Early Childhood Care and Education

Ceisteanna (201)

Brendan Smith

Ceist:

201. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs her plans for the future of the programme support payment for the administration of the ECCE scheme in view of the roll-out of the national childcare scheme; her plans to ensure adequate payments are made to childcare providers to meet the substantial costs in administration; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [37940/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

My Department introduced the Programme Support Payment (PSP) in Summer 2017 to recognise the critical role that childcare providers play in the delivery of various early learning and care and school age childcare schemes, including the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) scheme. The PSP was created to recognise the work involved in the delivery of the schemes, beyond contact time with children. It is intended to assist with costs associated with administrative work, time spent registering children, recording attendance, assisting parents in understanding how they can most benefit from the DCYA-funded programmes and other non-contact activities.   

In 2019, €19.4m was available for the Programme Support Payment across all schemes including ECCE. This equated, for example, to an annual payment of €90 per ECCE child. It is paid in addition to capitation or subsidies.

The Programme Support Payment is secured in the base budget for 2020 and consideration is currently being given as to how it will be calculated and administered for the 19/20 programme year in the context of the change from the old targeted schemes to the new National Childcare Scheme.

Public Services Card

Ceisteanna (202)

Brendan Smith

Ceist:

202. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if it is still a requirement for parents to use a public services card to register for the national childcare scheme in view of the recent determination of the Data Protection Commission; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [37941/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

When it is fully up and running, applications for the National Childcare Scheme will be accepted both online and by post.  A Public Services Card (PSC) and verified MyGovID account are required to apply online only. The online application process will be introduced first, currently targeted for 29 October,  followed shortly thereafter with the paper based application process. 

In regard to the report by the Data Protection Commissioner (DPC) into the PSC, the Government and the Attorney General have carefully considered the findings of the report, including the legal basis for the use of the PSC by specified bodies or persons (such as the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs). The Government has agreed to challenge the findings of the report, as based on the legal advice received, it does not believe the DPC’s findings are correct in law. The advice of the Attorney General’s Office is that there is a strong legal basis for the continued public service wide use of the PSC. 

The Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection is continuing to engage with the DPC on this issue and is keeping the Department of Children and Youth Affairs updated. 

The Department of Children and Youth Affairs remains committed to delivering the National Childcare Scheme as planned and, in so doing, assisting thousands of families to access high quality and affordable early learning and care and school age childcare.

Security of the Elderly

Ceisteanna (203)

Timmy Dooley

Ceist:

203. Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development when a person (details supplied) who has a fully operational landline will be provided with the panic button they applied for some months ago; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37789/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Rural)

My Department is responsible for the Seniors Alert Scheme which encourages support for vulnerable older people in our communities through the provision of personal monitored alarms to enable them to continue to live securely in their homes with confidence, independence and peace of mind. The scheme is operated on my Department's behalf by Pobal, via a nationwide network of community organisations.

Following a review, a new version of the scheme was launched on 1st November 2017. A number of important new changes were introduced, including an extension of the eligibility criteria to include older people who live on their own for long periods during the day, and the introduction of free monitoring for the first year, following which a small charge will apply.

One of the eligibility requirements of the scheme is that the applicant is able to benefit from the equipment supplied.

I understand that the application by the person concerned was received by Pobal on 9 August 2019 and was approved the same day.  Following receipt of a call from the applicant, the supplier followed up the application with the community organisation on 5 September asking for details to be forwarded.  An engineer attended the installation on Monday 9 September.  However, technical difficulties were encountered in installing the system.  Neither the engineer nor the applicant’s telephone provider were able to establish a connection, as an analogue connection is required to install the landline unit.

A number of potential solutions have been proposed to the applicant to be able to avail of the scheme. Where a suitable landline connection is not available, a mobile GSM unit can be installed. This would incur a cost to keep the SIM card in credit similar to the cost incurred for fixed line rental on a landline.

Carer's Allowance Applications

Ceisteanna (204)

Brendan Griffin

Ceist:

204. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if a decision has been made on an application for a carer's allowance by a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [37759/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

Carer's allowance (CA) is a means-tested social assistance payment made to a person who is habitually resident in the State and who is providing full-time care and attention to a child or an adult who has such a disability that as a result they require that level of care. Two carers who are providing care on a part-time basis in an established pattern can also share a single CA payment and the annual Carer's Support Grant (CSG). Each carer must be providing care from Monday to Sunday but can do so on alternate weeks. All other qualifying conditions for CA must also be met.

An application for CA was received from the person concerned on 5 February 2019 which stated that she was sharing care for the care recipient every second week.

The application was referred to a local social welfare inspector (SWI) on 17 June 2019 to assess the level of care being provided, assess means and confirm that all the conditions for receipt of carer’s allowance are satisfied.

As full-rate CA was already paid to the second carer, the person concerned was contacted by telephone to explain that an overpayment would arise for the original carer, if CA was awarded from date of application. It was proposed to award CA from a current date, which the person concerned accepted. CA was awarded on 13 September 2019 with effect from 19 September 2019.  The first payment will issue to her nominated bank account on 19 September 2019.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Child Maintenance Payments

Ceisteanna (205, 208, 209, 210, 211, 212)

John Brady

Ceist:

205. Deputy John Brady asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the number of cases examined by the liable relatives unit; and the number of these cases which resulted in payments being commenced from said liable relative in 2018 and to date in 2019. [37780/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

John Brady

Ceist:

208. Deputy John Brady asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the running costs of the liable relatives unit in 2018. [37805/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

John Brady

Ceist:

209. Deputy John Brady asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the estimated cost involved in examining a case by the liable relatives unit. [37806/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

John Brady

Ceist:

210. Deputy John Brady asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the amount collected directly by her Department from liable relatives as a result of work by the liable relatives unit in 2018. [37807/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

John Brady

Ceist:

211. Deputy John Brady asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the procedures in place in circumstances in which a determination order is made by the liable relatives unit and not complied with by the liable relative; the enforcement powers the unit has; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [37808/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

John Brady

Ceist:

212. Deputy John Brady asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the content of the letters issued to liable relatives when the child with respect to whom the one parent family payment is being made turns seven years of age . [37809/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 205 and 208 to 212, inclusive, together.

The issue of family maintenance payments is first and foremost a private matter for the people concerned.

Where a one parent family payment (OFP) is awarded, the Department seeks to trace the other parent, referred to as the liable relative, in order to ascertain whether he or she is in a financial position to contribute towards the cost of the OFP.  

The legislative basis for the implementation of the Liability to Maintain Family Provisions is set out in Part 12 of the Social Welfare Consolidation Act 2005, as amended.  The methods of assessment of the liable relative’s ability to pay are specified in detail in Regulations (S.I. 571 of 2006,  S.I. 142 of 2007 as amended).

In making a determination order, the Liable Relatives Unit will assess the financial position of each liable relative, based on the net weekly income after applicable allowances have been taken into account, as set out in the Regulations. 

A liable relative is given the option to commence making payments to the OFP recipient or to the Department.  Payments made directly to the OFP recipient are assessed as means and may have an impact on their weekly payment from the Department. 

Where a liable relative fails to commence payments, the Department is empowered to apply to the District Court for an order directing that contributions be paid.  The Department may also apply to the District Court to have an Attachment of Earnings Order made against a liable relative.

In 2018, the Department examined 8,244 cases. Some 1,039 liable relatives commenced making payments or made additional payments to the OFP recipient.  In a further 65 cases, the liable relatives began paying the Department directly.

In 2019 to end August, the Department examined 9,834 cases. Some 1,001 liable relatives commenced making payments or made additional payments to the OFP recipient.  In a further 69 cases, the liable relatives began paying the Department directly.

The amount collected directly by the Department from liable relatives as a result of work by the Liable Relatives Unit in 2018 was €269,949.

I am advised that it is not possible to disaggregate the running costs of the Liable Relatives Unit or to give the estimated costs involved in examining a case from the Department’s overall administration costs.

Any changes to the current arrangements would have to be considered in an overall policy and budgetary context.  

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Invalidity Pension Appeals

Ceisteanna (206)

Brendan Griffin

Ceist:

206. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if a decision has been made on an invalidity pension backdating appeal in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [37798/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

I am advised by the Social Welfare Appeals Office that an Appeals Officer, having fully considered all of the available evidence, decided on 7 February 2019 to allow the appeal of the person concerned by way of a summary decision and award Invalidity Pension from 2 September 2018.  Under social welfare legislation the decision of an Appeals Officer is final and conclusive and may only be reviewed by an Appeals Officer in the light of new evidence or new facts. 

I am advised that the person concerned has submitted additional evidence seeking backdating of Invalidity Pension beyond 2 September 2018.  This information was received by the Appeals Office on 12 September 2019 and the Appeals Officer will now review the decision.  The person concerned will be contacted when the review of his appeal has been finalised.

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

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Carer's Benefit Applications

Questions Nos. 208 to 212, inclusive, answered with Question No. 205.

Ceisteanna (207)

Niamh Smyth

Ceist:

207. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if the case of a person (details supplied) will be reviewed and the person advised regarding same; if the case will be viewed as an exceptional case by her Department; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [37801/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

Carer's Benefit (CARB) is a PRSI based payment, made to persons who are providing full-time care and attention to a person who has such a disability that they require that level of care.  It is payable for a maximum of 104 weeks for each person being cared for.

The Deputy states that the person concerned recently applied for carers and was refused on the grounds that her last stamp wasn’t paid here. Although periods of insurance in another EU member state may be taken into account to meet the PRSI contribution conditions, the last week of insurance must be paid in Ireland.

Before a decision can be made on entitlement to CARB, evidence must be provided in respect of the care recipient’s care requirement, the level of care the carer provides, the carer’s hours of employment and their PRSI record. 

The PRSI contribution condition requires that the carer must have the following:

- 39 reckonable contributions in the relevant tax year or

- 39 reckonable contributions paid in the 12-month period before the start of CARB or

- 26 reckonable contributions paid in the Relevant Tax Year and 26 contributions paid in the year before that.

As my Department has limited details of the person concerned it is not possible to provide a specific answer in relation to the person concerned.  Should the Deputy wish to receive further information to the person concerned please note the identifying details of that person should be supplied.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Questions Nos. 208 to 212, inclusive, answered with Question No. 205.

Child Maintenance Payments

Ceisteanna (213)

John Brady

Ceist:

213. Deputy John Brady asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if her attention has been drawn to the fact that more than half of lone parents in receipt of either the one-parent family payment or jobseeker's transition do not receive maintenance payments; her views on same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [37810/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The Family Law Acts place a legal obligation on parents to maintain their children.  In cases where the family unit has broken down these obligations continue to apply.  Relevant maintenance payments can be arranged either directly between the parties themselves, or with the assistance of supports from the Department of Justice and Equality, such as the Family Mediation Service and the Legal Aid Board, or ultimately through the Courts. The enforcement of the obligation on parents to maintain their children is currently a matter for the Department Justice and Equality.  

Within my own Department, the Social Welfare Acts provide that where certain welfare payments are in place (specifically, one-parent family payment, known as OFP) an assessment may be made against a ‘liable relative’ requiring them to make a contribution in respect of maintenance.  

In every case where OFP is awarded, the Department seeks to trace the other parent or liable relative in order to ascertain whether s/he is in a financial position to contribute towards the cost of the OFP.  

The methods of assessment of the liable relatives ability to pay are specified in detail in Regulations (S.I. 571 of 2006 and S.I. 142 of 2007).  The financial situation of each liable relative is assessed in detail.  The assessment is based on the net weekly income (i.e. income from all sources less income tax and PRSI).  Any maintenance currently being paid to the OFP recipient is also taken into account.  

All liable relatives who are assessed with a maintenance liability are issued with a Maintenance Contribution Assessment setting out the amount assessed.  The amount assessed can be reviewed where new information comes to light about the financial or household circumstances of the liable relative.  The liable relative can either commence/ increase the current payments to the OFP recipient or can make their contribution directly to the Department.  Decisions on the amounts assessed can be appealed to the Social Welfare Appeals Office.

Any changes to the current arrangements would have to be considered in an overall policy and budgetary context.

Child Maintenance Payments

Ceisteanna (214)

John Brady

Ceist:

214. Deputy John Brady asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection her views on the fact that lone parents with a maintenance order from the courts in which payment is taken by her Department as household means against other social welfare supports may not be actually paid; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [37811/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The issues relating to maintenance are currently a matter for my colleague, the Minister for Justice and Equality, who has responsibility for the Family Law Acts, which govern maintenance requirements.  

Existing Family Law Acts place a legal obligation on parents to maintain their children.  In cases where the family unit has broken down these obligations continue to apply.  Relevant maintenance payments can be arranged either directly between the parties themselves, or with the assistance of supports from the Department of Justice and Equality, such as the Family Mediation Service and the Legal Aid Board, or ultimately through the Courts. The enforcement of the obligation on parents to maintain their children is a matter for the Department Justice and Equality.

My Department operates a range of means tested social assistance payments.  Social welfare legislation provides that the means test for these payments takes account of the income and assets of the person and a spouse/partner, if applicable.  Income and assets include income from employment, self-employment, occupational pensions, maintenance payments as well as property owned (other than the family home) and capital such as savings, shares and other investments.

For social assistance schemes, such as jobseeker’s allowance, one-parent family payment, disability allowance and the state pension non-contributory, maintenance payments (including maintenance payments made to or in respect of a qualified child) are assessed by first disregarding any housing costs incurred (up to €4,952 per annum or €95.23 per week), and then assessing the remainder at 50%.  Budget 2019 introduced a maintenance payment disregard for the Working Family Payment (WFP). With a value of €95.23 per week, this brings WFP into line with other social assistance schemes.

Accordingly, the total value of any maintenance payments is never assessed as means for these weekly income support payments. Therefore, the total income received by the family (social welfare payment and maintenance payment combined) will be higher than someone not receiving maintenance payments.

The purpose of means testing is to ensure that resources are targeted to those with the greatest financial need.  The current method of means assessment ensures that appropriate levels of support are available to those who need them, across the wide range of income supports available from my Department.  

Customers should always advise my Department of any change in their circumstances and their means may be reviewed if necessary.  For example, a customer in receipt of OFP who was previously in receipt of maintenance which has ceased should seek to have that maintenance reinstated and where this is not possible the customer should bring this to the attention of the relevant Officer(s) in my Department who may review the payment.

One-Parent Family Payment Data

Ceisteanna (215)

John Brady

Ceist:

215. Deputy John Brady asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the number of persons in receipt of the one-parent family payment. [37820/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

One-Parent Family Payment (OFP) is a payment for men and women under 66 who are bringing children up without the support of a partner.  As at month-end July 2019 there are 39,606 families with 65,711 children in receipt of the OFP.

Working Family Payment Data

Ceisteanna (216)

John Brady

Ceist:

216. Deputy John Brady asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the number of persons in receipt of the working family payment. [37821/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

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

There are currently 52,074 persons (families) in receipt of WFP.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy. 

Invalidity Pension Applications

Ceisteanna (217)

Peter Burke

Ceist:

217. Deputy Peter Burke asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of an invalidity allowance review for a person (details supplied). [37830/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

On receipt of additional medical evidence submitted in support of the review of the claim, the deciding officer has decided that the medical conditions for the scheme are satisfied and the lady in question has been awarded invalidity pension with effect from 07 March 2019.  Payment will issue to her nominated bank account on 03 October 2019.  Any arrears due from 07 March 2019 to 02 October 2019 (less any overlapping social welfare payment) will issue as soon as possible.  She was notified of this decision on 16 September 2019.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Blind Person's Pension Data

Ceisteanna (218)

Maurice Quinlivan

Ceist:

218. Deputy Maurice Quinlivan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the number of persons in Limerick city and county in receipt of the blind pension. [37834/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The number of persons in receipt of Blind Pension for Limerick city and county is currently 47. 

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Social Welfare Benefits Data

Ceisteanna (219)

Maurice Quinlivan

Ceist:

219. Deputy Maurice Quinlivan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the number of persons in Limerick city and county in receipt of both the invalidity pension and the living alone allowance together. [37835/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

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

As of August 31, 2019 there were 499 recipients of both IP and the living alone allowance residing in the county of Limerick, including Limerick city.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Medical Aids and Appliances Provision

Ceisteanna (220)

John Brady

Ceist:

220. Deputy John Brady asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection her views on the low uptake of hearing aids; her further views on whether cost is a barrier to low and middle-income workers when it comes to accessing hearing aids and the severe repercussions on health and well-being as a result; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [37864/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The uptake of grants towards the purchase of hearing aids under the Departments Treatment benefit scheme has seen a 100% increase over the last 10 years, with almost €80m spent on the scheme over that period.

Access to hearing aids is provided for under the Departments PRSI scheme and the HSE parallel scheme, which provides medical card holders with access to free hearing aids.  The availability provided under the two schemes offers access to quality hearing aids to all sectors of society, either completely free or with a significant grant payable towards their cost.

 The Department encourages those who require hearing aids to avail of the relevant scheme to ensure they get the appropriate device to match their needs. 

Any changes to the current arrangements would have to be considered in an overall policy and budgetary context.

Medical Aids and Appliances Provision

Ceisteanna (221)

John Brady

Ceist:

221. Deputy John Brady asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if she will consider restoring the hearing aid grant available under treatment benefit to pre-FEMPI levels as has happened with optical and dental benefits; her plans to make access to hearing aids more affordable and equitable for persons with hearing loss; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [37865/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The Department’s Medical Appliance scheme, which provides grants to assist in the purchase of hearing aids, is available to those who have the required number of PRSI contributions, and their dependant spouse / partners. 

The number of applications for hearing aids under the scheme has been rising in recent years, from 7,500 grants paid in 2009 to 14,600 in 2018. The extension of the scheme to the self employed in March 2017 has also proved to be very popular.

Access to hearing aids is provided for both under the Department's PRSI scheme and the HSE's parallel scheme, which provides medical card holders with access to free hearing aids.  The two schemes provide access to quality hearing aids to all sectors of society, irrespective of their income category.

The numbers claiming under the scheme over recent years and the payments made by my Department bear testimony to the important contribution the scheme is making for PRSI contributors and their dependant spouse/partners who are experiencing hearing loss.  

Any changes to the current arrangements in respect of these benefits would have to be considered in an overall policy and budgetary context.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Disability Allowance Applications

Ceisteanna (222)

John McGuinness

Ceist:

222. Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if a disability payment will be approved for a person (details supplied); and if the matter will be expedited. [37902/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The person concerned submitted an application for disability allowance (DA) on 29 May 2019.  Their application, based upon all the evidence submitted, was refused on medical grounds as it was not found that this gentleman was substantially restricted in taking up employment.

The person concerned was notified in writing of this decision on 11 September 2019 and was also notified of their right to request a review of this decision or to appeal it to the independent Social Welfare Appeals Office (SWAO).

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Carer's Allowance Applications

Ceisteanna (223)

Willie Penrose

Ceist:

223. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the position regarding an application for a carer's allowance by a person (details supplied); if same will be expedited; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [37943/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

Carer's allowance (CA) is a means-tested social assistance payment made to a person who is habitually resident in the State and who is providing full-time care and attention to a child or an adult who has such a disability that as a result they require that level of care.

I confirm that my department received an application for CA from the person concerned on 11 June 2019. 

The application was awarded to the person concerned on 16 September 2019 and the first payment will issue to her nominated bank account on 19 September 2019. 

Arrears of allowance due from 13 June 2019 to 18 September 2019 will also issue 19 September 2019.

The person concerned was notified on 16 September 2019 of this decision, the reason for it and of her right of review and appeal.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

EU Legislation

Ceisteanna (224)

Peter Fitzpatrick

Ceist:

224. Deputy Peter Fitzpatrick asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government his plans to ensure that all the rights in the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights are fully respected and promoted in all the actions of his mandate; and the steps he will take to help remedy the housing crisis in Europe. [37899/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

While the question has a broad ambit, I can only answer with reference to my own remit in terms of my responsibility for housing in this jurisdiction. The right to housing assistance is referred to in Article 34(3) of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union dealing with social security and social assistance and it provides that:

In order to combat social exclusion and poverty, the Union recognises and respects the right to social and housing assistance so as to ensure a decent existence for all those who lack sufficient resources, in accordance with the Rules laid down by Union law and national laws and practices.

The Charter rights are subject to certain limits and many of these rights and principles are defined by reference to existing law and practice at the EU or national level.  In accordance with Article 51 of the Charter, its provisions are addressed to the EU institutions and “to the Member States only when they are implementing Union law”.  The Court of Justice has clarified this means that the fundamental rights guaranteed in the legal order of the European Union are “applicable in all situations governed by European Union law, but not outside such situations.” 

In Ireland the many substantive rights regarding housing arising from legislation, including the right to be assessed for social housing support and, if qualified, placed on a waiting list for a social house or to avail of the housing assistance payment and be placed on a transfer list, are entirely consistent with the principles of the Charter.

The policy of this Government is that housing supports should be provided to those most in need and we do this in a variety of ways through, for example, the provision of the housing assistance payment, the provision of local authority owned housing, the funding of Approved Housing Bodies in the provision of housing supports and the provision of funding for homeless services.  Indeed, it should be noted that the housing budget for 2019 is just under €2.4 billion. This is the highest level of funding ever provided for housing purposes in any given year in Ireland.

Continued delivery of social housing through Rebuilding Ireland and the development and implementation of further policies and measures as required in the future is the best way to ensure that the State continues to fully meet its obligations to those who need assistance to provide a home for themselves and their families.

Question No. 225 answered with Question No. 37.

Local Infrastructure Housing Activation Fund

Ceisteanna (226)

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

226. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the expenditure on LIHAF in 2018 and from 1 January to date in September 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37775/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

As a key initiative of the Rebuilding Ireland Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness, the Local Infrastructure Housing Activation Fund (LIHAF) is designed to fund the provision of public off-site infrastructure to relieve critical blockages and enable housing developments to be built on key sites at scale.

Funding of €200 million was originally made available under LIHAF, of which €150 million would be funded by the Exchequer with local authorities to match fund €50 million. 30 projects received final approval, at a total cost of €195.71 million, of which €146.69 million will be funded by the Exchequer with local authorities funding the balance. Details on all of the LIHAF projects by local authority area, budget allocation, project description, and housing delivery have been published on the Rebuilding Ireland website and are available at the following link:

www.rebuildingireland.ie/LIHAF

In terms of LIHAF expenditure, most projects have been at the design and planning stages, and this is reflected in the level of expenditure to date. However, more projects are now progressing to construction stage and it is expected that the expenditure will increase significantly towards the end of 2019 and into 2020.

Drawdown of LIHAF grant funding from the Department commenced with €1.603m in Exchequer funding provided in 2017, a further €6.814m in 2018 and €12.10m to date in 2019.  Each of these Exchequer amounts was matched by 25% local authority funding. In line with the LIHAF administrative cycle, local authorities will submit claims of expenditure for Q3 expenditure over the coming weeks.