In accordance with the Housing (Traveller Accommodation) Act 1998, housing authorities have statutory responsibility for the assessment of the accommodation needs of Travellers and the preparation, adoption and implementation of multi-annual Traveller Accommodation Programmes (TAPs) in their areas. My Department’s role is to ensure that there are adequate structures and supports in place to assist the authorities in providing such accommodation, including a national framework of policy, legislation and funding.
In line with the commitment in Rebuilding Ireland, and reflecting the disappointing level of overall funding drawdown in recent years, the Housing Agency, in 2017, commissioned a review of funding for Traveller-specific accommodation. This review had regard to targets contained in local authority Traveller Accommodation Plans (TAPs) and actual delivery, the current status of accommodation funded and funding provided for accommodation maintenance and other supports.
Following its consideration of the review, the National Traveller Accommodation Consultative Committee recommended the establishment of an independent expert group to review the effectiveness, implementation and operation of relevant legislation and to put forward proposals to improve delivery of Traveller accommodation nationally. The Expert Group submitted its report in July 2019.
The 32 recommendations made by the Expert Group to accelerate the delivery of Traveller accommodation are comprehensive and wide ranging, and include proposals aimed at:
- addressing research deficiencies, including how information is gathered and used;
- removing any potential delays and obstacles in the planning system in terms of delivery;
- increasing resources and delivery capacity; and
- strengthening governance arrangements.
I am currently considering the report and recommendations of the Expert Group, with a view to implementing appropriate actions and policies that will improve the delivery of Traveller accommodation nationally. The priority is to ensure that full use is made of the increasing level of funding available for investment in Traveller accommodation. The report has been published and is available on my Department's website at the following link:
In the context of the 32 recommendations, my Department is also liaising with key stakeholders on issues arising. The Expert Group’s report has also been shared with the National Traveller Accommodation Consultative Committee and members of the Committee are considering the report and will provide submissions to my Department, as appropriate.
I am working to complete this process as soon as possible and set out a road map for implementation of agreed recommendations, with a view to accelerating and increasing the delivery of much needed Traveller accommodation, drawing on the increasing funding available.