Fuel Allowance Applications

Ceisteanna (560)

Tom Neville

Ceist:

560. Deputy Tom Neville asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of a fuel allowance application by a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [46697/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

Fuel allowance is a means tested payment, payable to people who either live alone or only with certain qualified persons. The seasonal allowance currently runs from October to April and can be paid weekly or in two lump sums, the first in October and the second in January.

The person concerned has been in receipt of fuel allowance with effect from 12 October 2012, paid on a weekly basis during the fuel season. In September 2019, the person applied to have the payment method changed to the lump sums option and the first of these payments issued on 4 October 2019. The second and final payment for the current fuel season is due to be paid in January 2020.

The person concerned has been notified that their requested change of payment arrangement has been implemented.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Household Benefits Scheme

Ceisteanna (561)

Tom Neville

Ceist:

561. Deputy Tom Neville asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of a household benefits package application by a person (details supplied). [46698/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

An application for the Household Benefits Package was received from the person concerned on 23 August 2019. This application was subsequently withdrawn as the person concerned has been in receipt of the Household Benefit Package since 2011.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Building Regulations

Ceisteanna (562)

Seán Fleming

Ceist:

562. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government his plans to assist persons with disabilities in wheelchairs to ensure there is a minimum standard for toilets to be 2 m wide by 2 m long for wheelchairs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46326/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

The Building Regulations set out the legal requirements in Ireland for the construction of new buildings (including houses), extensions to existing buildings as well as for material alterations and certain material changes of use to existing buildings. The related Technical Guidance Documents (Parts A - M respectively) provide technical guidance on how to comply with the regulations in practical terms. Where works are carried out in accordance with the relevant technical guidance, such works are considered to be, prima facie, in compliance with the relevant regulation(s). Technical Guidance Documents are free to view/download on my Department's website at the link below: - https://www.housing.gov.ie/housing/building-standards/tgd-part-d-materials-and-workmanship/Technical-guidance-documents.

In this context, the Building Regulations (Part M Amendment) Regulations 2010, which came into effect on 1 January 2012, set out the minimum statutory requirements that a building must achieve in respect of access. The accompanying Technical Guidance Document M – Access and Use (2010) provides guidance on how to comply the requirements.

The requirements of Part M aim to ensure that regardless of age, size or disability:

- new buildings other than dwellings are accessible and usable;

- extensions to existing buildings other than dwellings are, where practicable, accessible and useable;

- material alterations to existing buildings other than dwellings increase the accessibility and usability of existing buildings, where practicable;

- certain changes of use to existing buildings other than dwellings increase the accessibility and usability of existing buildings where practicable; and

- new dwellings are visitable.

The objective in the case of the provision of sanitary facilities in buildings other than dwellings is to provide independently accessible facilities that meet the needs of people with a wide range of abilities. Technical Guidance Document M gives detailed guidance on both the provision and the design of sanitary facilities. Buildings (other than dwellings), with a net floor area per floor greater than 200 m2 must provide a wheelchair accessible unisex WC with minimum turning space of 1800 mm x 1800 mm. The general WC room size to accommodate this turning space would be in the order of 1800 mm (min) x 2500 mm (min).

Part M of the Building Regulations aims to foster an inclusive approach to the design and construction of the built environment. While the Part M requirements may be regarded as a statutory minimum level of provision, the accompanying technical guidance encourages building owners and designers to have regard to the design philosophy of universal design and to consider making additional provisions where practicable and appropriate.

Guidance on how to design, build and manage buildings and spaces so that they can be readily accessed and used by everyone, regardless of age, size, ability or disability is available in 'Building for Everyone, A Universal Design Approach', a National Disability Authority (NDA) publication, which may be accessed at www.nda.ie.

The Building Regulations, including Part M requirements, are subject to ongoing review in the interests of safety and the well-being of persons in the built environment and to ensure that due regard is taken of changes in construction techniques, technological progress and innovation.

Seanad Reform

Ceisteanna (563)

Peter Burke

Ceist:

563. Deputy Peter Burke asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the progress made in respect of the reform of Seanad Éireann, specifically extending the franchise to graduates of each university. [46492/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

The Programme for a Partnership Government includes an objective to pursue the implementation of the Manning Report, formally known as the Report of the Working Group on Seanad Reform. That report makes recommendations to restructure and reform the Seanad, including implementation of the 1979 amendment of the constitution to extend the university franchise at Seanad elections to graduates of other institutions of higher education in the State.

In April 2018, the Taoiseach established an Implementation Group on Seanad Reform (SRIG) to consider the Manning report and to develop specific proposals to legislate for Seanad Reform. The Group comprised Members of the Oireachtas with the assistance of outside experts, as appropriate. The Group's report, together with a draft Bill, was published in December 2018.

The SRIG Report contains recommendations in relation to electoral reform, including the extension of the university franchise at Seanad elections to graduates of other institutions of higher education in the State. The Report also contains recommendations relating to non-statutory reforms to the way the Seanad conducts its business. The Report was noted by Government at its meeting on 30 April 2019. Government also noted that the Report includes four statements from various groups outlining where their position was not in line with recommendations of the Report.

The Government will reflect on the views of the Oireachtas in considering the next steps to be taken following statements in both Houses of the Oireachtas. Statements on the Report of the SRIG were held in the Seanad on 24 September 2019 and in the Dáil on 7 November 2019.

Planning Guidelines

Ceisteanna (564, 579)

Darragh O'Brien

Ceist:

564. Deputy Darragh O'Brien asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the status of the progress of the working group established to review sustainable rural housing guidelines following the Flemish decree; if the reports prepared by it will be published; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46714/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Jack Chambers

Ceist:

579. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the status of work of the working group he set up following the Flemish decree case; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46372/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 564 and 579 together.

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

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

Planning Guidelines

Ceisteanna (565)

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Ceist:

565. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government his views on the requirement for allotments to be provided with new housing developments being incorporated into the planning system here in view of the community interest in same and the benefits in terms of sustainability and self-sufficiency; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46019/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

Policy objectives in relation to the provision of allotments are already incorporated into the Irish planning system. Part I of the First Schedule to the Planning and Development Act 2000, as amended, (the Act) sets out purposes for which objectives may be indicated in a Development Plan.

This part of the Act specifically provides for "Reserving land for use and cultivation as allotments and regulating, promoting, facilitating or controlling the provision of land for that use".

It is matter for local elected members of City and County Councils, in determining their Development Plans to decide whether to reserve land in accordance with Part 1 of the First Schedule to the Act.

City and County Development Plans must provide a strategic framework for the proper planning and sustainable development of the administrative area of the local authority and must be consistent with longer term planning and sustainable development aims, including those in the National Planning Framework (NPF).

This means that City and County Plans must carefully balance key principles such as securing compact and sustainable urban growth, which means reusing previously developed ‘brownfield’ land, building up infill sites and either reusing or redeveloping existing sites and buildings, in well serviced urban locations with also providing for amenities and the promotion of healthy communities and lifestyle choices, which may be facilitated by the provision of allotments, at some locations.

Departmental Reports

Ceisteanna (566)

Shane Cassells

Ceist:

566. Deputy Shane Cassells asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number, date of publication and details of post-enactment reports published by his Department since March 2011, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46095/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

I refer to the reply to Question No. 278 of 10 October 2019 which sets out the position in this matter.

Local Authority Housing Data

Ceisteanna (567)

Lisa Chambers

Ceist:

567. Deputy Lisa Chambers asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of houses built and completed by Mayo County Council in each of the years 2014 to 2018 and to date in 2019. [46105/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

Details of the number of social homes delivered in each local authority area, including by Mayo County Council, are available on my Department's website at the following link: https://www.housing.gov.ie/housing/statistics/housing-statistics. The most recent report sets out the position to the end of Quarter 2 of 2019. Details relating to delivery in Quarter 3 of 2019 will be published, as soon as they are validated.

Local Authority Housing Data

Ceisteanna (568, 569)

Lisa Chambers

Ceist:

568. Deputy Lisa Chambers asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of housing units in County Mayo in the planning process; and when these units are expected to be completed. [46106/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Lisa Chambers

Ceist:

569. Deputy Lisa Chambers asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of housing developments and housing units going through the planning process in County Mayo. [46107/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 568 and 569 together.

My Department does not collate planning statistics regarding the number of housing units in the planning process in individual counties in Ireland. However, planning authorities compile planning statistics annually for collation and publication on my Department’s website https://www.housing.gov.ie/planning/statistics/planning-statistics-1.

The statistics published relate to the total number of applications and decisions for all developments that require planning permission, broken down by year and planning authority but not by development type. Such information may be sought directly from the relevant planning authority.

In addition, the Central Statistics Office (CSO), as the national statistical office, compiles and makes available detailed data on a number of housing related issues including permissions granted and completions by development type and county. Data is available at the following link on the CSO website: https://www.cso.ie/en/statistics/construction/planningpermissions/.

With regard to the completion of housing units, it is the responsibility of the applicant who has been granted planning permission to complete the development within the approved period or the permission will expire.

Vacant Properties Data

Ceisteanna (570)

Lisa Chambers

Ceist:

570. Deputy Lisa Chambers asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of vacant housing units in County Mayo. [46108/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

My Department and local authorities have been proactive in dealing with vacant properties and all local authorities, including Mayo County Council have prepared Vacant Homes Action Plans. In addition, there are a number of schemes available to incentivise reactivating appropriate dwellings into the liveable housing stock.

In order to more accurately determine the levels of long-term, vacant but recoverable dwellings that can be re-introduced into the liveable housing stock, my Department, in conjunction with the Housing Agency, the CSO and the local government sector, developed a survey methodology in relation to locating vacant housing and a pilot field-based survey was undertaken across six local authorities (Cork City Council, Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council, Limerick City and County Council, Mayo County Council, Meath County Council, Waterford City and County Council.)

Having visually inspected some 1,065 properties in their administrative area, Mayo County Council identified 61 dwellings as being vacant following two visual inspections over the six month period of the survey. This equates to a vacancy rate of 5.2%, which is in line with what could be expected to allow “churn” in a normal housing market.

The areas targeted in Mayo as part of the pilot were both urban (e.g. Castlebar/Ballina) and rural (Bellavary/Ballinrobe), giving a better picture of vacancy throughout the County. Of the properties identified through the pilot survey, the Council has identified ownership in relation to 18 properties. A further 15 properties were not registered on the Property Registration Authority's Land Direct online service and further investigation is ongoing. Mayo County Council is continuing the process of contacting identified owners to discuss the various options available.

Mayo County Council has also developed the website vacanthomes.ie, on behalf of the local government sector to serve as a central portal for individuals to anonymously log possible vacant homes so that local authorities can follow up with the registered owners. The website has proved a useful tool in aiding local authorities identify potentially vacant homes, and latest statistics indicate that some 3,100 properties have been registered on vacanthomes.ie to date.

Local Authority Housing Waiting Lists

Ceisteanna (571)

Lisa Chambers

Ceist:

571. Deputy Lisa Chambers asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of persons on the social housing waiting list in County Mayo; and the length of time they have been waiting in tabular form. [46109/19]

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.

Below is the link to the summary report for 2018 which includes breakdowns by each local authority across a range of categories. Details on the length of time spent on the record of qualified households (waiting lists) can be found at tables 2.8 and A1.8 of the report.

It should be noted that the SSHA is a point in time exercise and does not necessarily reflect the dynamic nature of entry to and exit from the list.

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

My Department is currently finalising the 2019 summary with the Housing Agency and I expect to be in a position to publish the full detailed report shortly.

Housing Assistance Payment Data

Ceisteanna (572)

Lisa Chambers

Ceist:

572. Deputy Lisa Chambers asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of persons receiving HAP in County Mayo; and the number of persons that received HAP in County Mayo in each year since 2014. [46110/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

The Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) is a flexible and immediate housing support that is available to all eligible households throughout the State. At the end of Quarter 2 2019, there were over 48,000 households having their housing needs met through HAP.

HAP commenced in County Mayo on 16 November 2015. At the end of Q2 2019, the total number of active HAP tenancies in Mayo County Council was 1,201. It should be noted that this number is net of exits from the scheme over the period.

Details of the number of new households supported by HAP each year since its introduction in County Mayo are set out in the table below:

Year

New Households Supported

2015

18

2016

412

2017

512

2018

439

Q2 2019

168

Home Loan Scheme

Ceisteanna (573)

Lisa Chambers

Ceist:

573. Deputy Lisa Chambers asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of persons in County Mayo that applied for the Rebuilding Ireland home loan; the number of successful applicants; and the amount received by applicants under the scheme. [46111/19]

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.

I asked the Agency to compile figures on the numbers of valid applications that it has assessed and recommended for approval for Mayo County Council since the scheme begun. From 1 February 2018 to the end of October 2019, the Housing Agency assessed 82 applications. Of these, it recommended 32 for approval.

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 for Quarters 1 and 2 2019, including in relation to the number and value of mortgage drawdowns, is available on my Department's website at the following link: www.housing.gov.ie/housing/statistics/house-prices-loans-and-profile-borrowers/local-authority-loan-activity.

Emergency Accommodation Data

Ceisteanna (574, 575)

Lisa Chambers

Ceist:

574. Deputy Lisa Chambers asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of persons presenting as homeless in County Mayo in each of the past five years since 2014. [46112/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Lisa Chambers

Ceist:

575. Deputy Lisa Chambers asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the amount spent by Mayo County Council on emergency accommodation in each year since 2014. [46113/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 574 and 575 together.

My Department's role in relation to homelessness involves the provision of a national framework of policy, legislation and funding to underpin the role of housing authorities in addressing homelessness at local level. Statutory responsibility in relation to the provision of emergency accommodation for homeless persons rests with individual housing authorities.

My Department does not fund any homeless service directly but provides funding to housing authorities towards these costs. Under the funding arrangements, housing authorities must provide at least 10% of the cost of services from their own resources. Housing authorities may also incur additional expenditure on homeless related services outside of these funding arrangements with my Department. Therefore, the exact spend by housing authorities on homeless services, as well as the types of accommodation, are a matter for individual housing authorities in consultation with the Management Group of the relevant regional joint Homeless Consultative Forum.

County Mayo is included in the West region for the purposes of homeless administration, along with Galway and Roscommon. Financial reports from each of the homeless regions, setting out expenditure on homeless services, including emergency accommodation, are published on my Department's website at the following link: https://www.housing.gov.ie/housing/homelessness/other/homelessness-data. The table below sets out regional expenditure for the West region as contained in their End of Year financial reports for the years 2016 to 2018.

West regional expenditure

Year

2016

€2,661,009

2017

€3,763,587

2018

€5,888,769

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) and captures details of individuals utilising State-funded emergency accommodation arrangements that are overseen by housing authorities. These monthly reports are published on my Department's website at the following link: https://www.housing.gov.ie/housing/homelessness/other/homelessness-data.

The most recently published report, in respect of September 2019, shows that there were a total of 33 adults in emergency accommodation in County Mayo. Data on numbers presenting as homeless are not collated in my Department.

The table below sets out the numbers of adults in emergency accommodation in County Mayo from June 2014 to September 2019, the most recent month for which data is available.

Month

No. of Adults

Month

No. of Adults

Month

No. of Adults

Jun 2014

2

Apr 2016

4

Jan 2018

10

Jul 2014

3

May 2016

4

Feb 2018

16

Aug 2014

4

Jun 2016

7

Mar 2018

21

Sep 2014

4

Jul 2016

6

Apr 2018

24

Oct 2014

2

Aug 2016

8

May 2018

27

Nov 2014

2

Sep 2016

12

Jun 2018

25

Dec 2014

1

Oct 2016

11

Jul 2018

26

Jan 2015

2

Nov 2016

11

Aug 2018

23

Feb 2015

2

Dec 2016

12

Sep 2018

23

Mar 2015

2

Jan 2017

12

Oct 2018

29

Apr 2015

2

Feb 2017

9

Nov 2018

30

May 2015

3

Mar 2017

6

Dec 2018

39

Jun 2015

7

Apr 2017

8

Jan 2019

39

Jul 2015

6

May 2017

8

Feb 2019

32

Aug 2015

4

Jun 2017

12

Mar 2019

32

Sep 2015

7

Jul 2017

10

Apr 2019

31

Oct 2015

5

Aug 2017

9

May 2019

34

Nov 2015

8

Sep 2017

11

Jun 2019

36

Dec 2015

4

Oct 2017

12

Jul 2019

40

Jan 2016

5

Nov 2017

8

Aug 2019

33

Feb 2016

5

Dec 2017

8

Sep 2019

33

Departmental Offices

Ceisteanna (576)

Denis Naughten

Ceist:

576. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of vacant desk spaces available in accommodation allocated to his Department in Civil Service accommodation outside Dublin city; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46297/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

The civil service accommodation facilities allocated to my Department outside of Dublin are situated at office locations in Wexford, Ballina and Cork. In addition, Met Eireann, a division of my Department, has weather stations located throughout the country.

My Department is the lead tenant at Government Offices, Ballina and Carricklawn, Wexford with responsibility for coordinating engagement with the Office of Public Works (OPW) in respect of the day to day management of accommodation in these buildings, where a number of Government Departments are located. It should be noted that accommodation allocations are not fixed in each location and can change due to changing Government priorities and transfers of functions.

Currently, there are 19 desks available to my Department in Wexford and 11 in Ballina. My Department also has a small number of staff in Cork, where the accommodation is managed directly by the OPW and there are currently five desks available there. In addition, Met Eireann has one spare desk at its Belmullet Weather Station and three in its Malin Head weather station.

Given the significant business priorities to be met by my Department, these levels are likely to reduce in the future as additional resources are deployed to deliver key priorities as part of ongoing work force planning.

Housing Estates

Ceisteanna (577)

Charlie McConalogue

Ceist:

577. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the progress to date that has taken place regarding the taking-in-charge of housing developments with stand-alone treatment plants; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46323/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

In July this year my Department launched the multi-annual Developer Provided Water Services Infrastructure Resolution Programme. Bids were sought from local authorities around the country for funding under the Programme. The development of such a multi-annual funding programme was a key recommendation of the report on the National Taking-in-Charge Initiative that was published by my Department in December 2018.

The programme will enable the progressive resolution, on a priority basis, of substandard Developer Provided Water Services Infrastructure - commonly called DPI much of which was installed in housing estates during the building boom of the late 1990's and early 2000's. These privately owned and temporary facilities provide mostly wastewater treatment with a small number providing drinking water.

In a survey conducted by my Department in late 2015, it was estimated that just over 900 housing estates around the country depended on Developer Provided Infrastructure for their water services. However, in a workshop recently organised by my Department to inform local authorities of the new Resolution Programme it is now estimated that around 513 housing estates depend on such infrastructure.

In April 2016, my Department launched the National Taking in Charge Initiative. This was in recognition of the financial commitment that residents made in buying their homes, and the importance of ensuring that roads, open spaces, car parks, and service connections are completed and maintained to a satisfactory standard.

The purpose of the Initiative was to trial or demonstrate new approaches and working methods in supporting and accelerating overall national and local action on the process for taking-in-charge of housing estates - including those with Developer Provided Infrastructure.

The collaborative experience gained by the key stakeholders in implementing the Taking-in-Charge Initiative has now informed the new Resolution Programme. The objective of the Programme is to resolve this sub-standard component of our water services infrastructure in a sustainable manner, and ultimately to support residential estates being taking in charge. The National Development Plan published in February 2018, includes provision of €31 million for the period 2018-2021 to support the Programme.

The closing date for bids under the programme was 18 September 2019. A total number of 19 local authorities with Developer Provided Infrastructure in estates in their areas made applications under the programme for support.

My Department is currently completing a preliminary evaluation and clarification process on the bids received with the local authorities. The intention is to shortly set up an Expert Panel to independently evaluate the bids and recommend suitable projects for funding. This evaluation will take place over the coming months. Membership of the Panel will include Departmental, stakeholder and independent representation in the Chair.

The Expert Panel will make recommendations to me on the suitability of projects for funding under the programme based on the criteria set out in the Framework document issued to local authorities when requesting proposals.

The Panel will report to my Department when their examination of the bids is concluded. I expect to be in a position to make an announcement in early 2020 on approvals and allocations once that process is concluded and has been considered.

Local Authority Housing Rents

Question No. 579 answered with Question No. 564.

Ceisteanna (578)

Bobby Aylward

Ceist:

578. Deputy Bobby Aylward asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if social welfare payments received by a tenant, such as carer’s allowance, can be assessed as income for differential rents by a local authority (details supplied); if a national framework exists that governs local authorities to ensure consistency in this respect; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46362/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

The right of local authorities to set and collect rents on their dwellings is laid down in section 58 of the Housing Act 1966. The making or amending of such schemes is an executive function and is subject to broad principles set out by my Department, including that rent levels should be based on income and reflect tenants’ ability to pay.

Each local authority has its own separate differential rent scheme or schemes in operation. As rent is calculated using each local authority’s own formula, the schemes do vary in a number of ways from each other. This is particularly the case when it comes to what may or may not be considered as reckonable/ assessable income for rent purposes. Each local authority lists sources of income which they consider assessable for rent purposes and these can and do differ across the country at present.

Section 31 of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009, provides for the introduction of a national rents framework for social housing tenants. Considerable work has been carried out by my Department in developing a draft of such a framework, which has as its main aim the harmonisation of local authority rents whilst retaining the general principle of rents related to household income.

In line with the commitment given in Rebuilding Ireland, a review of the disparate systems of differential rent for social housing in place across local authorities has been carried out. The overall objective is to ensure that housing supports are fair and sustainable and prioritise those on lowest incomes. The issue of what constitutes income for rent purposes is being examined as part of this review.

I intend to bring a comprehensive package of social housing reform measures to Government in the near future and the relevant recommendations made in the review will be progressed as part of this package. I expect to be in a position to publish the completed review, as part of this broader process.

Question No. 579 answered with Question No. 564.