that no one loses out in the initial transition to the new Scheme. So, whilst there may have been fears that, in a small number of cases, a family currently receiving the maximum amount of financial support for full-time childcare under an existing programme may receive less under the new Scheme, particularly if their child is, in reality, receiving afterschool care only rather than full-time childcare, they will not lose out. The family can continue to access their current targeted supports (i.e. effectively remain on their current payment) until at least the end of August 2020.

I understand that officials from the Department of Children and Youth Affairs have also been directed to undertake research and analysis to examine any adjustments to the National Childcare Scheme which might be required to address unusual or anomalous cases, where this is the right thing to do to protect and benefit lower income parents. In this regard, it is important to highlight that the new National Childcare Scheme has been designed to be flexible, with income thresholds, maximum hours and subsidy rates which can be adjusted in line with Government decisions and as more investment becomes available. As such, any adjustments deemed necessary by Government can be carried out in a quick and responsive manner.

Childcare Services

Ceisteanna (726)

John Brady

Ceist:

726. Deputy John Brady asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if she had an engagement with the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs on the new national childcare scheme and the potential impact on low-income families and, in particular, lone parents; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26846/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

I work closely with that Minister on a regular basis on a range of issues, including the national childcare scheme, which is to be expected given the shared policy objectives across our respective departments.

The new national childcare scheme will benefit most families; however, I understand from that a number of issues have been raised with as regards to the impact on lone parents. Arrangements are in place to ensure that no one loses out in the initial transition to the new Scheme. So, whilst there may have been fears that, in a small number of cases, a family currently receiving the maximum amount of financial support for full-time childcare under an existing programme may receive less under the new Scheme, particularly if their child is, in reality, receiving afterschool care only rather than full-time childcare, they will not lose out. The family can continue to access their current targeted supports (i.e. effectively remain on their current payment) until at least the end of August 2020.

I understand that officials from the Department of Children and Youth Affairs have also been directed to undertake research and analysis to examine any adjustments to the National Childcare Scheme which might be required to address unusual or anomalous cases, where this is the right thing to do to protect and benefit lower income parents. In this regard, it is important to highlight that the new National Childcare Scheme has been designed to be flexible, with income thresholds, maximum hours and subsidy rates which can be adjusted in line with Government decisions and as more investment becomes available. As such, any adjustments deemed necessary by Government can be carried out in a quick and responsive manner.

State Pension (Contributory)

Ceisteanna (727)

Mick Barry

Ceist:

727. Deputy Mick Barry asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the measures she will take to address the losses in pension income suffered by tens of thousands of women arising from the 2012 reforms introduced by her predecessor; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26853/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

As announced in January 2018, pensioners born on or after the 1st September 1946, affected by the 2012 changes in rate bands, will have their state pension (contributory) entitlement calculated under an interim 'Total Contributions Approach' (TCA). These changes also provide for up to 20 years of home caring periods in the pension entitlement calculation, for those who took time out of the workplace for parenting or caring duties.

My Department is currently implementing reviews in respect of pensioners who reached pension age on or after 1 September 2012, many of whom were affected by the rateband changes and some of whom were not, but who may benefit from the new scheme, notably the provisions regarding Homecaring. To date, over 26,000 such pensioners have benefitted, and others are expected to benefit as reviews progress. It is important to note that nobody is worse off as a result of these reviews, with pensioners receiving the same amount as they previously did if the reviews do not warrant an increase.

The Government intends to introduce a Total Contributions Approach (TCA) to establishing the level of entitlement for all new state pension contributory claims from 2020 onwards.

I launched a public consultation on the design of the full TCA on the 28th of May 2018 to which a wide variety of stakeholder groups were invited. A number of workshops were also held on the day to elicit views and feedback. All Oireachtas members were invited to a detailed briefing in Leinster House by my officials shortly afterwards. The consultation was open for over 3 months and the Department received almost 300 responses from individuals and organisations. Those submissions outlined the views of respondents on a number of issues, including the number of years required for a full pension, as intended as part of the consultation process.

Having carefully examined the outputs of the consultation process, my Department is now finalising the scheme and I intend to shortly bring a proposal to Government setting out that design. When the Government has agreed the approach to be taken, I will initiate the work required to introduce this reform.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Proposed Legislation

Ceisteanna (728)

Jan O'Sullivan

Ceist:

728. Deputy Jan O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection when the planned legislative changes to address the area of bogus self-employment announced in the media on 25 March 2019 will be published; the number of occasions on which she or her officials have consulted directly with trade unions on the changes she plans to make since the announcement on 25 March 2019; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26883/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

I am particularly determined to tackle the issue of false self-employment. I believe the deliberate mis-classification of a worker as a self-employed contractor, in a situation where they are actually working as an employee, is wrong for a number of reasons.

Firstly, it denies the worker full protection under the Social Welfare Acts, which means he or she is deprived of entitlements such as short-term illness and disability benefits. Secondly, it deprives the worker of protection under labour law which means the a worker is left without any redress if they are unfairly dismissed, made redundant, or are not paid minimum wage rates, for example. Thirdly, this form of non-compliance by employers deprives all taxpayers in the form of reduced returns to the Social Insurance Fund.

I believe that enforcement of PRSI compliance is paramount and I have instructed my Department's inspectors to increase the level of employer inspections nationwide. This work is ongoing. Additionally, I have established a new Unit of inspectors, specifically trained and dedicated to the detection and tackling of false self-employment in particular.

I have also assigned my officials the task of modernising the Code of Practice on employment status. This is a vital tool for employers and employees so they can be clear when a worker is genuinely self-employed or alternatively when they should be recorded as an employee under full PRSI. A new manual – the Guidance on Employment Status – is currently being finalised. The new Guidance will be put on a statutory footing, to ensure it becomes central to the decision-making process in employment status cases.

A good deal of progress has been made by my officials in developing a number of legislative proposals that strengthen the protections for workers in situations of false self-employment. These include providing anti-penalisation provisions for workers who will be able to take a claim to the WRC if they are victimised by an employer for raising a query regarding their status. I also wish to increase penalties for employers who deliberately mis-classify employees as being self-employed.

Work is ongoing to finalise the Guidance document and the legislative proposals and I hope to progress these this year.

The Trade Union movement has a key part to play in any work to tackle these issues and I value its input, as I value the input of employer representative bodies.

I have consulted with both sides regarding this matter of false self-employment as part of my own and my officials' engagement in the Labour Employer Economic Forum (LEEF). I chaired the inaugural meeting of the LEEF subgroup on Employment Legislation and Regulation and I and my Department bring these issues to the LEEF plenary meetings. There have been four Employment Subgroup meetings since it was established in July 2018, and four LEEF Plenaries at which this topic was discussed with ICTU.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Mayoral Election

Ceisteanna (729)

Martin Kenny

Ceist:

729. Deputy Martin Kenny asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government his plans for a plebiscite to allow for a directly elected mayor in Sligo town. [26053/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

The Programme for a Partnership Government includes a commitment to consider the issue of directly elected mayors for Ireland's cities. In this regard, following consideration and approval by Government of detailed policy proposals on directly elected mayors with executive functions, plebiscites were held on the Government's proposals in Cork City, Limerick City and County and Waterford City and County Council areas on 24 May, 2019.

The people of the Limerick City and County Council voted in favour of the Government's proposals for a directly elected Mayor with executive functions for their area, while the people of Cork City and Waterford City and County Council areas narrowly rejected the proposals.

My Department will now prioritise the delivery of the mandate given by the people of Limerick and, in accordance with the Local Government Act 2019, a report with legislative proposals for a directly elected mayor for Limerick will be submitted to the Oireachtas.

There has been consideration of governance arrangements and the office of mayor or cathaoirleach for other local authority areas. There will be a Citizens Assembly in 2020 to consider the issue in Dublin. The position regarding other local authority areas will be kept under review.

Traveller Data

Ceisteanna (730)

Anne Rabbitte

Ceist:

730. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of Traveller children in homelessness in each of the years 2014 to 2018 and to date in 2019, by county in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26507/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

My Department currently publishes data on a monthly basis on the number of homeless persons accommodated in emergency accommodation funded and overseen by housing authorities. These reports are based on data provided by housing authorities, produced through the Pathway Accommodation & Support System (PASS). The reports are collated on a regional basis, are published on my Department's website and can be accessed using the following link:

http://www.housing.gov.ie/housing/homelessness/other/homelessness-data.

The reports do not provide information on the ethnicity of households accessing emergency accommodation and as such the information requested by the Deputy is not available in my Department.

Prospecting Licences

Ceisteanna (731)

Eoin Ó Broin

Ceist:

731. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if his officials or the relevant State agencies have been consulted on a planning application by a company (details supplied) to build an underground gold and silver mine in west County Tyrone under EU transboundary environmental requirements. [26071/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

My Department has made enquires with the Northern Ireland Department for Infrastructure in relation to this matter. I am advised that no transboundary consultation between that Department and any body or agency in Ireland has taken place in respect of this planning application to date. I understand that the Department for Infrastructure in Northern Ireland has not yet considered the application in the context of any potential transboundary effects. However, I am advised by my Department that where a likely significant transboundary effect is identified, such consultation will be initiated in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Espoo Convention on Transboundary Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and the EU EIA Directive.

Where it is considered that the development is likely to have significant effects on the environment in Ireland, it is open to my Department to request for such a consultation to be carried out.

Traveller Accommodation

Ceisteanna (732, 755)

Fiona O'Loughlin

Ceist:

732. Deputy Fiona O'Loughlin asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the funding allocated and drawn down by local authorities for Traveller accommodation to date in 2019, in tabular form. [26189/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Anne Rabbitte

Ceist:

755. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the funding allocation for Traveller accommodation for each local authority in each of the years 2014 to 2019; the drawdown to date for each local authority in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26503/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 732 and 755 together.

In accordance with the Housing (Traveller Accommodation) Act 1998, housing authorities have statutory responsibility for the assessment of the accommodation needs of Travellers and the preparation, adoption and implementation of multi-annual Traveller Accommodation Programmes (TAPs) in their areas. My Department’s role is to ensure that there are adequate structures and supports in place to assist the authorities in providing such accommodation, including a national framework of policy, legislation and funding.

Housing authorities submit funding proposals for individual Traveller-specific projects and developments on an annual basis. These projects are assessed on a case-by-case basis in my Department in advance of allocations being made. In addition, further funding may be considered by my Department throughout the year in the light of progress across the programme generally. There is regular contact between my Department and housing authorities in order to try to ensure maximum progress and drawdown.

The amounts of funding allocated and drawn down in each of the years 2014 to 2019 by local authorities for Traveller-specific accommodation are set out in the following link: Allocation v drawdown

Regional Spatial and Economic Strategy

Ceisteanna (733, 748)

Clare Daly

Ceist:

733. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the date on which the finalised regional spatial and economic strategy for the eastern and midlands region will be published. [26191/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Darragh O'Brien

Ceist:

748. Deputy Darragh O'Brien asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the date the finalised regional spatial and economic strategy for the eastern and midlands region will be published; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26429/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 733 and 748 together.

The making of a Regional Spatial and Economic Strategy (RSES) is a function of the relevant Regional Assembly, in this case the Eastern and Midland Regional Assembly (EMRA), under Section 21 of the Planning and Development Act 2000 (as amended).

At the meeting of EMRA on 3 May 2019, the Members of the Assembly agreed to make the RSES for the Region on 28 June 2019, in accordance with section 24(9) of the Planning and Development Act 2000 (as amended). This was confirmed by the Regional Assembly in a letter to my Department, dated 15 May 2019. It is my understanding that the finalised RSES will be published on 28 June.

County Development Plans

Ceisteanna (734, 735, 736, 749, 750, 751)

Clare Daly

Ceist:

734. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if he will request Fingal County Council to provide him with a comprehensive briefing on the substance of all postal and online submissions made through the public consultation phase of the draft Castlelands, Balbriggan, development master plan (details supplied); if the council will be instructed to defer further action on the plan pending a review by him of the substantive briefing; if his views on the briefing will be made available before the plan is progressed by the council; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26192/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Clare Daly

Ceist:

735. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if Fingal County Council will be instructed that if as the Castlelands, Balbriggan, development draft master plan (details supplied) is to be progressed, it must be amended as necessary in order that it is fully aligned with the new eastern and midlands regional spatial and economic strategy as developed within the national planning framework under Project Ireland 2040 and specifically to ensure that the plan is aligned comprehensively with the designation of Balbriggan by the regional spatial and economic strategy, RSES, as a small hinterland town that is not suitable for and is not to receive high-density and-or high-rise development. [26193/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Clare Daly

Ceist:

736. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if he will request Fingal County Council to provide a copy of all internal correspondence and relevant planning written and email documentation between the planning division and the Our Balbriggan project of the council from the inception of the project to date in respect of the draft Castlelands, Balbriggan, development master plan published on 7 May 2019 (details supplied). [26194/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Darragh O'Brien

Ceist:

749. Deputy Darragh O'Brien asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if he will request Fingal County Council to provide him with a comprehensive briefing on the substance of all postal and online submissions made through the public consultation phase of the draft Castlelands, Balbriggan, development master plan that opened on 7 May 2019 and closed on 28 May 2019 (details supplied); if the council will be instructed to defer further action on the plan pending a review by him of the substantive briefing; if his views on the briefing will be made known before the plan is progressed further by the council; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26430/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Darragh O'Brien

Ceist:

750. Deputy Darragh O'Brien asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if Fingal County Council will be instructed that if as the draft Castlelands, Balbriggan, development master plan published 7 May 2019 (details supplied) is to be progressed, it must be amended as necessary in order that it is fully aligned with the new eastern and midlands regional spatial and economic strategy as developed within the national planning framework under Project Ireland 2040 and, specifically, to ensure that the plan is aligned comprehensively with the designation of Balbriggan as a small hinterland town that is not suitable for and is not to receive high-density and-or high-rise development; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26431/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Darragh O'Brien

Ceist:

751. Deputy Darragh O'Brien asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if he will request Fingal County Council to provide a copy of all internal correspondence and relevant planning documentation written and email between the planning division and the Our Balbriggan project of the council from the inception of the project to date in respect of the draft Castlelands, Balbriggan, development master plan published on 7 May 2019 (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26432/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 734 to 736, inclusive, and 749 to 751, inclusive, together.

Masterplans are not statutory plans in their own right. Accordingly, such plans, and the information sought in relation to the Castlelands Masterplan in particular, are a matter for the local planning authority and, as Minister, I have no direct function in the adjudication of the masterplan preparation process.

The preparation of the Castlelands Masterplan within Balbriggan is a requirement of the Fingal County Development Plan 2017-2023, for lands that are primarily subject to a zoning objective to “Provide for new residential communities, subject to the provision of the necessary social and physical infrastructure.” This requirement is for one of a total of eight such Masterplan areas within Balbriggan under the Fingal County Development Plan.

While Masterplans are not formal statutory development plans under the Planning and Development Act 2000 (as amended), they may be prepared in order to set out further technical detail in respect of zoned amenity and/or development lands, to inform future planning applications and/or ‘Part 8’ Local authority consent processes.

Proposals for development set out in Masterplans further to a County Development Plan are required to be consistent with national and regional development objectives and any relevant specific planning policy requirements set out in ministerial guidance. As part of a masterplan consultation process, a planning authority may invite the submissions and observations of interested parties, and this may inform the outcome of the masterplan process.

In cases where a masterplan informs the preparation of a planning application in full or in part, the assessment of any subsequent planning applications pursuant to that masterplan, is the stage of the development process at which the intended outcome of the masterplan, in full or in part, is subject to formal determination by the local planning authority or An Bord Pleanála.

The non-statutory nature of masterplans means that the local planning authority or An Bord Pleanála are not required to be bound by all of the objectives of a masterplan in the determination of a planning application. This is particularly relevant where a masterplan is deemed to be not consistent with national and regional development objectives or any relevant specific planning policy requirements set out in Ministerial guidance.

It remains the right of interested parties to make a submission in respect of any planning application on lands subject to a masterplan and to also make a subsequent appeal to An Bord Pleanála (if submissions have been made to the local authority in respect of the relevant planning application). In the case of strategic housing development (also known as ‘SHD’), for proposals with more than 100 dwellings, there is also provision for submissions to be made by any interested party to An Bord Pleanála as part of the application process.

Under Section 30 of the Planning and Development Act 2000 (as amended), as Minister, I am specifically precluded from exercising power or control in relation to any particular case with which a planning authority or An Bord Pleanála is or may be concerned.

Urban Renewal Schemes

Ceisteanna (737)

Dara Calleary

Ceist:

737. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the status of a project (details supplied) as of 17 June 2019; when the first tranche of funding will issue to Mayo County Council; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26207/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

In 2018, bids were invited from public bodies for funding support from the Urban Regeneration and Development Fund (URDF) either under Category A for projects that were proposed as being ready to be initiated or under Category B as projects that required further consideration and development.

On 26 November 2018, initial URDF support of €100m was provisionally allocated to a total of 88 projects under the first call for proposals. As part of this first tranche of approvals, Mayo County Council was provisionally awarded URDF support of €3,217,000 towards their proposal for the advancement of the Ballina Innovation Quarter, which includes the Military Barracks.

Since last November’s announcement, my Department has engaged with a large number of the successful applicants to discuss the details of their proposals, the planned advancement of projects and to establish the level of related URDF funding demands expected to arise for 2019 and beyond.

In this regard, my Department has recently written to Mayo County Council in connection with the project in question and a meeting with the Council to discuss the matter will be scheduled shortly.

Local Authority Functions

Ceisteanna (738)

Dara Calleary

Ceist:

738. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number and name of designated municipal districts in County Mayo; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26250/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

The number and names of designated municipal districts in County Mayo are outlined in the Local Electoral Area Boundary Committee (No.1) report which was published in June 2018 and which is available on my Department's website at the following link:

https://www.housing.gov.ie/sites/default/files/publications/files/local_electoral_area_boundary_committee_no.1_report_2018.pdf

In the case of Mayo, the recommended municipal district configuration was accepted in full and is outlined in the following table.

Municipal Districts

Number of members

Ballina

6

Castlebar

7

Claremorris-Swinford

10

Westport-Belmullet

7

Strategic Infrastructure Provision

Ceisteanna (739)

Dara Calleary

Ceist:

739. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the status as of 14 June 2019 of the proposed strategic development zone, SDZ, for Ireland West Airport, Knock; the extra resources allocated to Mayo County Council to complete same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26251/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

On 30 May 2017, the Government designated 284 hectares lands at Ireland West Airport Knock (IWAK) as a Strategic Development Zone (SDZ) under Section 166 of the Planning and Development Act 2000 (as amended).

On 29 May 2019, the specified development agency, in this case Mayo County Council, published the draft planning scheme for the SDZ for public consultation for six weeks, closing on 12 July 2019, in accordance with Section 169 of the Act.

The Chief Executive of the planning authority is required to submit a report on submissions and observations received during the consultation period, for consideration by the Council no later than 12 weeks after giving notice of the draft planning scheme. Further details are available on Mayo County Council's website at www.mayococo.ie. Following the Council's making of the planning scheme, any person who made submissions or observations in respect of the draft planning scheme may appeal the decision of the planning authority to An Bord Pleanála within four weeks.

Further to determination of the Planning Scheme by An Bord Pleanála, if approved, the planning authority must grant permission for any development which is consistent with the planning scheme, with no further appeal to An Bord Pleanála against the decision of the planning authority.

The preparation of the planning scheme in respect of the IWAK SDZ is a function of the relevant development agency, in this case Mayo County Council, under Section 168 of the Act and it would be inappropriate for me, given the public consultation process currently underway, to comment on the draft scheme. However, I intend to make a submission in my role as statutory consultee, in accordance with the provisions of the Act.

I do not propose to allocate additional resources to Mayo County Council in relation to the process of preparing the SDZ planning scheme outlined above.

Seaweed Harvesting Licences

Ceisteanna (740, 741, 742)

Lisa Chambers

Ceist:

740. Deputy Lisa Chambers asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the status of the granting of seaweed harvesting licences. [26255/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Lisa Chambers

Ceist:

741. Deputy Lisa Chambers asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if he has identified a body to develop and implement a strategy to underpin the development of the wild seaweed sector and the licensing system that was promised in 2018. [26256/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Lisa Chambers

Ceist:

742. Deputy Lisa Chambers asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the process for applying for a licence to harvest seaweed along the coast. [26257/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 740 to 742, inclusive, together.

In June 2018, at the Our Ocean Wealth Summit in Galway, I clarified the interaction between applications for licences to harvest wild seaweed and existing seaweed harvesting rights, which had been the issue which caused my Department to place the existing applications on hold. Since that time, my Department has been engaging with the applicants involved.

The speech which I made at the Our Ocean Wealth Summit, which sets out the position on this matter, is available on my Department's website at the following link:

https://www.housing.gov.ie/water/foreshore/minister-englishs-address-ocean-wealth-summit

With regards to the process for applying for a licence to harvest wild seaweed, there are a variety of factors involved in the processing of applications. Information on the consent process is available on my Department’s website at the following link:

https://www.housing.gov.ie/planning/foreshore/applying-consent/consent-process-explained.

Each application is processed on a case-by-case basis and timelines depend primarily on the applicant in terms of the provision of technical and environmental information and the necessity for my Department to liaise with external expert bodies regarding the application.

The process of identifying a suitable body to take responsibility for the seaweed sector is ongoing and is being considered in the context of the development of legislation that will modernise the regulatory framework for marine planning and development management in the Irish maritime area.

Planning Issues

Ceisteanna (743)

John Lahart

Ceist:

743. Deputy John Lahart asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government his views on the fact that, as a result of the introduction of the fast-track planning application process, master plans compiled by local authorities, such as the one compiled for Citywest in South Dublin County Council, are being bypassed with little or no recourse; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26269/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

In making a decision on an application for permission for Strategic Housing Development (SHD), one of the matters that the Board is required to consider is the report of the relevant planning authority on the proposed development. The report includes the authority’s opinion on the proposed development, a recommendation on whether to grant or refuse permission and the views of the elected members on the proposed development as expressed at a meeting of the Area Committee or Municipal District, where such a meeting has taken place.

Other matters to which the Board has to have regard in making its decision include the proper planning and sustainable development of the area, the development plan, including any relevant local area plan, any submissions or observations received, as well as any relevant Ministerial or Government policies, including any guidelines issued by my Department. In this regard, master plans do not have a formal status analogous to statutory development plans or Local Area Plans.

Planning authorities play a key role in the determination of SHD applications. The pre-application stage of SHD requires the prospective applicant to consult, in the first instance, with the relevant planning authority prior to consulting with the Board. In addition, the Board requires the planning authority’s written opinion on the proposed development in advance of its pre-application consultation with the prospective applicant, and the planning authority’s attendance at any such consultations.

Local Authority Housing Funding

Ceisteanna (744)

Brendan Smith

Ceist:

744. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the funding provided to Cavan and Monaghan county councils in respect of the home loan scheme; when the necessary funding will be put in place to ensure that applications can be processed and finalised without delay; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26314/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

The Rebuilding Ireland home loan (RIHL) scheme was launched on 1 February of last year. The 2018 approved allocation to Cavan County Council was €2.1 million, with €5m for Monaghan County Council.

When the scheme was initially being developed, it was estimated that the drawdown of loans would be approximately €200 million over three years. The RIHL has proven to be more successful than initially anticipated, with some €140 million drawn down to the end of March 2019. The first tranche of funding has not been exhausted.

My Department publishes information on the overall number and value of (i) loan approvals and (ii) loan drawdowns. Information up to the end of Quarter 1 2019, in respect of all local authorities, including Cavan and Monaghan County Councils, is available on the Department's website at the following link:

http://www.housing.gov.ie/housing/statistics/house-prices-loans-and-profile-borrowers/local-authority-loan-activity.

My officials have been engaging with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform since October 2018 when higher lending and drawdown volumes were beginning to materialise.

I informed the Dáil on 29 January 2019 of the scheme’s success and of the need for additional funding and indicated that my Department was in discussions with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform and the Department of Finance with regard to the allocation for 2019.

At all times, the scheme remained open and all local authorities were advised to continue to receive and process applications up to and including the issuing of loans.

My Department has consulted in detail with each Local Authority as to the anticipated demand in its area, and the likely level of approvals expected. This information has been submitted to the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform with request for sanction for additional borrowing by the Housing Finance Agency. The HFA have an ongoing borrowing facility for when sanction is given so that they are in a position to proceed to borrow this second tranche of funding immediately.

The first tranche of funding has not been exhausted, the Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan remains open to new applicants, and local authorities are to continue to receive, process and issue loans.

Local Authority Housing Data

Ceisteanna (745)

Denis Naughten

Ceist:

745. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of local authority houses being leased out by each local authority to older persons in long-term residential care under the fair deal scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26335/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

My Department does not hold the type of detailed information requested.

The administration of the Fair Deal Scheme, which includes an assessment of the assets of the applicant, including their property, is carried out by the HSE.

If a tenant of an individual local authority is accepted into the Fair Deal Scheme, issues relating to their tenancy of that dwelling are a matter for the local authority concerned to consider.

An Bord Pleanála Data

Ceisteanna (746)

Alan Kelly

Ceist:

746. Deputy Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the dates and attendees of each meeting of the implementation group of the organisational review of An Bord Pleanála which was published in 2016; the person that chaired each meeting; and the dates and attendees of each meeting between this group and his Department since the publication of the report. [26360/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

An Organisational Review of An Bord Pleanála was undertaken by an independent expert panel and published in March 2016.

An Implementation Group, comprising representation from my Department and An Bord Pleanála (the Board) was established to oversee the implementation of the expert panel recommendations. The review group is co-chaired by the Principal Officer in the Planning Policy Section of my Department and the Chief Officer of the Board. The Group reports to the Assistant Secretary with responsibility for Planning in my Department and the Chair of the Board.

The Implementation Group published its Terms of Reference and Plan for Implementation in 2016. The Implementation Group has met formally on a number of occasions (18 October 2016, 25 November 2016, 26 January 2017, 22 September 2017 and 22 May 2019) and informally on 18 August 2017, to consider the recommendations across a number of common themes relating to legislative provisions, communications and stakeholder engagement, the Board's role and governance, along with organisational and operational matters. A table detailing dates and attendees is included below. The schedule of meetings also reflects the Board's need to deliver on other reform initiatives outside of the review, particularly the introduction and early operation of the new Strategic Housing Development process in the second half of 2017 and into 2018.

Both my Department and the Board have continued to progress their relevant recommendations between meetings of the group and also through routine engagements which take place on a regular basis to progress a variety of matters including workforce planning, governance and oversight, the Board's Information and Communications Technology project and legislative matters, some of which are relevant to the work which is being undertaken in addressing the organisational review. The impact of the progress made is demonstrated in significant improvements being achieved by the Board in its rate of compliance with the target periods for determination of cases.

A further formal meeting of the Implementation Group will be held in Q3 2019. The membership of the Implementation Group is published in its Terms of Reference which is available on my Department’s website at the following link: https://www.housing.gov.ie/sites/default/files/publications/files/organisational_review_of_abp_implementation_group_-_terms_of_reference_plan_for_implementation_-_final.pdf.

Due to a number of recent staff changes in both organisations, the membership of the review group will be refreshed in advance of the next formal meeting. The Implementation Group will continue its work over the coming months with a view to publishing its final report on implementation by the end of Q3 2019.

Date of meeting

Attendees - DHPLG

Attendees - ABP

18 October 2016

Terry Sheridan (Co-Chair), Niall Cussen, Niamh Drew, Brendan Buggy

Loretta Lambkin (Co-Chair), Rachel Kenny, Gerry Egan

25 November 2016

Terry Sheridan (Co-Chair), Niall Cussen, Niamh Drew, Brendan Buggy

Loretta Lambkin (Co-Chair), Gerry Egan

26 January 2017

Terry Sheridan (Co-Chair), Niall Cussen, Niamh Drew, Brendan Buggy

Loretta Lambkin (Co-Chair), Rachel Kenny, Gerry Egan

22 September 2017

Terry Sheridan (Co-Chair), Niamh Drew

Loretta Lambkin (Co-Chair), Gerry Egan

22 May 2019

Terry Sheridan (Co-Chair), Ciara Gallagher

David Walsh, Loretta Lambkin (Co-Chair),

Freedom of Information Data

Question No. 748 answered with Question No. 733.

Ceisteanna (747)

Jonathan O'Brien

Ceist:

747. Deputy Jonathan O'Brien asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of freedom of information requests granted, part granted, refused, transferred to an appropriate body, withdrawn or handled outside freedom of information in 2018, in tabular form. [26395/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

The statistical breakdown of Freedom of Information requests received and processed by my Department in 2018 is set out in the following table.

Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government Freedom of Information Requests - 2018

Cases Brought Forward from 2017

Total Received from 01/01/2018

Requests Granted

Requests Part-Granted

Requests Refused

Requests Transferred

Requests Withdrawn/ Lapsed/ Handled Outside FOI

Requests Live at 31/12/2018

22

455

131

119

121

1

80

25

Question No. 748 answered with Question No. 733.