Housing Assistance Payment

Ceisteanna (361)

Tom Neville

Ceist:

361. Deputy Tom Neville asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if he will address a matter regarding HAP tenancies in the case of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40288/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

Under the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) scheme, a tenant sources their own accommodation in the private rented sector. The accommodation sourced by tenants should be within the prescribed maximum HAP rent limits, which are based on the household size and the rental market within that area.  The tenancy agreement is between the tenant and the landlord and is governed by the Residential Tenancies Acts.  The Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) was established as an independent statutory body under the Act to operate a national tenancy registration system and to facilitate the resolution of disputes between landlords and tenants.

For tenancies in Local Electoral Areas (LEAs) which have not yet been designated as a Rent Pressure Zone, the Residential Tenancies (Amendment) Act 2015 provided that rent reviews can only take place every 24 months rather than every 12 months, unless there has been a substantial change in the nature of the accommodation that warrants a review.  The review of rent will still be undertaken on the basis of the market rent and the landlord must also provide three examples of rents for similar properties in a comparable area to demonstrate this.

Tenants must be given 90 days’ notice of new rent and can make an application for dispute resolution to the RTB if they have not been given the required notice, or if they feel the rent increase is in excess of the market rent.  These provisions have effect notwithstanding any provision to the contrary in a lease or tenancy agreement.

Each local authority has statutory discretion to agree to a HAP payment up to 20% above the prescribed maximum rent limit to secure appropriate accommodation for a household that requires it.  It is a matter for the local authority to determine if the application of the flexibility is warranted on a case by case basis.

While there is no legislative provision precluding HAP supported households contributing towards their monthly landlord rent, local authorities have a responsibility to ensure that tenancies are sustainable and are advised not to provide HAP support to tenancies where the household would not be in a position to meet the rental costs involved.

At the end of Q2 2019, there were more than 48,000 households in receipt of HAP support and over 28,000 separate landlords and agents providing accommodation to households supported by the scheme.

Election Management System

Ceisteanna (362)

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

362. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the status of the modernisation of the electoral registration process which commenced in December 2018; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40321/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

Arising from a commitment in the May 2016 Programme for a Partnership Government to examine the voter registration process, a set of policy proposals was developed based on the 2016 Report of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on the Proposed Electoral Commission.  The proposals include, among other things, the introduction of a simplified registration process; a move to a rolling register; a reduction in the number of application forms; online registration as an optional alternative to paper-based registration; and the move from household-based to individual registration.  Verification of identity through the possible use of Personal Public Service Numbers (PPSNs) is also proposed. 

I launched the public consultation phase of the modernisation project in December 2018 and it ran until 15 March 2019.  A total of 187 submissions were received from individuals, public representatives, local authorities, political parties and community and voluntary and business organisations.  All responses are available on my Department's website and I intend to publish a report on the public consultation very shortly.

The responses to the consultation are informing ongoing work in my Department on various elements of the project, including the simplification of the application form and the development of a draft General Scheme of an Electoral (Amendment) Bill, which I intend to bring to Government by the end of this year.  The outcome of the pilot, during recent polls, of the voter.ie platform by the Dublin Local Authorities, which provided the option of online registration and amendment of details for those with a MyGovID, is also being considered in the context of the wider modernisation project.

Electoral Commission Establishment

Ceisteanna (363)

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

363. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the status of the establishment of an electoral commission; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40322/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

The establishment of an Electoral Commission is a key commitment in the Programme for Partnership Government.  

My Department prepared a Regulatory Impact Analysis (RIA) in respect of the establishment of an Electoral Commission, which was published on 27 December 2018, and followed by a public consultation process. The RIA set out four options, having regard to a commission's legislative status and the functions that might be assigned to it. Responses to the public consultation indicated support for its establishment on a statutory basis, with a phased transfer of existing functions.

The Government approved the establishment of a statutory Electoral Commission on 17 July 2019. The Electoral Commission will bring together several electoral functions in an independent, dedicated public body.  It will include a new research and advisory function, which will inform the Government and Oireachtas in their consideration of reform to electoral law.

Work on the drafting of the General Scheme of an Electoral Commission Bill is currently underway in my Department and I anticipate this to be completed by the end of 2019.

Local Authority Housing

Ceisteanna (364)

Darragh O'Brien

Ceist:

364. Deputy Darragh O'Brien asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the additional resources allocated to local authorities with rent pressure zones for short-term letting regulation arising from the 1 July 2019 introduction of new rules in the sector; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40387/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

My Department has been in regular contact with relevant planning authorities regarding the implementation of the new short-term letting legislation, both before and subsequent to its commencement on 1 July 2019.  

In order for the new legislation to have the desired effect and achieve its objective of returning much-needed accommodation to the long-term rental market, it is essential that relevant planning authorities adopt a pro-active approach to enforcement. This will add to the planning enforcement workload of the affected planning authorities, necessitating dedicated additional staffing and complementary resources.

In this regard, my Department wrote to planning authorities on 4 June 2019 seeking estimated resource funding requirements for the implementation and enforcement of the new provisions. My Department wrote again to planning authorities on 2 July and 26 September seeking new or revised estimates following my designation of additional Rent Pressure Zones in certain parts of the country, which extended the application of the short-term letting provisions to these areas. 

Since then, further communication has taken place between my Department and all relevant planning authorities seeking clarification and refinement of the resourcing requests, as well as in relation to the practical implementation of the short-term letting provisions. 

My Department is actively engaging with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform in relation to securing the required sanctions to provide funding to local authorities to facilitate the wider implementation and enforcement of the short-term letting regulations.

Social and Affordable Housing Data

Ceisteanna (365)

Darragh O'Brien

Ceist:

365. Deputy Darragh O'Brien asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of units to be provided through the enhanced long-term social housing leasing scheme by county in 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40388/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

A range of housing options are necessary to ensure a supply of accommodation to meet different types of social housing need. Harnessing the off-balance sheet potential of private investment in social housing is an important objective of the Government and the social housing targets that are set out in Rebuilding Ireland over the period to 2021 reflect the ambition in that regard.

My Department has introduced the Enhanced Long Term Social Housing Leasing Scheme in order to target newly built or yet to be built houses and apartments for long term leasing, and to target property developers and investors who are in a position to deliver housing at a reasonable scale in order to supplement delivery under Pillar 2 of Rebuilding Ireland.

The first call for proposals for the Enhanced Leasing Scheme was open from January to April 2018 and a total of 33 submissions were received. The second call for proposals closed on 25th October 2018 and a total of 22 submissions were received.

The first Agreement for Lease was signed by Dublin City Council in Q2 2019 for 23 new social housing homes, with expected delivery in 2020. A number of other proposals are currently in the due diligence or proposal stage.

My Department and the Housing Agency continue to work with local authorities and proposers in respect of the Enhanced Leasing Scheme, and the leasing schemes generally, in order to ensure maximum delivery of high quality leased properties to meet the needs of households on social housing waiting lists. To this end, the Enhanced Long-Term Social Housing Leasing Scheme is in full operation and accepting proposals, complementing the range of other delivery mechanisms operated by my Department, and it is expected that further Agreements for Lease will be signed by the end of 2019.

The Enhanced Leasing Scheme is one of a number of social housing leasing schemes operated by my Department under the Rebuilding Ireland programme, designed to increase the general supply of social housing in an off-balance sheet manner. These schemes are collectively generating significant interest and progress on leasing generally is tracked on the Rebuilding Ireland status reports published on a quarterly basis, which are available on my Department's website at the following link: www.housing.gov.ie/housing/social-housing/social-and-affordble/overall-social-housing-provision.

Home Loan Scheme

Ceisteanna (366)

Darragh O'Brien

Ceist:

366. Deputy Darragh O'Brien asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of approved applicants, refused applicants and applicants sent for further information, respectively, under the Rebuilding Ireland home loan scheme, by local authority; the funding and value of loans issued under the scheme by local authority to date, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40389/19]

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. Housing Agency recommendations are then considered by the Credit Committee in each local authority, which issues loan approvals.  Applications where further information is requested are not tracked.

I have asked the Agency to compile figures on the numbers of valid applications that it has assessed and recommended to approve/decline since the scheme begun.  From 1st February 2018 to the end of September 2019, the Housing Agency had assessed 4,910 applications.  Of these, it had recommended 2,585 for approval and 2,325 for decline.

Local Authority 

Applications Assessed

Recommended to Approve 

Recommended to Decline 

Carlow County   Council

72

28

44

Cavan County   Council

18

9

9

Clare County   Council

82

35

47

Cork City   Council

208

94

114

Cork County   Council

387 

206

181

Donegal County   Council

50

22

28

Dublin City   Council

576

353

223

Dún   Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council

127

73

54

Fingal County   Council

701

408

293

Galway City   Council

102

55

47

Galway County   Council

177

61

116

Kerry County   Council

126

56

70

Kildare County   Council

190

100

90

Kilkenny   County Council

53

28

25

Laois County   Council

116

58

58

Leitrim County   Council

16

4

12

Limerick City   & County Council

133

83

50

Longford   County Council

52

25

27

Louth County   Council

134

54

80

Mayo County   Council

74

32

42

Meath County   Council

310

211

99

Monaghan   County Council

53

18

35

Offaly County   Council

49

21

28

Roscommon   County Council

53

22

31 

Sligo County   Council

59

28

31

South Dublin   County Council

365

194

171

Tipperary   County Council

132

61

71

Waterford City   & County Council

95

36

59

Westmeath   County Council

48

32

16

Wexford County   Council

152

79

73

Wicklow County   Council

200

99

101

Total 

4,910

2,585

2,325

My Department publishes information on the overall number and value of (i) local authority loan approvals and (ii) local authority loan drawdowns. Local authority approval means that an official letter of offer has been sent to a borrower (and therefore relates to a specific property and loan amount). Information on the RIHL for Quarter 1 2019, including in relation to the number and value of mortgage approvals and drawdowns, is available on the Department's website at the following link: www.housing.gov.ie/housing/statistics/house-prices-loans-and-profile-borrowers/local-authority-loan-activity. The data for Quarter 2 2019 will be available in the coming weeks.

Departmental Data

Ceisteanna (367)

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

367. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the estimated home ownership rates; if data in his Department in relation to the trend of home ownership rates in recent years will be provided; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40394/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

In terms of home ownership, the authoritative data in this regard is the data published as part of each census of population carried out by the Central Statistics Office.

The most recent census undertaken, Census 2016, reported that 67.6% of households owned their own home, with or without a loan or mortgage.  This compared to a rate of 69.7% in 2011. 

Social and Affordable Housing

Ceisteanna (368)

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

368. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the status of the roll-out of the affordable housing scheme and serviced sites fund; the number of housing schemes approved; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40396/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

Part 5 of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009 was commenced in June 2018 to provide a statutory basis for the delivery of affordable housing for purchase. Regulations in respect of the making of Schemes of Priority were signed on 12 March 2019, and these were issued to local authorities on 22 March 2019.  The purpose of a Scheme of Priority is to set out the affordable purchase arrangements at local authority level.  This includes the methodology that will be applied by local authorities to determine the order of priority to be accorded to eligible households where the demand for such affordable dwellings exceeds the number available. 

In line with the legal requirements of the Affordable Dwelling Purchase Arrangements, further regulations will be put in place over the coming months regarding eligibility and other matters. When the operational procedures for the scheme are finalised, and before dwellings are made available for purchase under the scheme, a programme of communication will be undertaken by my Department and local authorities.   

In order to support the delivery of discounted homes to buy or rent, this Government has committed €310 million under the Serviced Sites Fund, from 2019 to 2021, to provide infrastructure to support the delivery of some 6,200 homes.  To date, funding of €127 million, in support of 35 projects in 14 local authority areas, has been allocated for infrastructure works on sites that will support the delivery of almost 3,200 homes.

Details of all SSF funded infrastructure projects can be found on the Rebuilding Ireland website at the following links:  

https://rebuildingireland.ie/news/minister-murphy-approves-10-local-authority-sites-affordable-housing-serviced-sites-fund/.

https://rebuildingireland.ie/news/minister-murphy-approves-funding-of-e84m-to-support-delivery-of-1770-affordable-homes-under-the-ssf/.

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.

In addition to making discounted homes available for purchase, the Government is also committed to the development of ‘Cost Rental’ in Ireland. Under the Cost Rental model, rents cover the cost of delivering, managing, and maintaining the homes only, less both the profit margin seen in the private rental sector and any financial supports provided by the State/local authorities.  With the resulting rents significantly below market levels, this would mean that many households on moderate incomes will have access to a more affordable and stable form of rental tenure than would otherwise have been the case.

In order to drive delivery, two early mover pilot projects are being advanced, one at Enniskerry Road, in Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown, and the other at Emmet Road in Inchicore. In tandem with these pilot projects, my Department is developing a national policy approach to Cost Rental for Ireland to ensure future projects can be delivered at a scale and in a manner that will have the desired positive impact on the Irish housing sector. 

These new schemes are complemented by other key Government affordability initiatives, including the Rebuilding Ireland home loan and the Help to Buy Scheme.   In addition,  the Land Development Agency's  initial portfolio of sites will have the potential to deliver 3,000 affordable homes and the Local Infrastructure Housing Activation Fund ( LIHAF) will support more than 2,300 affordable homes on mainly publicly owned lands, while 5,600 further homes will benefit from a LIHAF related cost reduction, some of which have already come on stream.

In overall terms, programmes are in place under which some 18,000 affordable homes or homes with a LIHAF related reduction will be delivered, with 15,000 households already supported under the Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan or the Help to Buy Scheme.

Office of Public Works Projects

Ceisteanna (369, 370)

Seán Fleming

Ceist:

369. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the ongoing position regarding discussions between the Office of Public Works in respect of a project (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40208/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Seán Fleming

Ceist:

370. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the position in relation to the consideration of an analysis (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40207/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Culture)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 369 and 370 together.

I am advised that the local authority is progressing proposals to develop improved parking facilities for members of the public wishing to visit an adjacent national monument. As part of its preliminary analysis the local authority has produced a Visual Impact Statement and has given some initial briefing on the project to my Department and to the Office of Public Works as the relevant heritage authorities with responsibility for the national monument. Depending on the final location selected for the development, it may require my consent, as Minister, under section 14 of the National Monuments Act 1930 (as amended). The matter is still at an early stage and no application for such consent has yet been presented to my Department.

Departmental Funding

Ceisteanna (371, 372)

Timmy Dooley

Ceist:

371. Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the reason additional funding provided to bodies under the auspices of her Department in the cultural and heritage sector is ring-fenced in view of the independent statutory remit of certain bodies; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40306/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Timmy Dooley

Ceist:

372. Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the amount of increased funding provided in each case to bodies under the auspices of her Department in the cultural and heritage sector for the past four years; the amount of such funding which was ring-fenced for a specific area or task; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40307/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Culture)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 371 and 372 together.

Details of funding provided to those bodies under the aegis of my Department are published annually in the Revised Estimates Volumes https://www.gov.ie/en/collection/e20037-revised-estimates, and in the Department's Appropriation Accounts which can be found on my Department's website at https://www.chg.gov.ie/about/finance-evaluation/appropriation-account/.  

All allocations to bodies under the aegis of my Department are allocated for purposes consistent with the remit of the individual bodies and are made in accordance with the relevant public financial procedures. The Deputy will be aware that Individual bodies may also engage in additional non-core activities that are consistent with their remit.  From time to time my Department may also allocate additional funds to a body under its aegis for a specific purpose without prejudice to the independence of the body concerned.  

Details of the income and expenditure of each of these bodies are also available in the published reports and accounts of the individual bodies which are published on their respective websites.  The Deputy may also wish to refer to the annual Performance Delivery Agreements with my Department which are prepared in accordance with the Code of Practice for the Governance of State Bodies. 

I trust that the foregoing is of assistance to the Deputy and can assure him that my officials will be happy to assist him with any specific queries he may wish to put forward in relation to any programme or activity undertaken by any of these bodies during the period in question.