Question No. 668 answered with Question No. 662.

Property Registration Authority

Ceisteanna (669)

Brendan Howlin

Ceist:

669. Deputy Brendan Howlin asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the position with regard to the digitisation of Land Registry maps; if all maps have been digitised; when it is expected that the process will be complete; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37212/19]

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 PRAs Digital Mapping Project ran from September 2005 to September 2010.  This was a major transformation project involving the digitisation of approximately 2.4 million land parcels, made up of approximately 15 million line segments. The Project is complete, with 99.9% of land parcels successfully digitally mapped with issues resolved. As can be expected, some residual and historical issues, which existed in the paper-based pre-digital system, came to light during the process. The vast bulk of such issues were dealt with and any outstanding issues are resolved on an ongoing basis. Such unresolved issues represent only 0.1% of the overall number of registered land parcels.

Wastewater Treatment

Ceisteanna (670)

Eoin Ó Broin

Ceist:

670. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if the improved funding scheme for onsite wastewater treatment systems that was announced in February 2019 is open for applications; and if circular letters have been issued to local authorities. [37244/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

Work is at an advanced stage of development of the funding scheme referred to by the Deputy.  I expect that the process will be substantially 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 (671)

John McGuinness

Ceist:

671. Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the obligations of local authorities in relation to keeping records of the planning permissions granted for quarries and their adherence to the conditions of planning granted; if each local authority has a record of all quarries that are not operating in accordance with planning guidelines or that were operational prior to the guidelines being established; if his Department has a role in ensuring that all registers are kept updated and that all appropriate actions to ensure compliance are being taken; if an audit system is in place within his Department to profile the performance of each county relative to these matters and the reinstatement works required in certain cases; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37344/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

Under section 7 of the Planning and Development Act 2000, as amended (the 2000 Act), all planning authorities are required to keep a register in respect of all land within their functional areas. In this regard, planning authorities have to include in such registers particulars of all planning applications made to the authority under the 2000 Act, including quarries. The register also includes the decision of the authority on any application, details of any associated conditions imposed, such as reinstatement works, and details of any enforcement notices and action taken in relation to a particular development. My Department has no role in relation to the maintenance of these registers.

Under planning legislation, enforcement of planning control is a matter for the relevant planning authority. Planning authorities have extensive enforcement powers under Part VIII of the 2000 Act to take action where the terms of a permission have not been met.  In addition, anyone may seek a court order under section 160 of the 2000 Act in relation to unauthorised development.

Under section 30 of the 2000 Act, I am specifically precluded from exercising any power or control in relation to any particular case with which a planning authority or An Bord Pleanála is or may be concerned, including enforcement.

In May 2013, a Ministerial Policy Directive was issued to all planning authorities under section 29 of the 2000 Act, reminding them of their statutory obligations under Part VIII of the 2000 Act relating to enforcement. The Policy Directive required that planning authorities ensure that sufficient and appropriate human resources are made available for enforcement purposes. It also required planning authorities to undertake appropriate monitoring of planning enforcement and directed them to prioritise large-scale unauthorised development and enforcement cases.

The Office of the Planning Regulator has powers under section 31P of the 2000 Act to conduct reviews of the performance by planning authorities of their respective functions and to oversee the delivery of effective planning services to the public by planning authorities.

Tenant Purchase Scheme

Ceisteanna (672)

Niall Collins

Ceist:

672. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if he will address a matter raised in correspondence (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37394/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

The Tenant (Incremental) Purchase Scheme came into operation on 1 January 2016. The Housing (Sale of Local Authority Houses) Regulations 2015 (S.I. 484 of 2015) set down the terms and conditions of the scheme.

The operation of the Tenant (Incremental) Purchase Scheme is a matter for the local authority concerned, in line with the legislation and the 2015 Regulations. Local authorities are by law (Section 63(3) of the Local Government Act 2001) independent in the performance of their functions. As Minister, I am precluded from becoming involved in individual cases.

If a person considers that he/she has been adversely affected by a local authority's action, or lack of action, which he/she considers unfair or unreasonable, they can submit a formal complaint to their local authority. The elected members of the local authority also exercise an oversight role in relation to the executive's discharge of their functions. If a person remains dissatisfied with the outcome of their engagement with the local authority, it is open to them to make a complaint to the Ombudsman.

Legislative Programme

Ceisteanna (673)

Catherine Connolly

Ceist:

673. Deputy Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the status of the Tailte Éireann Bill; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37398/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

The Valuation Office, Ordnance Survey Ireland and the Property Registration Authority are being merged into a new single organisation, Tailte Éireann, to deliver more integrated, efficient and effective State land, spatial data and property administration services for Ireland. From January 2018 responsibility for the oversight of the three bodies, and the related merger project, transferred from the Department of Justice and Equality to my Department.  The administrative arrangements for the merger are being progressed by the three bodies working with my Department, in parallel with work on the necessary statutory provisions. My Department is working on the legislation, with the Office of the Attorney General, building on the previous work undertaken by the Department of Justice and Equality, with a view to publication of an updated General Scheme of the Bill in Q4 of this year.

Housing Adaptation Grant Expenditure

Ceisteanna (674)

Catherine Connolly

Ceist:

674. Deputy Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the estimated full year cost if the budget for housing adaptation grants for older people and people with a disability scheme increased by 7.5%; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37399/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

In 2019, a total of €71.25 million is available for the Housing Adaptation Grants for Older People and People with a Disability Scheme, in respect of private houses. This is made up of €57 million Exchequer funding, which is an increase of some 8% on the 2018 figure, with the balance of €14.25m being contributed by the local authorities.  The suite of grants include the Housing Adaptation Grant for People with a Disability, the Mobility Aids Grant and the Housing Aid for Older People. 

Increasing funding by 7.5% would cost an additional €4.27 million to the Exchequer, with a further €1.07 million to be contributed by the local authorities.

Further consideration will be given to increasing funding over the coming years in the context of the range of housing supports and provision being made under Rebuilding Ireland and also considering the commitments under the Government's Housing Options for Our Ageing Population - Policy Statement (Actions 4.1/4.2), which is available on my Department's website at the following link: https://www.housing.gov.ie/sites/default/files/publications/files/housingoptionsforanageingpopulationeng_web.pdf.

Local Authority Housing Funding

Ceisteanna (675)

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

675. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the amount of funding contributed to Kildare County Council regarding the acquisition of units at a location (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37428/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

Kildare County Council is securing a total of 44 new social homes at the location referred to.  Of these, 5 arise through Part V arrangements and 39 through a 'turnkey' arrangement with the developer. To date, funding of €3,139,648 has been provided by my Department in respect of housing units delivered to Kildare County Council at this development.

Capital Expenditure Programme

Ceisteanna (676)

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

676. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the projected increase in the gross capital expenditure ceiling applying to his Department in 2020 over 2019; and the projects this increase has been earmarked for. [37456/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

The capital expenditure provision for my Department in 2020, as set out in the Mid-Year Expenditure Report 2019 published by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, amounts to €2.205 billion  - an increase of  €81m on the 2019 allocation of €2.124 billion.

This 2020 provision does not take into account a further €13m of drawdown under the Urban Regeneration and Development Fund that was re-profiled from 2019 to 2020, without delay to any URDF projects, as part of the process of accommodating the additional cost pressures arising from the National Children’s Hospital project - this €13m adjustment to the 2020 figure will be reflected at Budget time. 

The capital provision for my Department in Budget 2020 will be used to advance investment across a range of programme areas within my Department’s remit, including local authority housing, voluntary housing, estate regeneration, the Local Infrastructure Housing Activation Fund, the Serviced Sites Fund, the URDF, water and wastewater services, and fire and emergency services. Details of specific allocations towards individual programmes will be finalised as part of the Estimates processes, as normal, and information on projects to be funded will be announced as part of ongoing programme management.

Building Regulations Compliance

Ceisteanna (677, 678)

Eoin Ó Broin

Ceist:

677. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the steps he will take to ensure full compliance with the 2014 building control regulations in view of recent reports in the media (details supplied) that a defective housing estate in County Kildare built in 2017 was not BCAR compliant; if he or his officials have had contact with building control staff in Kildare County Council; if moving to a fully independent inspection and enforcement regime for building control as recommended in the report Safe As Houses by the Oireachtas Committee on Housing, Planning and Local Government will be considered; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37497/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Eoin Ó Broin

Ceist:

678. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if his attention has been drawn to the fact that residents at a location (details supplied) in County Kildare have not been issued with copies of the BCAR certificates of compliance despite having requested same from Kildare County Council; and the steps he will take on behalf of the residents to ensure the council provides the documentation requested. [37498/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 677 and 678 together.

Under the Building Control Acts 1990 to 2014, primary responsibility for compliance of works with the requirements of the Building Regulations rests with the owners, designers and builders of buildings. Enforcement of the Building Regulations is a matter for the 31 local building control authorities who have extensive powers of inspection and enforcement under the Acts and who are independent in the use of their statutory powers.

In relation to the specific case referred to by the Deputy, my Department understands from the relevant local authority that their Building Control Officer is actively engaging with the builder and the assigned certifier to ensure the issues involved are remediated and compliance with the Building Regulations is achieved, as a priority.

The Safe as Houses report referred to has been considered by my Department and while I can subscribe to many of the principles in the report, I believe that the established building control reform agenda, with its many initiatives, already provides a comprehensive roadmap for embedding a culture of compliance and accountability within the construction industry and for strengthening the building control framework generally.

It was through the Building Control (Amendment) Regulations 2014, known within the industry as BCAR, and accompanying code of practice that the roles and responsibilities of owners, designers, builders, assigned certifiers have been set out and clarified. BCAR requires the owner to assign competent persons to design, build, inspect and certify building works he/she has commissioned. They in turn, must account for their contribution through the lodgement of compliance documentation, inspection plans and statutory certificates.

If and when issues arise whether pre, during or post construction, it is clear who has held the designated roles and who is responsible for addressing the issues. This facilitates and simplifies the inspection, implementation and enforcement role of the Building Control Authority.

The building control function has been strengthened by the establishment of the National Building Control Office, which provides oversight, direction and support for the development, standardisation and implementation of building control in local authorities. The inspections policy has been reviewed and developed to support local authorities identify risk and make the most efficient and effective use of the resources available.

In addition, the Government has committed to placing the Construction Industry Register Ireland, or CIRI, on a statutory footing. The Government approved the draft heads of a Bill to place the CIRI on a statutory footing and the Bill was referred to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Housing, Planning and Local Government for pre-legislative scrutiny. The Committee’s report has since been received. The Department is currently working through the Committee’s recommendations and engaging with the Attorney General's Office, with a view to achieving publication of the Bill in early 2020. The main objective of the legislation is to develop and promote a culture of competence, good practice and compliance with Building Regulations within the builder community.

The building control reform agenda’s focus has primarily been on ensuring strong and effective regulation in the building control system and the construction industry and on improving compliance in the Building Regulations. This reduces the risk and the incidences of defective buildings and has provided insurance underwriters with sufficient confidence to introduce new latent defect type products in Ireland, despite a general retrenchment and conservatism in the wider insurance industry. These new insurance products are first party insurance policies which cover damage and non- damage (breaches of building regulations) claims, to varying degrees. This means that the purchaser does not have to make a claim through the builder but can submit a claim directly to the insurer.

Building Regulations

Ceisteanna (679)

Eoin Ó Broin

Ceist:

679. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if a latent defects redress scheme will be considered, as outlined by the report, Safe As Houses, by the Oireachtas Committee on Housing, Planning and Local Government and supported by an organisation to determine the extent of the latent defects problem in view of recent revelations in the media (details supplied) of more apartment developments with latent defects. [37499/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

The Safe as Houses report has been considered by my Department, and while I can subscribe to many of the principles in it, I believe that the building control reform agenda already well underway provides a comprehensive roadmap for embedding a culture of compliance and accountability within the construction industry and for strengthening the building control framework in this country.

The reform agenda includes:

- amendments made to the Building Control Regulations;

- the National Building Control Management Project; and

- the ongoing development of new legislation through the Building Control (Construction Industry Register Ireland) Bill.

Local authorities have extensive powers of inspection and enforcement under the Fire Services Acts 1981 and 2003, the Fire Services Acts, the Housing Acts and the Planning and Development Acts. Fire services may inspect buildings in cases of defects or complaints in respect of fire safety.  They work with building owners to ensure that immediate risks are addressed and that a plan is put in place, where required, for works to bring buildings into compliance.

In relation to legacy issues generally, I acknowledge the very stressful circumstances which owners and residents face when defects occur in their homes.  However, in general, building defects are matters for resolution between the contracting parties involved, that is the homeowner, the builder, the developer and/or their respective insurers, structural guarantee or warranty scheme. The State has no general statutory role in resolving defects in privately owned buildings, including dwellings, nor does it have a budget for such matters. It is not possible for the State to take on responsibility/liability for all legacy issues nor would it send the right message to the industry regarding their responsibility for compliance.

My focus will remain firmly on ensuring the full roll out of the Building Control reform agenda, to ensure that all those that engaged in the construction sector take their responsibilities seriously and are appropriately held to account.  As part of the reform agenda, consumer protection will continue to be my core concern and any proposals in that regard will, of course, be considered.

Home Loan Scheme

Ceisteanna (680)

Brendan Griffin

Ceist:

680. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if he will remove or increase the restriction of 175 square metres in respect of the Rebuilding Ireland home loan; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37530/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

As with the previous local authority house purchase loan offerings, the properties that may be purchased with a Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan must have a gross internal floor area of 175 square metres or less, which is equivalent to 1,884 square feet.  This property size limit more than adequately provides, in terms of property size, for the range of accommodation needs of first time buyers and I have no plans, at this time, to revisit this provision.

Fire Service

Ceisteanna (681)

Mattie McGrath

Ceist:

681. Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if it is standard procedure for the Fire Service to no longer be called to road traffic accidents (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37536/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

The provision of fire services is a statutory function of fire authorities under the provisions of the Fire Services Acts 1981 and 2003. The receipt of calls from the public for assistance by the fire service is provided on a 'shared service' basis by three Regional Communications Centres (RCCs) at Limerick, Castlebar and Dublin.

My Department supports fire authorities mainly through setting national policy and co-ordinating its implementation; providing capital funding for fire appliances, emergency equipment and the construction and upgrading of fire stations; centralised training programmes and co-ordination of the development of guidance on operational and other fire service related matters.

I understand that all calls for fire service assistance are initially answered by the 999/112 Emergency Call Answering Service (ECAS). The ECAS service asks the caller which of the emergency services they wish to be connected to. Calls for the fire service are then transferred to one of the three RCCs. The operators in the RCC take relevant information from the caller. A Computer-Aided Mobilising System holds data on the Pre-Determined Attendances (PDAs) for each category of incident and every address in the country.

Once alerted by the RCC, the appropriate response is then decided by the Chief Fire Officer of each fire service, having regard to national policy, including the PDAs. Where appropriate, the nearest available fire brigade resources and appliances will attend. PDAs are reviewed periodically, but there has been no recent policy change in relation to the mobilisation of fire services to road traffic accidents (RTA).

Fire service mobilisation can also occur on foot of requests from the other emergency services attending an incident. In this regard, I understand that it would not be routine for the Ambulance Service or Gardaí to mobilise Fire Services to a road traffic accident (RTA) unless extrication of casualties from a vehicle wreckage was required or there was a significant oil spill on the road. It is estimated that fire services attendance is requested at approximately 10% of RTAs.

Housing Assistance Payment Data

Question No. 683 answered with Question No. 658.

Ceisteanna (682)

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

682. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government further to Parliamentary Question Nos. 1930 to 1933, inclusive, of 6 September 2019, the number of exits from HAP per category indicated in the reply; the number of these exits which were into long-term local authority or voluntary housing agency vacancies; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37671/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) supported tenancies are agreed between the landlord and the tenant. It is important to note that the local authority is not a party to the tenancy and has no role in its agreement. There is no limitation placed by the scheme on the length of tenancy that can be supported by  HAP. However, as with other private rental tenancies, the Residential Tenancies Act 2004 (as amended) governs the relationship between landlord and tenant and the length of the tenancy is a matter that must be agreed between the landlord and tenant in that context.

At the end of Q2 2019, a total of 14,478 households were reported on the HAP Shared Services Centre system as having exited HAP. This included tenant led exits; compliance exits; transfers to other forms of social housing; and landlord exits. This report is based on cessations as submitted by local authorities. Reasons for these cessations are typically provided by the tenant and/or landlord. 

The following table details the total number of closed/exit tenancies at the end of Q2 2019.

Category

Number of tenancies

Tenant led exits

4,977

Compliance exits

2,020

Transfers to other forms of social housing

3,304

Landlord exits

4,177

Total

14,478

In cases where a HAP supported tenancy ends, the tenant can find alternative accommodation and retain their eligibility for HAP support or the local authority may decide to offer another form of social housing support to the tenant in accordance with their scheme of letting priorities. 

I continue to keep the operation of HAP under review and I consider it to be a key vehicle for meeting current housing need and fulfilling the ambitious programme set out in Rebuilding Ireland.

Question No. 683 answered with Question No. 658.

Social and Affordable Housing

Ceisteanna (684)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

684. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the extent to which the impact of a sizeable capital expenditure on the building of local authority houses is required nationally including affordable houses for sale to eligible families as opposed to the various modes of assistance available through rent support, HAP or other interim measures which have an annual impact as opposed to a once off capital investment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37728/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

Over the course of the 6-year Rebuilding Ireland Action Plan, the Government is committed to meeting the housing needs of over 138,000 households. This will be achieved through blended delivery, involving increasing the social housing stock by over 50,000 homes, through build, acquisition and leasing programmes, and supporting some 88,000 further households through the Housing Assistance Payment and the Rental Accommodation Scheme.

During the period 2016-2018, the housing needs of some 91,000 households were supported under current programmes, including the HAP and RAS schemes. This figure includes continuing to provide support to those already in homes supported under the programmes concerned, and also the additional tenancies established during that period. If the funding provided for these 91,000 households had been transferred to capital expenditure, to support building or buying homes, it would have secured some 5,500 homes, leaving no resources available to support the other 85,500 households. Almost €20 billion would be required to provide a new build local authority home for those 91,000 households. 

In 2019, a further 22,388 households will benefit through these current funded housing delivery schemes, meaning that with the 2019 budget provision of €712 million across the 3 schemes, a total of €1.88 billion, over the 4 years 2016 to 2019, will have ensured that up to 112,000 families and individuals will have had their housing need met.

In addition, the provision of affordable housing, either to buy or rent, is being facilitated by the €310 million Serviced Sites Fund (SSF) that runs from 2019 to 2021. The fund is to provide facilitating infrastructure on local authority sites so that more affordable discounted homes can be delivered.  I envisage a maximum amount of SSF funding of €50,000 per home and, on this basis, at least 6,200 affordable homes can be provided.

Two calls have been made under the Serviced Sites Fund to date, and approval in principle has been granted for funding of approximately €127 million, to support almost 3,200 homes.  While more focused on urban areas, and building at scale on local authority sites, the fund remains in place for the provision of housing in all locations where there is a proven affordability challenge.  It is anticipated that further calls under the Serviced Sites Fund will be made in due course.

It should be noted that in addition to these new homes being made available at a significant discount on market norms, households have also been supported through other key Government affordability initiatives.  These include, for example, the Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan and the Help to Buy Scheme, which have helped address the housing needs of some 15,000 households.

I am confident that the actions, targets and resources available under Rebuilding Ireland provide a strong platform for meeting the range of housing needs that exist nationally.

Local Authority Housing Data

Ceisteanna (685, 689, 690, 692)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

685. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of local authority housing developments of accommodation under construction by local authority area, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37729/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

689. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of direct build local authority houses likely to become available, by county, in the coming year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37733/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

690. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of likely local authority housing starts that can possibly take place in the next six months by county but with particular reference to those counties immediately adjacent to Dublin which are already heavily overburdened with applicants; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37734/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

692. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of local authority houses commenced and-or built by each local authority in 2019; the way in which the number related to the number of eligible persons on a waiting list of the local authorities in question; the extent to which the number will be increased in the future; the extent to which it is expected to reduce the number on the waiting lists in each local authority; his plans for an accelerated building programme to deal with the situation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37736/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 685, 689, 690 and 692 together.

All local authorities are being funded to significantly increase their delivery of social housing as part of Rebuilding Ireland and a strong social housing construction pipeline is already in place for local authorities and approved housing bodies.

A detailed breakdown of the construction programme of new social housing build is set out in the Social Housing Construction Status Report which is updated and published on a quarterly basis. The report covering the period up to end Quarter 1 of 2019 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/ and provides project details of the social housing construction pipeline in place at that time for all local authorities, including the counties adjacent to Dublin and including new build projects contracted by local authorities and those by approved housing bodies. The Quarter 2 report will be published shortly.

The Quarter 1 report reflected an increase in the scale of the social housing build programme, with 1,416 schemes (or phases of schemes) in place, for the delivery of 20,324 homes. Of this total, 6,740 units have already been delivered under Rebuilding Ireland up to Quarter 1 of 2019, while almost 5,600 additional new homes were on site and under construction. Almost 2,200 were at the final pre-construction stage and the remainder were progressing through the various stages of planning, design and procurement. It will be these schemes that will form the bulk of the housing starts and delivery over the next 6 months and beyond, although further projects will continue to be added to the pipeline on an ongoing basis.

The timing, delivery and tenanting of schemes is a matter in the first place for each local authority. I am pleased to see the progress being made on projects building on what has been already delivered, but I am keen that all local authorities further accelerate their programmes and I have assured them that the necessary funding is available to support their work in this regard.

National social housing delivery targets have been set under Rebuilding Ireland out to 2021 and are publicly available on a local authority basis, on the Rebuilding Ireland website at the following link: http://rebuildingireland.ie/news/social-housing-targets-2019/. Progress against these targets is tracked on a quarterly basis and details of this are published on my Department's website at https://www.housing.gov.ie/housing/social-housing/social-and-affordble/overall-social-housing-provision.

The social housing delivery targets set for each local authority are in proportion to their waiting lists. Accordingly, as progress is made by each authority against their delivery targets, this will proportionally benefit those on individual waiting lists. The most recently available Summary of Social Housing Assessments relates to 2018 and, at national level, the number of households on the waiting list had decreased by 13,941 (-16.2%), compared to the previous assessment in June 2017, with 29 of the 31 local authorities reporting a decrease.

Local Authority Housing Applications Data

Ceisteanna (686)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

686. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of new housing applicants registered with the various local authorities throughout the country in each of the past three years to date; the number housed by the local authorities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37730/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

Details on the number of households qualified for social housing support in each local authority area are set out in the statutory Summary of Social Housing Assessments (SSHA).  Since 2016, the summary process has been carried out on an annual basis.

The most recent available summary, which was carried out in 2018, details the number of households on all local authority waiting lists as at 11 June 2018 and can be found on my Department's website at the following link:

https://www.housing.gov.ie/sites/default/files/publications/files/summary_of_social_housing_assessments_2018_-_key_findings.pdf.

It should be noted that the SSHA is a point in time snapshot of the demand for social housing support in each local authority area and does not necessarily reflect the dynamic nature of entry to and exit from the housing waiting lists.

My Department is currently working with the Housing Agency on the 2019 summary and is examining the data sets currently collected and any potential new data sets that might be collected in the context of future summaries.

The allocation of social housing support is a matter for each individual local authority in accordance with the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009, and associated regulations. Section 22 of the 2009 Act requires all local authorities, as a reserved function, to make an allocation scheme determining the order of priority to be accorded in the allocation of dwellings to households qualified for social housing support and to households approved for a transfer, the allocation of which would, in the opinion of the authority, meet the accommodation needs and requirements of the households.

My Department does not hold information on allocations of the specific type requested by the Deputy.

Home Loan Scheme

Ceisteanna (687)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

687. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of persons that have made an application for Rebuilding Ireland loans; the number granted, refused and pending, respectively; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37731/19]

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. To the end of August 2019, the Housing Agency had assessed 4,900 applications. Of these, it had recommended 2,490 for approval and 2,410 to be declined.

My Department does not routinely collate data on the number of applications pending.

Home Loan Scheme

Questions Nos. 689 and 690 answered with Question No. 685.

Ceisteanna (688)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

688. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the extent to which Rebuilding Ireland loans are available, now and in the future; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37732/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

The Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan scheme remains fully operational and all local authorities are continuing to accept and process applications under scheme.  

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, bringing total funding to €563 million for 2018 and 2019 combined.

Questions Nos. 689 and 690 answered with Question No. 685.

Housing Issues

Question No. 692 answered with Question No. 685.

Ceisteanna (691)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

691. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the steps he can take to enable first-time or family home buyers to be in a better position to compete with investors in the purchase of their homes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37735/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

The key to resolving current issues, including affordable housing, in the housing market is increasing supply. This is why the Government is committed to increasing the supply of all types of housing including social, affordable and private. Institutional investors represent one aspect of the housing market and have a role to play in increasing overall supply. Whilst the role of institutional investors has grown, particularly in the urban apartment market segment, it remains relatively minor in terms of the overall residential sector as a whole.  

In overall terms, the key elements of the Government’s approach to addressing the issues in our housing sector are set out in the Rebuilding Ireland Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness, and Project Ireland 2040, which set out a comprehensive set of measures designed to restore the housing market to a sustainable equilibrium.

A generally accepted convention is that housing is deemed affordable where households, particularly low or moderate income households, are paying not much more than one third of their disposable income in meeting their accommodation needs. In order to support households that have difficulty in accessing affordable housing, a multi-stranded, targeted approach is being pursued in the areas of the country most affected. The measures are targeted at low to middle income households.

Some of the actions taken by Government include the trebling, to €310 million, the funding available for key facilitating infrastructure on local authority sites.  This fund supports the provision of homes to purchase or rent, under the Serviced Sites Fund (SSF).  This fund will facilitate the development of c. 6,200 homes that will be made available to purchasers or renters at rates which have significant discounts on market prices. To date, funding of €127 million has been allocated in support of 35 projects in 13 local authority areas. This funding will support the delivery of almost 3,200 homes for purchase.  Under the provisions of Part 5 of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009, the homes that will be made available for purchase will be targeted at first time buyers. 

Government is also committed to rolling out a new Cost Rental model. Under Cost Rental, rents cover the cost of delivering, managing, and maintaining the homes only.  I recently launched a development in Enniskerry Road, Dublin which is one of two ‘pathfinder’ pilot projects for Cost Rental (along with the St. Michael’s Estate site in Inchicore). Enniskerry Road will see the first units delivered with homes due to be completed for tenants in 2021. Tenants will pay €1,200 per month to live in the two bedroom apartments. With the resulting rents significantly below market levels, this will provide households on moderate incomes with access to a more affordable and stable form of rental tenure than would otherwise have been the case.

In terms of advancing the Cost Rental agenda, I have convened a working group within my Department, in conjunction with the Land Development Agency, the Housing Agency, and other bodies. This group is developing the policy framework for the broader Cost Rental model, to provide for a sustainable financing structure and to allow us commence delivery of units at the scale. Their work is being assisted by a research project that is being undertaken by the European Investment Bank on our behalf.

The new Land Development Agency will also contribute significantly to the delivery of affordable housing and has access to a tranche of State lands, which it is estimated could provide up to 10,000 homes.  This would include 40% of the delivery being for social and affordable homes to purchase or rent.

These initiatives complement other Government actions which help first-time buyers to buy a home, such as the Help to Buy Scheme and the Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan. While the State is playing its part in facilitating the additional supply of affordable housing, institutional investors also have a role to play in a more sustainable, long-term property system by providing much needed rental accommodation.  However, as Rebuilding Ireland makes clear, professional landlord investment can only be one aspect of a multi-pronged response to addressing current issues in the housing market.

Question No. 692 answered with Question No. 685.

Homelessness Strategy

Ceisteanna (693)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

693. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the degree to which he and his Department are in a position to monitor the number of families or persons becoming homeless or at risk thereof in all areas across the country; the specific measures he plans to deal with this problem; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37737/19]

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 most recently published report, in respect of July 2019, shows that there were a total of 10,275 individuals in emergency accommodation, including 6,497 adults and 3,778 dependants (including 1,721 families).

Supporting individuals and families experiencing or at risk of homelessness is a priority for the Government and for my Department in particular. Rebuilding Ireland, the Government’s Action Plan on Housing and Homelessness, includes a range of measures that are designed to address homelessness. In 2019, the Government increased the budget available to local authorities to deliver homeless services by over 25% to €146m. This funding supports the delivery of services to prevent families having to enter emergency accommodation and to ensure that those families in emergency accommodation are supported to identify and secure an independent tenancy within the shortest possible timeframe.   

Rebuilding Ireland is delivering results in supporting exits from homelessness. In 2018, 5,135 adults and their associated dependants exited homelessness into independent tenancies, an increase of over 8% on 2017.  In the first six months of 2019 2,825 adults and their dependants exited homelessness, which was a 21% increase on the numbers recorded during the corresponding period in 2018. 

I and my Department will continue to work proactively in partnership with local authorities and other stakeholders to ensure that homelessness is prevented as far as possible and to ensure that sustainable housing supports are provided for those individuals and families who are experiencing homelessness.