Question No. 1986 answered with Question No. 1959.

Housing Issues

Ceisteanna (1987)

Lisa Chambers

Ceist:

1987. Deputy Lisa Chambers asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the amount of funding provided to Mayo County Council for the provision of housing in each of the years 2011 to 2018 and to date in 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36340/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

The funding provided by my Department to Mayo County Council, in respect of the delivery of housing programmes, in each year from 2011 to 2018, and for the first eight months of this year, is set out in the following table.

Year

Total Expenditure € million

2011

11.47

2012

10.53

2013

12.25

2014

11.25

2015

11.45

2016

14.70

2017

15.10

2018

17.97

2019 (to end August)

17.71

Total

122.43

Housing Data

Ceisteanna (1988)

Lisa Chambers

Ceist:

1988. Deputy Lisa Chambers asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of houses added to the stock of Mayo County Council in each of the years 2011 to 2018 and to date in 2019 by as acquired, leased or built and the type of house for each year including the cost; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36341/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

The provision of social housing is, in the first instance, a matter for individual local authorities.

My Department collates statistical information on a quarterly basis from Local Authorities in relation to delivery outputs across all social housing delivery streams. Details on the number of social housing properties constructed or acquired by local authorities, to the end of Quarter 1 2019, are published on my Department’s website at the following link: 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.

Leasing data for Mayo for the years 2011 to 2013, on a cumulative basis, and from 2016 to end Quarter 1 2019 are also available at the above weblink. The number of social housing homes delivered through leasing in Mayo in 2015 was 45 and 31, respectively.

Given the number and type of houses involved, information on the individual costs per property are not readily available but may be available directly from the local authority.

Planning Guidelines

Ceisteanna (1989)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Ceist:

1989. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government when the new rural housing guidelines will be published following the Flemish decree case; the reason for the delay with same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36352/19]

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.

Departmental Correspondence

Ceisteanna (1990)

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

1990. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if he has received emails or letters of concern from staff or former staff of an organisation (details supplied) recently in relation to concerns of allegations of bullying, absenteeism, inappropriate use of funds, lack of governance and other issues; if the concerns were investigated; if so, the actions taken; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36358/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

Under Section 6 of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1992, housing authorities may provide assistance to Approved Housing Bodies (AHBs) for the provision and management of housing accommodation. As Minister, I am empowered to grant approved status to housing bodies for this purpose.

AHBs are, by definition, non-profit, independent legal entities with independent governance structures. Each AHB must have a properly functioning governing body, or board of directors/trustees, which is directly responsible for the commissioning of housing projects and services, the ownership, management and maintenance of dwellings and compliance with all statutory regulations.

The oversight of AHBs is currently conducted through the Voluntary Regulation Code - Building for the Future, A Voluntary Regulation Code for Approved Housing Bodies in Ireland. The Code is overseen by the Interim Regulation Committee (IRC), supported by the Regulation Office, based in the Housing Agency. The organisation referred to has signed up for voluntary regulation since it was first introduced in September 2013.

My Department has recently received correspondence purporting to be from unnamed staff and former staff members of the organisation concerned and this has been referred to the Regulation Office. Subsequently, a response issued from my office to the email address provided. The Regulation Office is currently in engagement with the organisation concerned as part of the assessment process for AHBs. My Department has also written to the organisation concerned emphasising the need for full cooperation with the Regulation Office.

I recently published the Housing (Regulation of Approved Housing Bodies) Bill 2019, which had already completed Oireachtas pre-legislative scrutiny. The Bill provides for the introduction of a new system of statutory regulation of AHBs for the purposes of supporting stronger governance and the financial viability of the sector, with a particular focus on safeguarding the significant public investment being made in the delivery of social housing by AHBs. Similarly, the Bill will provide assurance to tenants, the public and potential investors that the sector is well regulated. Subject to Oireachtas scheduling, it is my intention to progress this important legislation as a matter of priority with a view to enactment by the end of the year.

Environmental Legislation

Ceisteanna (1991)

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

1991. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the target date he is working to for the passing of the marine planning and development management Bill. [36368/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

The target timeframe for the publication of the Marine Planning and Development Management Bill, as set out in the Climate Action Plan to tackle Climate Breakdown, is Q4 2019. Once the legislation is published, it will be a matter for the Oireachtas to consider the timing of its consideration so I cannot be specific on a timeframe in that regard. If the Bill is enacted in due course, it will require further enabling measures post enactment to bring the new regime into operation including the necessary regulations, statutory guidelines and transitional arrangements.

Departmental Funding

Question No. 1993 answered with Question No. 1929.

Ceisteanna (1992)

Kevin O'Keeffe

Ceist:

1992. Deputy Kevin O'Keeffe asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the conditions put in place in respect of funding allocated in recent months to Cork County Council for design and works in respect of a project (details supplied); if a timeframe has been put in place as one of the conditions; and if so, the timeframe. [36434/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

The funding of the maintenance and repair of weirs is not a matter that has fallen within the remit of my Department and it has no specific funding line for such projects. However, I understand that this is a very important project for Cork County Council and the community of Fermoy, in particular.

Given the priority attaching to the project, the matter was considered by the Oireachtas Committee on Public Petitions, on 3rd July last. My Department was represented at the hearing as were the Department of Communications Climate Action and Environment; the Office of Public Works; Cork County Council; Inland Fisheries Ireland; and the National Parks and Wildlife Service.

I understand that there was broad consensus at the hearing that given the cross-cutting nature of the project a co-ordinated approach involving all stakeholders would be the best way to ensure the optimum outcome. To this end, my Department is engaging with other stakeholders in an effort to agree a common approach to funding the project.

For my part, in view of the strategic importance of this project from an economic, social and environmental perspective, and in order to ensure that the project is not delayed any further, I am prepared to make a once off exceptional payment to Cork County Council, from the Local Government Fund, towards the costs of consultancy to bring the project through statutory approval and detailed design. However the appropriate bodies will have to provide funding, in due course, for the costs of any substantive works.

Question No. 1993 answered with Question No. 1929.

Local Authority Housing Maintenance

Ceisteanna (1994, 1995)

Brendan Smith

Ceist:

1994. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if additional funding will be provided in 2019 to local authorities in respect of the maintenance of council housing and the upgrading of vacant council houses to enable them to be refurbished and allocated to tenants; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36437/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Brendan Smith

Ceist:

1995. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if additional funding will be provided in 2019 to Cavan County Council in respect of the maintenance of council housing; if additional funding will be provided to enable the refurbishment of vacant council houses; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36438/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 1994 and 1995 together.

Section 58 of the Housing Act 1966, provides that the management and maintenance of local authority housing stock is a matter for each individual local authority. This includes the implementation of planned maintenance programmes and carrying out of responsive repairs and pre-letting repairs.

The Voids Programme, introduced in 2014 by my Department, provides additional support to local authorities in preparing vacant units for re-letting. The purpose of the Voids Programme is to ensure that vacant units are actively targeted, with a view to minimising the turnaround and re-let time of these units and return them to use in an energy efficient condition.

Earlier this year, local authorities submitted to my Department details of their work proposals and related funding requirements for this programme in 2019. These proposals were evaluated and approval was given to proceed with works to 1,466 void properties with a remediation cost of some €27.3 million.

Cavan County Council sought approval for inclusion of 5 dwellings in the Voids programme for 2019. Approval was given to proceed with works to these 5 properties subject to the provision of a pre BER assessment and post works BER certificate. Given the availability of funding, the completion of the works is now a matter for the Council.

A group representing a number of local authorities is working to identify best practice in relation to housing stock maintenance and repairs, within the structure of the City and County Management Association (CCMA). My Department is engaging with the sub-group in relation to the development of a sustainable funding approach to housing stock maintenance and repairs and this will continue according as the sub-group’s work evolves further.

Home Loan Scheme

Ceisteanna (1996)

Frank O'Rourke

Ceist:

1996. Deputy Frank O'Rourke asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the amount of new funding for the Rebuilding Ireland home loan scheme that will be made available to Kildare County Council; if the additional funding will be sufficient for both the drawdown of loans on approvals already issued (details supplied) and for the projected loan demand for the remainder of 2019; when Kildare County Council will receive the new funding; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36470/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

When the Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan (RIHL) scheme was initially being developed, it was estimated that the drawdown of loans would be approximately €200 million over three years. However, the RIHL proved to be more successful than initially anticipated. My officials began engaging with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform in 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.

Following positive engagement with my colleague, the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, my Department wrote to all 31 local authorities on 15 August 2019 sanctioning an additional €363 million in funding for the RIHL. This brings total funding for the RIHL to €563 million for 2018 and 2019 combined.

Kildare County Council’s total RIHL allocation, for the period 1 February 2018 to 31 December 2019, has been increased to some €20.9 million. This overall allocation incorporates loans already issued since the inception of the scheme, loans which will be drawn down on foot of approvals already issued and projected loan demand for the rest of 2019.

Tax Clearance Certificates

Ceisteanna (1997)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

1997. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if the decision on a new requirement for homeowners will be reversed (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36475/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

In relation to the requirement for applicants who are seeking a mortgage to produce a tax clearance certificate, mortgage lending by banks and other Central Bank regulated mortgage lenders is a matter for my colleague, the Minister for Finance.

The Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan (RIHL) is the only mortgage product for which my Department has responsibility. The RIHL, which was introduced from 1 February 2018, enables credit worthy first time buyers to access sustainable mortgage lending to purchase new or second-hand properties. The low rate of fixed interest associated with the RIHL provides first time buyers with access to mortgage finance that they may not otherwise have been able to afford at a higher interest rate.

As part of the eligibility criteria for a Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan applicants must:

- be in continuous employment for a minimum of two years, as the primary earner or be in continuous employment for a minimum of one year, as a secondary earner;

- have an annual gross income of not more than €50,000 as a single applicant or not more than €75,000 combined as joint applicants; and

- submit two years certified accounts if self-employed.

In terms of self-employed applicants, income details provided by the applicants must be supported by the following:

- Minimum of two years accounts with an Accountant's or Auditor's Report (a qualified report is not acceptable) from a suitably qualified practitioner (ACCA/FCA/CPA/IPA) along with an up to date tax balancing statement for the company/business;

- Minimum of 12 months most recent personal current account bank statements and a minimum of 12 months most recent business current account statements verifying net income, and 12 months most recent statements verifying savings; and

- A Tax Clearance Certificate is required to confirm that a self-employed applicant's tax affairs are in order with the Revenue Commissioners.

Decisions on individual loan applications are a matter for each local authority's Credit Committee.

Local Authority Housing

Ceisteanna (1998)

John Curran

Ceist:

1998. Deputy John Curran asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government when a design build contractor framework to deliver residential developments through the use of volumetric construction methods will be available to all local authorities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36564/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

My Department is supportive of the design build contractor framework which has been established by Dublin City Council to deliver larger scale residential developments through the use of volumetric construction methods. This framework is now available to all local authorities and will open up additional opportunities to deliver volumetric/rapid delivery apartments and housing for social housing use.

It is envisaged that over 1,000 fast-track apartments/houses will be built using this framework, and while the majority of these homes will be advanced across the Dublin area, my Department is working with all local authorities to advance any scheme/project suitable for volumetric construction.

Local Authority Housing Data

Ceisteanna (1999)

John Curran

Ceist:

1999. Deputy John Curran asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the amount of funding drawn down by local authorities for the serviced sites fund to date; the number of affordable homes that have been provided under the scheme; the qualifying criteria to be eligible for an affordable home; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36565/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

In order to support the delivery of affordable homes to buy or rent, the Government has committed €310 million under the Serviced Sites Fund (SSF), from 2019 to 2021 to provide infrastructure support for the delivery of over 6,000 affordable homes. The first call for proposals under the SSF issued in June 2018 and was specifically targeted at 11 local authorities, where the greatest affordability pressures exists. In December 2018, approval in principle was announced for funding for 10 infrastructure projects, in Dublin and Cork, with an allocated budget of €43 million. This will support the delivery of approximately 1,400 affordable homes. The overall cost and the timing of delivery for these projects is contingent upon the completion of design, planning and procurement in the first instance, and local authorities are working to achieve delivery as quickly as possible. Details of these projects are available on the Rebuilding Ireland website at the following link: https://rebuildingireland.ie/news/minister-murphy-approves-10-local-authority-sites-affordable-housing-serviced-sites-fund/

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 was issued on 9 April 2019 to 19 local authorities, based on the aforementioned economic assessments submitted.

31 submissions were received from 15 local authorities under this second call. On 6 August 2019, I announced approval in principle for 25 of these projects across 13 local authorities, with a significant funding commitment of €84 million for infrastructure that will support the delivery of over 1,770 affordable homes. Details of the particular projects involved are available on the Rebuilding Ireland website at the following link: https://rebuildingireland.ie/news/minister-murphy-approves-funding-of-e84m-to-support-delivery-of-1770-affordable-homes-under-the-ssf/.

To date, funding of €127 million in support has been allocated for infrastructure works that will support the delivery of almost 3,200 affordable homes under the scheme.

While one Serviced Site Fund project, which is supporting the development of 55 Cost Rental Units at Enniskerry Road, Dublin, has just gone on site, it should be noted that all other projects are currently at the stages of design and planning and, accordingly, local authorities are not yet drawing down allocated funds. Indeed, I anticipate that the bulk of expenditure will only arise as projects reach the construction phase. My Department will continue to engage pro-actively with local authorities to help progress SSF projects and to achieve a full drawdown of the available funding.

With regard to the qualifying criteria for the purchase of an affordable home, the Affordable Dwelling Purchase Scheme is primarily aimed at low to middle income households who are first time buyers. The scheme is underpinned by the relevant provisions of Part 5 of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009, which I commenced in June 2018.

On 12 March 2019, I signed the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009 (Part 5) Regulations 2019 (S.I. No 81 of 2019), which deals the preparation of a 'Scheme of Priority' by each local authority. 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 in instances where the demand for such affordable dwellings exceeds the number that are available.

Further regulations will be made in respect of Part 5 of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009 later this year, specifically in relation to the assessment of eligibility for affordable homes and the setting of income limits. These will be in place before affordable homes become available.

Home Loan Scheme

Ceisteanna (2000)

Jan O'Sullivan

Ceist:

2000. Deputy Jan O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if there is a requirement for persons who are approved for a Rebuilding Ireland home loan to sign up for a specific mortgage protection insurance policy; if they can opt for a policy from a company other than the one advised by the council approving the loan; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36610/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

The local authority mortgage protection insurance (MPI) scheme has applied to all house purchase loans approved by local authorities after 1 July 1986, including the Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan introduced on 1 February 2018.

The Consumer Credit Act 1995 applied conditions on lenders which applied to local authorities as well as commercial lenders. Under section 126 of the Act, the lender is legally required to ensure that a prospective borrower has mortgage protection insurance in place before drawing down a mortgage. Where a lender offers a particular policy, sub-section 2(d) of section 126 of the Act provides that the borrower can source an alternative policy to suit their needs. However, sub-section 2(d) does not apply to local authorities.

One of the conditions of the MPI scheme, which is a group policy, is that it is obligatory for all local authority borrowers who meet the eligibility criteria to join the scheme. Altering this condition would have a negative impact on the scheme and increase the cost for all existing borrowers. A local authority housing loan applicant who is not eligible for the local authority MPI scheme must source a suitable comparable individual MPI policy from the market.

The scheme is subject to periodic review and competitive tendering in accordance with the terms of EU Directives relating to the award of public service contracts. This is to ensure that the most appropriate cover at the best value for money is secured for local authority borrowers over the entire life of their mortgages.

The most recent public procurement competition for the provision and administration of this MPI scheme was conducted by the Office of Government Procurement. The contract resulting from this open tender competition came into effect from 1 January 2017 and is due to expire on 31 December 2020.

Wind Energy Guidelines

Question No. 2002 answered with Question No. 1929.

Ceisteanna (2001, 2007)

Aindrias Moynihan

Ceist:

2001. Deputy Aindrias Moynihan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government when the updated guidelines for windfarms will be published; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36612/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Robert Troy

Ceist:

2007. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the status of the publication of the updated wind energy guidelines; and if the public consultation period has commenced as stated in July 2019. [36870/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 2001 and 2007 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 process, 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 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 eight-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 is aiming to commence the public consultation by the end of this month.

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.

Question No. 2002 answered with Question No. 1929.

Irish Water

Ceisteanna (2003)

Aindrias Moynihan

Ceist:

2003. Deputy Aindrias Moynihan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the status of the implementation of the national taking in charge initiative; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36614/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

Findings and recommendations from the National Taking in Charge Initiative (NTICI) were included in a report on the initiative that was published by my Department in December 2018. The report is available on my Department's website at the following link: www.housing.gov.ie/sites/default/files/publications/files/national_taking_in_charge_initiative_report_dec2018.pdf.

The publication of the NTICI report is of value to local authorities and other stakeholders in applying the lessons from the pilot authorities, in a more general roll-out of a streamlined approach to taking-in-charge, which is currently in progress, including through coordination with capital works by Irish Water. In this regard, my Department is liaising with Irish Water in relation to the report.

My Department issued Circular Letter PL 02-2019 earlier this year which sets out procedures relating to new arrangements that came into force in April 2019 concerning securities for the satisfactory completion of developments, including bonds, and the application of Irish Water’s Connection Charging Policy as regards such matters. The circular is available on my Department's website at the following link:

www.housing.gov.ie/planning/guidelines/circular-pl-022019-planning-securities-irish-water-connection-agreements.

In addition, in 2018, my Department published draft Water Services Guidelines for Planning Authorities for consultation under Section 28 of the Planning and Development Act 2000 (as amended), which address the issues of bonds and cash securities applied to permissions granted before April 2019. I intend to issue final guidelines shortly.

The Local Government Management Agency (LGMA) and financial institutions, in conjunction with my Department, are currently considering an approach to the wording and process of future planning security arrangements.

The National Development Plan, published last year, includes a provision for €31 million for the period 2018-2021 for developer-provided infrastructure, commencing with a provision of €6 million in 2019. The multi-annual programme will be initiated through the invitation of project bids from local authorities followed by their evaluation by an Expert Panel, set up by my Department, to independently evaluate the bid projects to be approved for funding.

My Department announced the programme for funding for residential estates with developer provided water services infrastructure on 23 July 2019 and has issued an invitation for project bids to be submitted by local authorities before 18 September, with approval of projects for this first cycle of the multi-annual programme to take place after proposals submitted have been assessed.

Housing Adaptation Grant Data

Ceisteanna (2004)

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

2004. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the amount of funding provided to each local authority in each of the past three years under the housing adaptation and improvements grants schemes. [36668/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

My Department provides funding under the suite of Housing Adaptation Grants for Older People and People with a Disability, in respect of private houses. There are three separate grant schemes available, including the Housing Aid for Older People Grant, the Mobility Aids Grant and the Housing Adaptation Grant for People with a Disability. Funding of €71.25 million has been allocated for the three schemes in 2019, with responsibility for the apportionment between the individual schemes being a matter for each local authority.

Information on these grant schemes in each of the last three years, including the numbers of grants funded per annum and the funding provided to each local authority, is available on my Department’s website at the following link: www.housing.gov.ie/housing/statistics/social-and-affordble/other-local-authority-housing-scheme-statistics.

Over the course of each year, my Department works closely with all local authorities, to monitor spend and to achieve a full drawdown of the available funding. As the year progresses, any underspend is redistributed to those local authorities with high levels of grant activity who sought additional funding.

Housing Assistance Payment Expenditure

Ceisteanna (2005)

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

2005. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the respective expenditure on the housing assistance payment and the rental accommodation scheme in each of the past five years; the number of recipients in each of the years; and the projected figures for 2019. [36669/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

The Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) is a flexible and immediate housing support that is available to all eligible households throughout the State, progressively replacing Rent Supplement for those with a long term social housing need. At the end of Quarter 2 2019, there were over 48,200 households having their housing needs met through HAP.

HAP is funded through a combination of Exchequer funding and tenant differential rents. Budget 2019 increased the Exchequer funding for the HAP scheme to €422 million. This allows for the continued support of existing HAP households, and to also enable the additional 16,760 households targeted under Rebuilding Ireland to be supported by HAP in 2019, as well as supporting the roll-out of the Homeless HAP Place Finder Support Service across the country.

Details on the number of tenancy setups and Exchequer funding for HAP from 2014 to 2018, which reflect the fact that HAP was rolled out on a phased basis across local authorities between 2014 and 2017, are set out in the table below:

Year

Tenancies Set Up Each Year

Outturn €m

2014

485

€0.39m

2015

5,680

€15.64m

2016

12,075

€57.69m

2017

17,916

€152.69m

2018

17,926

€276.6m

A breakdown of the number of households supported by HAP in each local authority area is available on my Department’s website at the following link: www.housing.gov.ie/housing/social-housing/social-and-affordble/overall-social-housing-provision.

Data for the years 2014 to 2018 on the number and cost of tenancies funded under the Rental Accommodation Scheme (RAS) scheme is available on my Department's website at the following link: www.housing.gov.ie/housing/social-housing/social-and-affordble/overall-social-housing-provision. The most recent RAS data reflects the number of tenancies in place at end March 2019, when there were a total of 18,697 tenancies supported under the scheme.

I am providing €134.3 million to support the cost of RAS in 2019 and this funding will go towards supporting 600 additional RAS tenancies targeted to be achieved by local authorities in 2019 and the ongoing cost of supporting continuing RAS contracts in place at the beginning of 2019. It is not possible to accurately predict the number of tenancies that will be supported by RAS at the end of 2019 as numbers in RAS vary as contracts end, tenants move on to other properties, landlords join or withdraw from the scheme, new tenancies are allocated or vacancies in contracted units are filled.

HAP and RAS continue to be key vehicles in meeting housing need and fulfilling the ambitious programme set out in the Rebuilding Ireland Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness.

Social and Affordable Housing Data

Question No. 2007 answered with Question No. 2001.

Ceisteanna (2006)

Darragh O'Brien

Ceist:

2006. Deputy Darragh O'Brien asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of units acquired under the buy and renew scheme by county; the expenditure by county per annum; the number of applications per annum since its inception by county, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36769/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

Under my Department's Social Housing Investment Programme, funding is available to all local authorities to deliver additional social housing stock through the acquisition of new and previously owned houses/apartments for social housing use, including delivery through the Buy and Renew Scheme.

Since the Buy & Renew Scheme was introduced, local authorities have delivered over 430 new social homes under the scheme. Activity in this regard is largely delegated to local authorities so they can respond flexibly to all opportunities to provide new social housing. The following table sets out details of the number of homes acquired, and the associated costs, broken down by local authority.

Local Authority

2016/2017 Homes

Cost*

2018 Homes

Cost*

2019 Homes

Cost*

Carlow

1

€116,500

15

€1,875,607

3

€533,007

Cavan

0

€0

1

€178,038

0

€0

Clare

4

€666,468

16

€2,949,093

7

€1,317,977

Cork City

0

€0

27

€6,842,639

8

€1,925,471

Cork County

0

€0

3

€497,528

1

€217,163

DLR

12

€4,100,000

0

€0

1

€300,000

Dublin City

6

€2,004,752

20

€4,646,957

6

€1,318,533

Fingal

11

€2,433,561

19

€7,442,617

0

€0

Kerry

12

€1,782,501

21

€3,356,216

3

€492,889

Kildare

2

€697,678

1

€403,702

2

€453,343

Kilkenny

1

€251,971

0

€0

0

€0

Laois

3

€343,820

0

€0

1

€160,845

Leitrim

0

€0

5

€635,030

0

€0

Limerick

15

€3,109,126

31

€6,351,437

4

€1,011,758

Louth

0

€0

51

€7,616,000

0

€0

Meath

11

€2,244,499

17

€3,740,531

6

€1,250,674

Monaghan

0

€0

17

€2,456,700

2

€308,051

Offaly

4

€510,598

0

€0

0

€0

Roscommon

0

€0

0

€0

1

€123,830

Sligo

0

€0

1

€155,486

0

€0

Tipperary

1

€123,250

9

€1,258,015

0

€0

Waterford

29

€1,998,258

4

€622,316

6

€423,896

Westmeath

0

€0

2

€229,538

0

€0

Wexford

0

€0

6

€643,296

3

€371,573

*Costs include costs of refurbishment (estimated in certain cases pending receipt of final claims from local authorities)

Question No. 2007 answered with Question No. 2001.

Solar Energy Guidelines

Ceisteanna (2008)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

2008. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the status of the publication of guidelines to govern the construction of large-scale solar energy farms. [36871/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

As is the case with the large majority of development types, there are currently no specific planning guidelines in place in respect of solar farms. Proposals for individual solar farm developments are subject to the statutory requirements of the Planning and Development Act 2000, as amended, in the same manner as other proposed developments, with planning applications made to the relevant local planning authority and with a right of appeal to An Bord Pleanála. Within the wider national and local planning context, including the planning authority's Development Plan, planning authorities must make their decisions, based on the specific merits or otherwise of individual planning applications.

While I am satisfied that the planning code is sufficiently robust to facilitate the assessment of individual planning applications for solar farm developments, the matter is being kept under review, in consultation with the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and the Environment, who leads on renewable energy policy. Our two Departments are presently exploring the potential for enhancing national planning guidance on solar energy, taking account of solar energy projects being assessed by planning authorities and the scope for future development of the sector in the context of the ongoing development of renewable energy policy.

On foot of this on-going engagement between the two Departments, where the need for specific planning guidance for solar farms is identified, my Department will develop such guidance as appropriate.

Septic Tank Grants

Ceisteanna (2009)

Dara Calleary

Ceist:

2009. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government when the proposed expanded septic tank grant scheme will be launched in 2019; the proposed maximum grant aid available; and if the means test requirements will be removed. [36893/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

The new funding scheme for on-site wastewater treatment systems (more commonly known as septic tanks) will replace the current grant which was brought into operation by the Domestic Waste Water Treatment System (Financial Assistance) Regulations 2013. Under certain conditions households can receive a grant to assist them in carrying out remediation, repair or upgrading works to, or replacement of their individual domestic wastewater treatment system (septic tank).

To avail of the grant the treatment system must have been inspected under the EPA's National Inspection Plan and an Advisory Notice must have been issued by the local authority under the Water Services (Amendment) Act 2012. Also, the treatment system requiring attention must have been registered by the owner of the premises connected to it by 1 February 2013.

In order to ensure greater uniformity with other measures in the Multi-Annual Rural Water Programme the means test that previously applied to this grant scheme is being removed and the level of grant support is being increased to 85% of the eligible costs of installation/upgrade or €5,000 (up from €2,500/€4,000) whichever is the lesser. This represents an increase of 25% and 100% respectively, relative to the current maximum grant levels.

Work is at an advanced stage of development of the new scheme. I expect that the process will be substantially completed over the coming month 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.

Property Registration Authority Administration

Ceisteanna (2010)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

2010. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the waiting times to have matters dealt with by the Land Registry; his views on whether there are resource shortages within the system which are resulting in unnecessary delays in dealing with queries; and the resources he will put in place to resolve this matter (details supplied). [36935/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

The Property Registration Authority (PRA) is the State organisation responsible for the registration of property transactions in Ireland. The PRA manages and controls the Land Registry and the Registry of Deeds registering what State guaranteed titles of land.

The PRA expects to complete over 250,000 Land Registry transactions in 2019, an increase of 49,000 over 2018. Applications submitted to the PRA, that are fully in order for registration and which do not require the raising of queries, are dealt with in a very timely and efficient manner. In 2018, 82% of cases in order for registration were completed within 10 days, an increase of 20% compared to 2017.

Applications received by the PRA that are not in order for registration must be returned to the lodging party. During 2019 to date, the PRA experienced a rejection rate of 14%. At end August 2019, there were 100,724 legal transactions on hand with 24% of applications for registration on hand subject to query. Given the legal and financial nature of the transactions, and the State guaranteed nature of title, such cases cannot proceed until all queries have been satisfactorily dealt with.

Certain applications, such as First Registration Rights-of-Way and applications for registration based on long or adverse possession, are legally complex requiring lengthy interaction over queries with the lodging party. In addition, notice must be served on all interested parties and appropriate time allowed for objections. The PRA must be fully satisfied that a case is fully grounded, the nature of the title proven and that all interested parties’ concerns are fully considered before registering a State guaranteed title.

Of the cases on hand, some 17% relate to First Registration applications. This is reflective of a large intake of such cases since the extension of compulsory first registration across Ireland in 2011. The PRA is specifically targeting First Registrations through a two-pronged approach involving: certification by a Solicitor, meaning a full examination of title is not necessary; and, targeted recruitment of dedicated specialist staff to deal with the First Registration cases.

In addition to the measures specific to First Registration outlined above, the PRA has put in place a number of initiatives to enhance its engagement with solicitors and improve the quality of the documentation submitted with applications for registration. For example, the PRA has developed a series of guides and videos which are available on its website.

The PRA has a current staff complement of 525 FTE. Strategic workforce planning has been embedded in the Authority for some time. Staffing resources are managed at a sustainable level and effective succession planning, talent management and learning and development strategies are used in tandem with planned recruitment. Business process improvement training has been provided for staff in key areas to help design and embed the most efficient case handling processes.

The day to day operation of the PRA is a matter for the Authority itself, which is independent in its operations. Agencies under my Department's remit have put arrangements in place for information to be provided directly to Oireachtas members. Insofar as the PRA is concerned, this service can be contacted at reps@prai.ie.

Home Loan Scheme

Ceisteanna (2011)

Catherine Connolly

Ceist:

2011. Deputy Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of applications received, approved and refused under the Rebuilding Ireland home loan scheme by Galway city and county; the average processing time of applications; the average value of loans approved; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36937/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

The Housing Agency provides a central support service which assesses applications for the Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan on behalf of local authorities and makes recommendations to the authorities to approve or refuse applications.

I have asked the Agency to compile figures on the numbers of applications that it has assessed, recommended to approve and recommended to decline since the scheme began for both Galway City and Galway County Council. The most recent figures, as at the end of August 2019, are set out in the following table -

Local Authority

Applications Assessed

Recommended to Approve

Recommended to Decline

Galway City Council

102

55

47

Galway County Council

168

60

108

For Quarter 1 2019, the average values of loans approved by Galway City Council and Galway County Council were €184,840 and €152,421, respectively.

Processing of a complete and valid application takes approximately six to eight weeks. Each local authority must have in place a credit committee and it is a matter for the committee to make the decision on applications for loans, in accordance with the regulations, having regard to the recommendations made by the Housing Agency.

Public Parks Access

Ceisteanna (2012)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

2012. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if she will address a matter regarding a footpath at a location (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [34746/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Culture)

The location referred to by the Deputy consists of stately home and its curtilage which are protected under the Kerry County Council Development Plan (Ref 74-2) and any alteration to the structure of the house or any material change affecting the curtilage would require planning permission. The current small gravel courtyard to which the Deputy refers is in keeping with the design and historical accuracy of the building.

Visitor access to the House is not provided at the location in question and universal access is provided for visitors through the main visitor access point. The tour of the house is accessible to both wheelchair users as well as those with pushchairs etc. For those wishing to see the views that the Deputy mentions, from the front of the house, outside, a metaled path allows both wheelchair and buggy access to the area directly in front of the drawing room that affords all visitors, including those referenced, equal opportunity to enjoy the vista.