Water Supply

Ceisteanna (2942)

Willie O'Dea

Ceist:

2942. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government when funding will be released for the new private well grants scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33590/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

There is a grant currently available, which is funded by my Department through the local authorities, for the provision or necessary improvement of an individual water supply in a house. This is more commonly called the individual or private wells grant. The grant, subject to certain conditions, assists households dependent on these supplies with the costs incurred in providing such a supply of water for domestic purposes or rectifying serious deficiencies with an existing supply.

Information on this grant is available from local authorities and from my Department's website at the following link:

https://www.housing.gov.ie/water/water-services/rural-water-programme/private-wells

Earlier this year I announced details of the new Multi-annual Rural Water Programme 2019-2021. This included an improved funding scheme for individual wells.

The composition of the new multi-annual programme is based on recommendations from the Working Group that I established in April 2018 to conduct a review of investment needs and rural water services. The changes that I have approved to the individual wells grant scheme are, as follows:

- A maximum grant for rehabilitation works of €3,000, which represents an increase of 47% on the current maximum grant amount;

- Where the local authority agrees that the most appropriate solution is to provide a new well, the maximum grant payable would be €5,000;

- Recognising the role of the grant in improving quality, the water quality treatment element (typically filtration and UV filtration) will qualify for 100% funding up to a maximum of €1,000;

- Up to 85% of other costs would be met, subject to the total combined maximum costs of €3,000 for well rehabilitation or €5,000 for a new well;

- For clarity, applicants would not be able to avail of both grant amounts, so they would not be able to avail of €3,000 for well rehabilitation as well as the €5,000 for a new well.

Work is at an advanced stage of development for the new scheme. I expect that the process will be completed shortly when the necessary regulations dealing with the financial assistance arrangements and related administrative matters are put in place. This will enable a circular letter, terms and conditions, guidance and the application form to issue to local authorities shortly thereafter.

Planning Issues

Ceisteanna (2943)

Catherine Martin

Ceist:

2943. Deputy Catherine Martin asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the person he has appointed to the group to review the operation and effectiveness of the strategic housing development provisions of the planning code; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33782/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

As part of the actions under the Government's Rebuilding Ireland Action Plan on Housing and Homelessness, the Planning and Development (Housing) and Residential Tenancies Act 2016 (the Act) introduced new streamlined arrangements to enable planning applications for strategic housing developments (SHDs) of 100 housing units or more or student accommodation or shared accommodation developments of 200 bed spaces or more, to be made directly to An Bord Pleanála for determination.

The primary purpose of the SHD arrangements is to support efficiency in the planning decision-making process, providing greater certainty for developers in terms of the timeframes within which proposals for such developments can be determined, while also fully respecting the need to ensure proper planning and sustainable development, the statutory requirements for consultation and consideration of observations submitted.

The Act provides that the SHD arrangements apply for an initial period until the end of 2019. Section 4(2)(a) of the Act provides that not later than 30 October 2019, the Minister shall review the operation and effectiveness of the SHD arrangements and lay before both Houses of the Oireachtas a report of the conclusions of the review.

In this regard, I have established a Review Group to review the operation and effectiveness of the SHD provisions and to report back to me by end September 2019. The membership of the Review Group is as follows:

- Mr. John Martin, former Principal Planning Adviser in my Department (Chairperson):-

- Mr. David Silke, Housing Agency,

- Mr. David O’Connor, former Chief Executive, Fingal County Council, and

- Mr. Liam Conneally, Director of Services, Clare County Council, (nominated by the County and City Management Association).

A public consultation on the review process is currently ongoing and information is available on my Department's website at the following link:

https://www.housing.gov.ie/planning/legislation/public-consultation-review-planning-provisions-regarding-strategic-housing .

The Review Group is expected to submit its report to me by the end of September 2019. Following the review, section 4(2)(b) of the Act provides that the SHD arrangements may be extended by Ministerial Order for a further limited period of 2 years, up to the end of 2021 which coincides with the timeframe of Rebuilding Ireland.

Homeless Persons Data

Ceisteanna (2944)

Danny Healy-Rae

Ceist:

2944. Deputy Danny Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of persons classed as homeless; the steps being taken to ensure such persons are suitably housed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33816/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

My Department publishes a monthly report on homelessness. The monthly report is based on data provided by housing authorities and produced through the Pathway Accommodation & Support System (PASS). The report captures details of individuals utilising State-funded emergency accommodation arrangements that are overseen by housing authorities. The most recent report is for May 2019 and showed that there were 6,504 adults and 3,749 associated dependents in emergency accommodation in that month. The May 2019 monthly report is available on my Department’s website at the following link: https://www.housing.gov.ie/housing/homelessness/other/homelessness-data

Addressing homelessness is a priority for the Government. In 2016, the Government published the Rebuilding Ireland Action Plan on Housing and Homelessness. Rebuilding Ireland is designed to significantly increase the supply of social housing by 50,000 homes in the period to 2021, double the output of overall housing to at least 25,000 homes per annum by 2020, support all tenure types (social, private and rental), and tackle homelessness comprehensively. The Plan is underpinned by over €6 billion in funding. By the end of Quarter 1 2019, 78,000 households had been supported under Rebuilding Ireland and this figure is expected to reach 100,000 by the end of 2019.

The Government has increased the budget available to local authorities to deliver homeless services to €146m in 2019, an increase of over 25% on the 2018 allocation. Local authorities and their service delivery partners work with households experiencing homelessness to identify and secure exits from emergency accommodation to independent tenancies, within the shortest possible timeframe. Rebuilding Ireland is delivering very significant results in supporting exits from homelessness. In 2018, 5,135 adults exited homelessness into independent tenancies, an 8.6% increase on 2017. Securing housing solutions for all households experiencing homelessness will continue to be a priority for my Department.

Childcare Services Provision

Ceisteanna (2945)

Kathleen Funchion

Ceist:

2945. Deputy Kathleen Funchion asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if his attention has been drawn to an issue (details supplied) regarding the roll out of the national childcare service; the details of the discussions that have taken place with the Department of Children and Youth Affairs on the issue; the reason private schools are exempt from rates and private early learning facilities are not; the steps he will take to address this anomaly; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33850/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

The Commissioner of Valuation is independent in the exercise of his duties under the Valuation Act 2001, as amended, and the making of valuations for rating purposes is his sole responsibility. As Minister, I have no function in decisions in this regard.

In general, the Valuation Act 2001, as amended by the Valuation (Amendment) Act 2015, maintains the long-standing position that properties, including private schools and private childcare facilities such as play schools, pre-schools, crèches and Montessori schools, that are established for commercial purposes are liable for rates.

Schedule 3 of the Act outlines relevant property for rating unless expressly exempted under Schedule 4. Such exempt buildings would principally include those used for public worship, education and health care provided on a not-for-profit basis, and charitable purposes.

The Acts are quite specific about the range of exemptions that can be allowed by the Commissioner, who has no discretionary latitude to grant exemptions not covered by Schedule 4. I understand that as a matter of course, the Valuation Office examines all claimant cases on their individual merits by reference to the relevant statutory provisions.

Regarding the payment of rates by individual ratepayers, the Deputy will be aware that under Irish law there is a distinct separation of function between the valuation of rateable property and the setting and collection of commercial rates. The amount of rates payable by a ratepayer in any calendar year is a product of the valuation set by the Valuation Office multiplied by the Annual Rate on Valuation (ARV) decided annually by the elected members of the local authority. The latter is a reserved function of the elected members and the Commissioner of Valuation has no function in this regard.

There are a number of avenues of redress for an occupier of rateable property who is dissatisfied with a determination of valuation made under the provisions of the Valuation Acts 2001-2015. Firstly, before a determination is made, there is a right to make representations to the Valuation Office in relation to a proposed valuation. Later in the process, if the occupier is still dissatisfied with the determination, there is a right of appeal to the Valuation Tribunal which is an independent body set up for the purpose of hearing appeals against determinations of the Valuation Office. There is also a right of appeal to the Higher Courts on a point of law.

European Court of Justice Rulings

Ceisteanna (2946)

Danny Healy-Rae

Ceist:

2946. Deputy Danny Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the status of the working group that was established to examine the EU Flemish Decree ruling; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33854/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

Following engagement between the European Commission and my Department regarding the European Court of Justice ruling in the "Flemish Decree" case, a working group was established to review and, where necessary, recommend changes to the 2005 Planning Guidelines on Sustainable Rural Housing, issued under section 28 of the Planning and Development Act 2000, as amended. The working group comprises senior officials from the Planning Division of my Department and senior officials from the Planning Divisions of local authorities, nominated by the local government sector.

Taking account of the engagement with the European Commission regarding revisions to the 2005 Rural Housing Guidelines and subject to the completion of the ongoing deliberations by the working group, I will be in a position to finalise and issue to planning authorities revisions to the 2005 Guidelines that take account of the relevant European Court of Justice judgment.

Tenant Purchase Scheme Review

Ceisteanna (2947)

Danny Healy-Rae

Ceist:

2947. Deputy Danny Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government when the review of the tenant purchase scheme commenced; when the review of the scheme will be completed in view of the fact the scheme is perceived as not working for 80 % of applicants; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33915/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

The Housing (Sale of Local Authority Houses) Regulations 2015 set 1 January 2016 as the commencement date for the introduction of the Tenant (Incremental) Purchase Scheme for existing local authority houses. The Scheme is open to eligible tenants, including joint tenants, of local authority houses that are available for sale under the Scheme. To be eligible, tenants must meet certain criteria, including having a minimum reckonable income of €15,000 per annum and having been in receipt of social housing support for at least one year.

In line with the commitment given in the Government's Rebuilding Ireland Action Plan on Housing and Homelessness, a review of the operation of the first 12 months of the Tenant (Incremental) Purchase Scheme was commenced in quarter 1 of 2017. The review process was based on data collected from the 31 local authorities that operate the scheme as well as submissions through a public consultation exercise. The review has been completed and a full report has been prepared setting out findings and recommendations.

Following consideration of a number of implementation issues arising, I expect to be in a position to publish the Review shortly. I intend to bring a comprehensive package of social housing reform measures to Government in the near future and the relevant recommendations made in the Review of the Tenant Purchase Scheme will be progressed as part of that process.

Irish Water

Ceisteanna (2948, 2949)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

2948. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the length of time it is taking Irish Water to process applications for connections. [33936/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Robert Troy

Ceist:

2949. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the person or body that approved the new fee structure Irish Water is charging for new connections; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33935/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 2948 and 2949 together.

The Water Services (No. 2) Act 2013 (as amended) assigns responsibility for the independent economic regulation of the water sector to the Commission for Regulation of Utilities (CRU). The CRU is required to perform its functions in a manner that best serves the interests of customers of Irish Water.

The Act further provides that Irish Water shall collect charges from customers in receipt of water services provided by it in accordance with a water charges plan, to be approved by the CRU. Section 22(5) of the Act provides that a water charges plan may provide for charges in respect of the provision of services connections to premises.

On this basis, I understand that the CRU, informed by a multi-stage public consultation process, published its Decision Paper on Irish Water’s Proposed Connection Charging Policy on 18 December 2018 and that this policy came into effect on 1 April 2019. The relevant public consultation documentation continues to be publicly available on the CRU’s website and the Decision Paper in particular can be accessed at the following weblink -

https://www.cru.ie/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/CRU18262-CRU-Decision-on-Irish-Waters-Connection-Policy.pdf.

This document details the reasoning behind key aspects of the CRU’s decision and sets out further actions that the CRU has directed must be taken in response to a number of stakeholder concerns, which include addressing the timeframe faced by customers seeking to obtain a connection quotation.

As outlined above, the statutory functions in relation to these matters have been assigned to Irish Water and the CRU and I, as Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government, do not have any role in determining connection charging policy.

It may also be helpful to note that 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.

Approved Housing Bodies

Ceisteanna (2950, 2955)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

2950. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the process and stages an AHB in conjunction with the local authority must go through when delivering a turnkey development. [33940/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Robert Troy

Ceist:

2955. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the timeframe and level of engagement his Department had with a body (details supplied) and Westmeath County Council in relation to the provision of 32 homes at a site. [33952/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 2950 and 2955 together.

Under the Government's Rebuilding Ireland Action Plan on Housing and Homelessness, 50,000 new social housing homes are to be delivered by 2021, through local authorities and approved housing bodies (AHBs), using a range of funding streams.

Market conditions in many cases mean that turnkey arrangements are highly appropriate in terms of delivery timescale and cost. Turnkeys are, in the main, homes built by developers on private land under contract for local authorities or AHBs. They are a good source of social housing that can often be delivered quickly, and often in areas where the local authority does not have land. All local authorities actively consider this source in addition to all other delivery mechanisms. These can be projects that are unbuilt but have planning permission in place, that may be unfinished/partially built/under construction, or largely completed but with ‘finishing out’ works to be done.

The Department publishes information relating to social housing construction projects in a quarterly Construction Status Report. This report is a full compendium of live local authority and AHB new-build activity over the period 2016-2021 and includes a table clearly outlining data on all build delivery streams across all local authority areas.

All funding provided to AHBs to support this activity is made available by my Department through local authorities. Indeed, local authorities, as the statutory housing authorities, are the decision makers in relation to the suitability of a proposed social housing project. For example, local authorities are required to ensure that any project appropriately reflects the housing need in that particular area and that there is sufficient need in the area to support the units over time; the properties comply with relevant standards and regulatory requirements; and the objectives of creating and maintaining sustainable communities are being met.

In recent years, the main source of funding to AHBs for social housing delivery, including turnkey projects, is through borrowings and support from local authorities through the Capital Advance Leasing Facility (CALF) and Payment and Availability (P&A) programme. The loan (capital advance) is available up to a maximum of 30% of the value of the acquisition or construction of the dwellings and it is repayable at the end of the term which can be up to 30 years. The balance of the investment required is borrowed separately by the AHB, and in the main, from the Housing Finance Agency (HFA). CALF is targeted at projects where the AHBs does not have sufficient financial capacity in the initial years of a loan to service the debt or may require some up-front capital to secure the lending in the first place. AHBs can only avail of this funding if they enter into a P&A agreement with the local authority for the same period, making the relevant properties available for social housing - providing accommodation for people on the relevant local authority’s waiting list, for the same period of time.

Applications for P&A/CALF funding are made to local authorities by AHBs and normally consist of a completed application form and a financial model showing the capital cost, income and operational costs projected over the P&A term sought, and other relevant supporting documentation.

As with all exchequer-supported projects, my Department as sanctioning authority, assesses each project proposal for suitability as determined by the local authority, value for money and compliance with the various requirements of the funding programme. In the case of CALF applications, the Housing Agency undertakes an independent assessment of the financial aspects of the application.

Detailed approval, payment and performance monitoring arrangements are in place across all Departmental funding arrangements, including those supporting AHB activity. In particular, approvals are undertaken in a defined and robust way consistent with the Public Spending Code and the Capital Works Management Framework; letters of sanction include detailed terms and conditions relating to payments, and onward payments to AHBs. In the case of CALF and P&A supported projects, once approved, the local authority then enters into two agreements with the AHB, as follows:

- The P&A Agreement that will cover the conditions under which the properties will be made available for the term of the agreement; and

- A Capital Advance Agreement (CAA) that stipulates the terms and conditions on which the money is being made available from the State and also stipulates the repayment conditions.

It should be noted that all payments are made to AHBs by local authorities in accordance with the various approval letters, and my Department recoups these costs to local authorities.

Accelerated CALF payments may also be approved by the Department for projects for including turnkey developments. The accelerated CALF can be applied to facilitate site purchases or stage payments to a developer, deposits for properties under construction or for sale and to facilitate the acquisition of homes requiring works, which necessitate access to the properties. In such cases, the milestones may vary depending on the requirements of the project and will be set out by my Department in its approval letter. The local authority will seek an acknowledgement of the associated risk along with details on any mitigation measures to be taken by the AHB.

Details of turnkey projects being advanced by AHBs under the CALF scheme as at the end Q1 2019 are available at the following link:

http://rebuildingireland.ie/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/CSR-Q1-2019-1.pdf.

Once projects receive funding approved status, they will appear on the quarterly Construction Status Report referenced in the link above. The project referred to has not been submitted to my Department at this stage. In order to be of assistance to the Deputy, my Department has made further enquiries and have been informed that the AHB are in advanced discussions with the local authority regarding the project, in line with the CALF process.

Approved Housing Bodies

Ceisteanna (2951)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

2951. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the body that funds approved housing bodies; and the stage they require departmental approval to proceed. [33941/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

In order to be eligible for funding for the provision of social housing, housing bodies must be registered as Approved Housing Bodies (AHBs) in accordance with Section 6 of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1992.

To become an AHB, a body must comply with a range of criteria which include being an independent, not-for-profit organisation. Details on how to apply for approved status can be found on my Department's website at the following link:

http://www.housing.gov.ie/housing/social-housing/voluntary-and-cooperative-housing/approved-housing-bodies-AHBs.

There are a range of funding and delivery mechanisms available to local authorities to deliver social housing supports in partnership with AHBs through capital funding and social housing current expenditure funding. The funding under these programmes is provided directly to local authorities who, in turn, advance the funding to AHBs, as appropriate.

The oversight of AHBs is currently conducted through the Voluntary Regulation Code (VRC), "Building for the Future, A Voluntary Regulation Code for Approved Housing Bodies in Ireland". The VRC is overseen by the Interim Regulation Committee (IRC), based in the Housing Agency. I will shortly be publishing legislation to introduce a new statutory system of regulation for the AHB sector.

Since the Code was put in place, any AHB applying for housing funding must furnish proof of compliance with the Voluntary Code. Only those AHBs that have undergone a satisfactory assessment as part of the annual assessment process by the Regulation Office are considered eligible for funding for the provision of social housing.

Social and Affordable Housing Data

Ceisteanna (2952)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

2952. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of schemes approved by county since the roll out of the turnkey development scheme; if there are restrictions in the number which can be provided; and if there is a requirement to adhere to social and affordable and private mix in circumstances in which a turnkey development forms part of an existing estate. [33942/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

My Department publishes status reports on a quarterly basis, of all social housing construction schemes for each local authority area under Rebuilding Ireland. The most recent of these reports covers the period up to the end of March 2019, and contains information on the progress of 7,800 new social homes being delivered by local authorities through turnkey arrangements, which are currently approved and progressing through planning, design and construction, as well as homes delivered to end March 2019. This report is available on the Rebuilding Ireland website at the following link:

http://rebuildingireland.ie/news/minister-murphy-publishes-social-housing-construction-status-report-for-q1-2019/.

As housing authorities, our local authorities are responsible for the identification of the social housing need in their area and for the development of appropriate responses to this need, while supporting sustainable communities. There is no prescribed maximum scale or size for new social housing developments via turnkey arrangements. Turnkeys have been used for social housing developments under previous housing programmes and have been a beneficial vehicle for delivering high quality new social homes, particularly where local authorities may not own land.

In all new housing projects, whether developed by local authorities or approved housing bodies, the scale and approach to the development is dependent on the precise circumstances and location of the project and local authorities are best positioned to assess this, in line with guidance provided by my Department through the publication 'Quality Housing for Sustainable Communities', which is available on my Department's website at the following link: https://www.housing.gov.ie/sites/default/files/migrated-files/en/Publications/DevelopmentandHousing/Housing/FileDownLoad%2C1979%2Cen.pdf.

Social and Affordable Housing

Ceisteanna (2953, 2986)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

2953. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government when the affordable housing scheme will be open to applicants. [33943/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire

Ceist:

2986. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of affordable houses built under an affordable housing scheme which would not include standard local authority housing, HAP or rent supplement in 2017, 2018 and to date in 2019 by scheme. [34534/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 2953 and 2986 together.

In June 2018, I commenced Part 5 of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009, which now places affordable housing on a statutory basis.

The new affordable housing for purchase scheme replaces the time-limited claw-back which applied under the various previous affordable housing schemes. Under this scheme, a discount of up to 40% may be provided by the local authority to the prospective purchaser of an affordable home. The local authority will retain a charge equivalent to the discount, and the household must repay the charge at re-sale or during the charged period. The scheme applies to new homes on local authority land, and is targeted at low to middle-income households. The equity charge will be repaid by the purchaser into a new Affordable Dwellings Fund, which will be administered by the Housing Finance Agency and used to fund more affordable housing.

One of the mechanisms available to local authorities to help them deliver affordable housing options is the Serviced Site Fund (SSF). Under the SSF, €310 million is being made available over a three year period, from 2019 to 2021, to facilitate the delivery of infrastructure intended to support the delivery of approximately 6,000 affordable homes.

The first call for proposals under the SSF in June 2018 was targeted at 11 local authorities, where it was identified that the greatest affordability pressures exist. I issued approval in principle in December 2018 for funding for 10 infrastructure projects in Dublin and Cork with €43 million funding, which will support the delivery of 1,400 affordable homes. The overall cost and timing of delivery for these projects is contingent upon the completion of planning and procurement in the first instance, and local authorities are working to achieve delivery as quickly as possible.

Following the first call under the SSF, and in order to target affordable interventions, local authorities were asked to complete financial/economic assessments of each of their sites to assess whether the provision of affordable homes is economically viable. Local authorities were also asked to assess the broader housing affordability within their area.

A second call for proposals under the SSF issued to 19 local authorities based on the aforementioned economic assessments. The closing date for returns was 17 May 2019 and 31 submissions were received from 15 local authorities. These are currently being assessed by my Department and I intend to issue approvals under this second call in the coming weeks.

With regards to applying for affordable housing, information on individual schemes will be made available on the Rebuilding Ireland Website, http://rebuildingireland.ie/, as well as local authority websites, as the schemes are progressed.

In addition to the SSF, a key initiative of the Rebuilding Ireland Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness is the Local Infrastructure Housing Activation Fund (LIHAF). LIHAF is primarily designed to fund the provision of public off-site infrastructure to relieve critical infrastructure blockages and enable housing developments to be built at scale and in key areas. Funding of €200m was allocated under LIHAF for 30 approved infrastructure projects to support the delivery of approximately 20,000 new homes, approximately 6,000 of which would be provided with a reduction on open market prices. The bulk of these homes should be delivered by end 2021. To date, a total of some €21.7m of the Exchequer element of LIHAF funding has been drawn-down by local authorities.

The work of the Land Development Agency will also be of crucial importance in terms of delivering more affordable housing. The initial portfolio of sites that the Agency has access to will have the potential, over the short to medium term, to deliver 3,000 affordable homes in line with the Government policy of achieving 30% affordable housing on State lands generally.

Furthermore, a new Cost Rental initiative is currently being developed, where the rents charged are limited to covering the cost of delivering, managing, and maintaining the homes. It aims to offer moderate-income households the choice of a more affordable and stable form of rental tenure. A Cost Rental Working Group has been convened to develop an overall national policy and approach to delivery. The European Investment Bank has been engaged on a research project to support my Department in its work and help identify the optimum operational and financial model for Cost Rental in Ireland. In addition, the Department is co-ordinating with a number of bodies to progress Cost Rental delivery, including the Land Development Agency (LDA), which is examining the potential to deliver Cost Rental homes at scale from its land portfolio and the broader State land bank. Two Cost Rental pilot projects are currently in development at Enniskerry Road, in Dun Laoghaire Rathdown, and St. Michael’s Estate, in Inchicore, with construction commencing at the Enniskerry Road site at the end of June.

These schemes will complement other key Government affordability initiatives, such as the Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan and the Help to Buy Scheme, which have supported some 13,000 households.

Approved Housing Bodies

Question No. 2955 answered with Question No. 2950.

Ceisteanna (2954)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

2954. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government his plans to change regulations to facilitate an approved housing body being able to provide affordable homes. [33944/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

In June 2018, I commenced Part 5 of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009, which now places an affordable housing scheme on a statutory basis.

I signed regulations in respect of the making of Schemes of Priority on 12 March 2019 and these were issued to local authorities on 22 March 2019. The purpose of a Scheme of Priority is to set out the affordable purchase arrangements at local authority level. This includes the methodology that will be applied to determine the order of priority to be accorded to eligible households where the demand for such affordable dwellings exceeds the number available.

Part 5 of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 2009 does not explicitly refer to Approved Housing Bodies in the provision of affordable homes. However, Section 79 (2) (a) of the said Act states that a housing authority may enter into an arrangement with an approved body for the purpose of providing affordable homes within the terms of the Act to eligible households.

It should also be noted that Approved Housing Bodies are in no way precluded from providing homes independent of the statutory affordable purchase scheme and at prices they may consider both viable and affordable.

Question No. 2955 answered with Question No. 2950.

Wind Energy Guidelines

Ceisteanna (2956, 2997)

Michael Moynihan

Ceist:

2956. Deputy Michael Moynihan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government when the new planning guidelines for wind farms will be published; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33970/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

2997. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the status of the publication of wind turbine setback guidelines; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34648/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 2956 and 2997 together.

My Department is currently undertaking a focused review of the 2006 Wind Energy Development Guidelines in line with the “preferred draft approach” which was announced in June 2017 by the then Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government, in conjunction with the then Minister for Communications, Climate Action and the Environment. The review is addressing a number of key aspects including sound or noise, visual amenity setback distances, shadow flicker, community obligation, community dividend and grid connections.

As part of the overall review, a strategic environmental assessment (SEA) is being undertaken on the revised Guidelines before they come into effect, in accordance with the requirements of EU Directive 2001/24/EC on the assessment of the effects of certain plans and programmes on the environment, otherwise known as the SEA Directive. SEA is a process by which environmental considerations are required to be fully integrated into the preparation of plans and programmes which act as frameworks for development consent, prior to their final adoption, with public consultation as part of that process.

While the revised draft guidelines had been expected to be published in Quarter 1 2019, some delays to the planned schedule arose, due to the recent publication of updated World Health Organisation (WHO) noise standards and the need to focus on certain Brexit-related planning issues.

As part of the SEA process, there will shortly be an 8-week public consultation on the revised draft Guidelines, together with the comprehensive environmental report. Finalised Guidelines will be prepared following detailed analysis and consideration of the submissions received during the consultation phase, and the conclusion of the SEA process. My Department will aim to commence the public consultation later in Q3 2019.

When finalised, the revised Guidelines will be issued under section 28 of the Planning and Development Act 2000, as amended. Planning authorities and, where applicable, An Bord Pleanála must have regard to guidelines issued under section 28 in the performance of their functions generally under the Planning Acts. In the meantime, the current 2006 Wind Energy Development Guidelines remain in force.

Local Authority Housing Data

Ceisteanna (2957)

Fiona O'Loughlin

Ceist:

2957. Deputy Fiona O'Loughlin asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of houses built by local authorities in counties Kildare and Laois in each of the years 2013 to 2018 and to date in 2019; the number planned to be built in 2020; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34012/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

Details in relation to social housing new build delivery by local authorities, including Kildare and Laois, for the period 2013 to end March 2019, are published on my Department's website at the following link: https://www.housing.gov.ie/housing/social-housing/social-and-affordble/overall-social-housing-provision.

My Department also publishes status reports on a quarterly basis, of all social housing construction schemes for each local authority area. The most recent of these reports covers the period up to the end of March 2019, and contains information on the progress of over 20,300 new social homes, which are currently approved and progressing through planning, design and construction, as well as homes delivered to end March 2019. This report is available on the Rebuilding Ireland website at the following link: http://rebuildingireland.ie/news/minister-murphy-publishes-social-housing-construction-status-report-for-q1-2019/.

National social housing delivery targets have been set under Rebuilding Ireland for the period to 2021. The 2019 build targets, along with 2018-2021 overall social housing targets, on a local authority basis across all delivery streams, can be found on the Rebuilding Ireland website at the following link: http://rebuildingireland.ie/news/social-housing-targets-2019/.

Social and Affordable Housing Data

Ceisteanna (2958)

Fiona O'Loughlin

Ceist:

2958. Deputy Fiona O'Loughlin asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of affordable houses to be provided in County Kildare in 2020; the way in which the scheme will operate; the estimated price of the affordable houses; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34013/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

In June 2018, I commenced Part 5 of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009, which now places affordable housing on a statutory basis. The selection of particular local authority lands and projects for development of homes that will be made available under the Affordable Purchase Scheme is, in the first instance, a matter for the relevant local authority.

The new affordable housing for purchase scheme replaces the time-limited claw-back which applied under the various previous affordable housing schemes. Under the scheme, a discount of up to 40% may be provided by the local authority to the prospective purchaser of an affordable home. The local authority will retain a charge equivalent to the discount, and the household must repay the charge at re-sale or during the charged period. The scheme applies to new homes on local authority land, and is targeted at low to middle-income households. The equity charge will be repaid by the purchaser into a new Affordable Dwellings Fund, which will be administered by the Housing Finance Agency and used to fund more affordable housing.

One of the mechanisms that Government had made available to local authorities to help them deliver affordable housing options is the Serviced Site Fund (SSF). Under the SSF, €310 million is being made available over a three year period, from 2019 to 2021, to support the delivery of infrastructure on local authority sites, which will deliver over 6,000 affordable homes.

The first call for proposals under the SSF in June 2018 was targeted at 11 local authorities, including Kildare County Council, where it was identified that the greatest affordability pressures exist. I issued approval in principle in December 2018 for funding for 10 infrastructure projects in Dublin and Cork with €43 million funding, which will support the delivery of 1,400 affordable homes. Details of projects receiving funding approval in principle under the first call are set out in the following table.

List of projects approved under 1st SSF call

LA

Project/Location

Total Provisional Cost of Proposal

Provisional Exchequer Grant Amount

Provisional LA Contribution

Affordable Housing Potential

LA

Project/ Location

Total Provisional Cost of Proposal

Provisional Exchequer Grant Amount

Provisional LA Contribution

Affordable Housing Potential

Cork Co

Glanmire

€1,500,000

€1,335,000

€165,000

20

Cork City

Boherboy Road

€4,968,366

€4,421,846

€546,520

103

Cork City

Kilmore Road, Churchfield

€1,410,551

€1,255,390

€155,160

21

Dub City

Cherry Orchard

€7,645,415

€6,804,419

€840,996

183

Dub City

Balbutcher, Ballymun

€4,135,351

€3,680,462

€454,889

74

Dub City

Sillogue, Ballymun

€3,975,000

€3,537,750

€437,250

83

DLR

Enniskerry Road

€4,537,576

€4,038,443

€499,133

50

Fingal

Church Fields, Mulhuddart

€11,000,000

€9,790,000

€1,210,000

753

Fingal

Dun Emer, Lusk

€1,500,000

€1,335,000

€165,000

74

Fingal

Hackettstown, Skerries

€2,198,667

€1,956,814

€241,853

49

Total

€42,870,926

€38,155,124

€4,715,801

1,410

The overall cost and timing of delivery for these projects is contingent upon the completion of planning and procurement in the first instance, and local authorities are working to achieve delivery as quickly as possible.

Following the first call under the SSF, and in order to target affordable interventions, local authorities were asked to complete financial/economic assessments of each of their sites to assess whether the provision of affordable homes is economically viable. Local authorities were also asked to assess the broader housing affordability within their area. A second call for proposals under the SSF issued to 19 local authorities, including Kildare County Council, on 9 April 2019, based on the aforementioned economic assessments. The closing date for returns was 17 May 2019 and 30 submissions were received from 15 local authorities, including one submission from Kildare County Council in respect of a site in Ardclough Road with the potential for 10 affordable units. All applications under the second SSF call are currently being assessed by my Department and I intend to issue approvals in the coming weeks.

These schemes will complement other key Government affordability initiatives, such as the Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan and the Help to Buy Scheme, which have supported some 13,000 households.

Irish Water

Ceisteanna (2959)

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

2959. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the status of his engagements with the Office of the Comptroller and Auditor General in the context of audits, inspections and-or financial examinations; if he has given further consideration to include Ervia and Irish Water as a body that will be subject to scrutiny by the C&AG; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34032/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

I refer to the reply to Questions Nos. 242 and 243 of 12 June 2019 which set out the legislative constraints relating to the potential role of the Comptroller and Auditor General (C&AG) with respect to Irish Water.

An Inter-Departmental Steering Group was established earlier this year to oversee and report to the relevant Ministers on the separation of Irish Water from the Ervia Group. Legislative amendments and appropriate accountability arrangements for Irish Water are some of the areas being considered by the Steering Group.

The issue of Irish Water's audit is relevant in the context of the organisation's separation from the Ervia Group. The Steering Group on Separation will consider this issue in the first instance with a view to such proposals being brought to Government in due course. This work will also involve the C&AG and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform in progressing the necessary amendments to the C&AG legislation.

The Water Advisory Body (WAB), established in June 2018, is obliged to advise me on the measures needed to improve the transparency and accountability of Irish Water. The advice of the WAB will be factored into this process.

Irish Water

Ceisteanna (2960)

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

2960. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the contract between Irish Water and a company (details supplied) expired on 22 July 2018; if he has been consulted on the optional extension of that contract that is at its mid-point; if he has been consulted in respect of a request for tenders in respect of services supplied by the company; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34033/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

Since 1 January 2014, Irish Water has statutory responsibility for all aspects of water services planning, delivery and operation at national, regional and local levels.

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.

Local Authority Housing Data

Ceisteanna (2961, 2962)

Niamh Smyth

Ceist:

2961. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of social houses allocated to families in 2018 and for the first six months of 2019 in County Monaghan; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34061/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Niamh Smyth

Ceist:

2962. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of social houses allocated to families in 2018 and for the first six months of 2019 in County Cavan; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34090/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 2961 and 2962 together.

The allocation of social housing support to individual households is a matter for each individual local authority in accordance with the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009, and associated regulations. Accordingly, my Department does not hold the information sought.

Anti-Social Behaviour

Ceisteanna (2963)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

2963. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government his plans to ensure persons adhere to the responsibility not to engage in antisocial behaviour while recognising and supporting that each person has the right to a home; and the action taken to ensure approved housing bodies are adequately sourced to deal with antisocial behaviour; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34176/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

Anti-social behaviour, in general, is a matter for An Garda Síochána.

In relation to anti-social behavior in social housing dwellings, local authorities are responsible, under the Housing Acts 1966-2015, for the management and maintenance of their housing stock and the management of their estates, including taking appropriate measures to counter anti-social behaviour by their tenants. The Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2014 strengthened the powers of housing authorities in relation to securing excluding orders where individuals are engaging in anti-social behaviour in local authority dwellings. Part 2 of that Act put in place a new procedure for securing possession of local authority housing where there are serious breaches of the tenancy agreement. This procedure involves a hearing in the District Court on the merits of the application in disputed cases.

Under the statutory provisions as amended in 2014, the allocation of local authority, Approved Housing Body and Rental Accommodation availability agreement dwellings may be refused or deferred where the authority considers that any member of the household is or has been engaged in anti-social behaviour or that an allocation to that household would not be in the interest of good estate management.

In relation to the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) scheme, the 2014 Act provides that local authorities may refuse to provide, or cease providing, housing assistance in respect of a qualified household where the local authority considers that any household member is or has been engaged in anti-social behaviour. Similarly, the local authority may also refuse to permit a person who proposes to take up or resume residence in a dwelling the subject of housing assistance to enter or be in the dwelling where the local authority considers that the person is or has been engaged in anti-social behaviour. As they are private rental tenancies, the provisions of the Residential Tenancies Acts also apply to tenancies in the RAS and HAP schemes.

The Residential Tenancies Acts 2004-2019 set out the rights and obligations of tenants and landlords in the private rented and the Approved Housing Body sectors. Under section 16(h) of the Residential Tenancies Act 2004, a tenant shall not engage, nor allow their visitors to engage, in anti-social behaviour. Section 17 of the Act defines anti-social behaviour to include behaviour that: constitutes the commission of an offence reasonably likely to affect directly the well-being or welfare of others; could cause fear, danger, injury, damage or loss to certain persons; or persistently prevents or interferes with the peaceful occupation of others in the property or neighbourhood.

Under section 15 of the Act, a landlord owes to each person who could be potentially affected a duty to enforce the tenant’s obligations and section 77 provides that third parties who are directly and adversely affected by tenants engaging in anti-social behaviour may, subject to certain conditions, refer a complaint to the RTB for resolution, where a landlord has failed to enforce their tenant’s obligations. Further information can be obtained on the RTB’s website at www.rtb.ie.

An interim Regulation Committee for the AHB sector was established in 2014 under the auspices of the Housing Agency, which, supported by a Regulation Office based within the Agency, oversees implementation of a voluntary regulation code (VRC) for AHBs.

A Performance Standard was published by the Regulation Office in December 2018, defining and setting the standard for essential service performance by AHBs. Under this Standard, an AHB is expected to have a published policy and procedure for dealing with complaints from tenants and service users. The AHB should seek early resolution to any matter raised and also advise tenants of the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) Dispute Resolution service and their rights. An AHB is required to register all of its tenancies with the RTB.

In addition, an AHB is expected to have published an estate management policy which refers to anti-social behaviour, and sets out the rules designed to create communities that are safe and secure.

Rental Sector

Ceisteanna (2964)

John Curran

Ceist:

2964. Deputy John Curran asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of inspections carried out in the rental sector in 2018 and 2019 to date; the number of non-compliant dwellings at first inspection in 2018 for each of the four Dublin local authorities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34239/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

Detailed information in relation to inspections of private rental accommodation carried out by each local authority since 2005 is available to view on my Department's website at the following link:

https://www.housing.gov.ie/housing/statistics/house-building-and-private-rented/private-housing-market-statistics

Local Authority Housing Data

Ceisteanna (2965)

John Curran

Ceist:

2965. Deputy John Curran asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of social housing completions by each local authority to date in 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34243/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

Statistics on the number of social housing properties constructed, acquired or leased by local authorities to the end of Quarter 1 of 2019, are published on my Department’s website at the following link: https://www.housing.gov.ie/housing/social-housing/social-and-affordble/overall-social-housing-provision. These statistics are updated on a quarterly basis, with similar details for the remaining quarters for 2019 to be published as the year progresses.

Housing Data

Ceisteanna (2966)

John Curran

Ceist:

2966. Deputy John Curran asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of rapid build housing units constructed to date as outlined in action 1 of Rebuilding Ireland; the number of units expected to be completed by the end of 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34244/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

Statistical information in relation to social housing delivery, across all delivery streams, is published on my Department's website at the following link:

https://www.housing.gov.ie/housing/social-housing/social-and-affordble/overall-social-housing-provision.

A more detailed breakdown of build activity on a local authority basis, including rapid delivery, is set out in the Social Housing Construction Status Report (CSR), which is published on a quarterly basis on the Rebuilding Ireland website. The CSR to the end of Quarter 1 2019 is available at the following link:

https://rebuildingireland.ie/news/rebuilding-ireland-progress-report-published-2019-quarter-1/

At the end of 2018, 423 homes had been delivered under the rapid delivery programme, which includes 22 in 2016, 186 in 2017 and 215 in 2018. Since the programme's inception, some 40 projects have been added to the pipeline and will deliver over 1,100 homes in the period to 2021. While no new homes have been delivered under this programme in Q1 2019, some 225 homes are expected to be delivered this year.

My Department is working closely with all local authorities in relation to increasing and accelerating the delivery of a range of social housing programmes and supports, including rapid build methodologies. My Department is also working specifically with Dublin City Council on the establishment of a Design Build Contractor Framework to deliver residential developments through the use of volumetric construction methods. This framework will shortly be available to all local authorities and will open up additional opportunities to deliver volumetric/rapid delivery apartments for social housing use.