State Claims Agency Data

Ceisteanna (152)

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

152. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance a breakdown of pay outs by the State Claims Agency by the various settlement channels including awards through the Personal Injuries Assessment Board, by court award or by settlement in each year since 2015, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48998/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

The State Claims Agency (SCA) is part of the National Treasury Management Agency, which is a body under the aegis of the Minister for Finance. As such, the SCA have supplied the information included in this report, and confirmed that it is correct as of 31 October 2019. 

The following figures relate to claims which have been concluded and where damages have been paid across the Clinical and General Indemnity Schemes.

The first table contains information regarding the damages paid on claims which have been concluded from 2015 to 2019 year to date, broken down by year the payment was issued. Here, damages refer to the compensation paid to a claimant in personal injury claims for the pain and suffering arising from a physical and/or mental injury (known as General Damages) and/or the compensation paid to a claimant for out of pocket expenses incurred such as loss of earnings, vehicle damage, etc.

Transaction Date

Number of Claims 

Damages

2015

1,101

€164,940,956

2016

1,239

€180,141,716

2017

1,342

€216,282,039

2018

1,574

€245,281,393

2019 YTD

1,298

€249,277,307

Total

6,326

€1,055,923,411

The SCA has advised me that payments can be made during multiple years with respect to a single claim and as such will contribute to the claims counts in each of the relevant payment years over the life cycle of the claim. The Total Claim Count shows the number of claims for which payments were made between 2015 and 2019 without such reporting duplication.  Total number of unique claims is 6,326.

The following table details damages paid from 2015 to 2019 year to date on claims concluded, broken down by case outcome.

Case Outcome

Number of Claims

Damages 

Settlement Agreed

5,637

€1,002,963,260

Injuries Board Assessment Accepted

468

€12,079,958

Lodgement/tender accepted

97

€3,718,541

Court Award

83

€35,025,293

Case Discontinued/Claim Statue Barred

26

€1,809,102

Case Dismissed

7

€125,045

Indemnity Received

5

€135,886

Section 17 - Offer Accepted

3

€66,324

Total

6,326

€1,055,923,411

The Case Outcome heading provides details with regards to the outcome of the claim. The subheadings are broken out as follows:

- Settlement Agreed: A negotiated settlement has been agreed with the Plaintiff for damages. This category includes some claims that go to court and are either settled on the steps of the court or are settled during the court case but before the case concludes.

- Injuries Board Assessment Accepted: A negotiated settlement has been agreed with the Plaintiff for damages or an Injuries Board award accepted.

- Indemnity Received: The SCA obtained a full indemnity, in respect of the claim, on behalf of the relevant State Authority from the Insurers of a negligent Third Party motorist.

- Case Discontinued/Statute Barred: The claim against the State Authority was discontinued and/or withdrawn by the Plaintiff, or the Statute of Limitations rendered the claim Statute Barred and prevented the claim from proceeding.

- Outside SCA Remit: These claims were not managed by the State Claims Agency.

- Case Dismissed: A judge has dismissed a Plaintiff’s claim at the conclusion of the trial.

- Court Award: A judge has made an award of damages to the Plaintiff at the conclusion of the trial.

- Lodgement/tender accepted: A lodgement is where a defendant paid money into Court while a tender is an offer to settle a claim for a specified amount and is based on a statutory provision.

- Section 17 - Offer Accepted: Section 17 is a settlement offer made pursuant to a statutory provision - Section 17 of the Civil Liability & Courts Act 2004. 

Tax Credits

Ceisteanna (153, 154, 155)

John Brady

Ceist:

153. Deputy John Brady asked the Minister for Finance the rationale for the abolition of the one parent family tax credit announced in budget 2014. [49001/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

John Brady

Ceist:

154. Deputy John Brady asked the Minister for Finance if there is an alternative in place for separated parents who contribute to their children and share custody in view of the fact that they can no longer access the one parent family tax credit. [49002/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

John Brady

Ceist:

155. Deputy John Brady asked the Minister for Finance the amount saved from the one parent family tax credit being abolished. [49003/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 153 to 155, inclusive, together.

The One-Parent Family Tax Credit (OPFTC) was examined by the Commission on Taxation in 2009, and its role in supporting the labour market participation of single and widowed parents was acknowledged. The Commission therefore recommended that the credit should be retained, but that it should be allocated only to the primary carer of the child.

The OPFTC was replaced by the Single Person Child Carer Credit (SPCCC) in 2014. It is essential to review all tax reliefs, credits and incentives in order to ensure that they are properly targeted and, if necessary, re-focused in order that they can achieve their intended socio-economic objectives. A feature of the OPFTC was that it could be claimed by multiple individuals in respect of a single child, resulting in a considerable annual cost of over €141 million by 2013, attributable to over 104,000 claimants. This was unsustainable and the OPFTC was therefore replaced by the SPCCC from 1 January 2014. Since then, only one credit is available in respect of any qualifying child, and an individual who is a primary claimant in respect of more than one qualifying child can only receive one credit.  Agreement as to who will be the primary carer of a child is a matter for the parents or guardians, and is defined for the purpose of the credit as being the person who the qualifying child is resident with for the greater part of the year.  Where the custody of a child is shared equally between two individuals, the legislation provides that the primary claimant shall be the person in receipt of the child benefit payment from the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection. However this is a secondary provision, and the main criteria for allocation of the credit is the residence provision.  If a child is resident with one parent for the greater part of the year (i.e. for a period greater than 6 months), that person should qualify as the primary carer of the child and therefore be entitled to claim the credit in their own right as primary claimant. If the primary claimant does not wish to claim the credit they may surrender their entitlement to a secondary claimant.

In 2017, the most recent year for which data are available, the cost of the SPCCC was almost €94 million, attributable to over 67,000 claimants. These figures, and costs for each year going back to 2004, are published in the Cost of Tax Expenditures document on Revenue’s website at the link: https://www.revenue.ie/en/corporate/information-about-revenue/statistics/tax-expenditures/costs-expenditures.aspx Issues concerning this credit are outlined in detail in the review of the SPCCC conducted by my Department in 2015 contained in the Report on Tax Expenditures, available online at the link: http://budget.gov.ie/Budgets/2016/Documents/Tax_Expenditures_Report_pub.pdf

I am satisfied that the SPCCC in its current form is targeting limited State resources to where they are most needed. However, I am conscious of the significant contribution made by taxpayers generally to the rebalancing of the public finances, and of the challenges that individuals continue to face notwithstanding the improving economic conditions. 

It is the Government’s position that earners start to pay the marginal rate of tax at too low an income level and it is committed to reducing excessive tax rates for low and middle income earners while also keeping the tax base broad. As a result of changes in recent Budgets, USC rates have been reduced to 0.5%, 2% and 4.5%.  The income level at which taxpayers begin to pay the higher rate of tax has also been increased by €2,500 and there have been increases in both the Home Carer Tax Credit and the Earned Income Tax Credit.

Tax Code

Ceisteanna (156)

Niall Collins

Ceist:

156. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Finance the status of the allocation of flat rate expenses for teachers (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49066/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

Over the past 18 months, Revenue has been conducting a comprehensive review of the administratively based Flat Rate Expenses (FRE) regime.  Revenue has advised me that the purpose of the FRE review, which involved engagement with relevant representative bodies, is to ensure that the expenses granted to each employment category remain justified and appropriate to modern day employments and work practices.  Each category of FRE allowance is being examined separately in the light of the legislative requirements of section 114 TCA 1997, which provides expenses are tax deductible only if they are wholly, exclusively and necessarily incurred by the employee in the performance of the duties of his or her employment and are not reimbursed by the employer.

Revenue has also advised me that its FRE review is ongoing but is now nearing conclusion, with an expected completion date by end year.

As I informed the House during the Report Stage debate on the Finance Bill last week, while I am aware of the effect this will have on those who are impacted by the change, I also need to respect the independence of the Revenue Commissioners. They are, though, keenly aware of the issues and concerns of those that may be affected by the outcome of the review.

Having regard to the fact that we are coming closer to the date on which any changes on foot of the review are due to be implemented, I have, as I committed previously to do, written to Revenue seeking a factual update on the review. Once this process of engagement with Revenue has been completed, I will be in a position to comment further on the matter, and conscious of the timeline involved, I anticipate that I will be able to do so very shortly.

VAT Rate Application

Ceisteanna (157)

Michael Moynihan

Ceist:

157. Deputy Michael Moynihan asked the Minister for Finance the status of the proposed VAT rate for food supplements; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48558/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

Irish VAT legislation does not provide a zero rate for food supplement products; instead they are subject to the standard rate of VAT (23%). Shortly after the introduction of VAT, Revenue allowed the zero rate to be applied to certain food supplement products (vitamins, minerals and fish oils). This concessionary approach expanded as the market developed over the years and resulted in the zero rating by Revenue of further similar products, including products other than vitamins, minerals and fish oils.

Revenue has acknowledged that the scope of its concessionary approach broadened progressively over time to the point that it had become increasingly difficult to maintain an effective distinction between food supplement products that could benefit from the zero rate and those that were standard rated. Revenue acknowledges that this concessionary approach was unsatisfactory and led to diverging and inconsistent practices, and there were continuous efforts by elements in the industry to expand its scope.

Following complaints from the Irish Health Trade Association (IHTA), Revenue conducted a comprehensive review of the VAT treatment of food supplement products, including getting an expert report on the definition of food for the purposes of the VAT Consolidation Act. The expert prepared a detailed, scientific report that concluded that food supplement products are not conventional food. Based on the expert report and its own legal analysis, Revenue concluded that the status quo was no longer sustainable. Following the review, Revenue engaged with my Department concerning policy options that might be considered in the context of Finance Bill 2018. The relevant legislation was not changed in Finance Bill 2018 and therefore Revenue issued new guidance in December 2018 which removed the concessionary zero rating of various food supplement products with effect from 1 March 2019.

Following representation from Deputies and from the industry, I wrote to Revenue outlining my plans to examine the policy and legislative options for the taxation of food supplement products in the context of Finance Bill 2019. Revenue responded by delaying the withdrawal of its concessionary zero rating of the food supplement products concerned. This allowed time for my Department to carry out a public consultation on the taxation of food supplement products.

The public consultation ran from 18 April to 24 May 2019 and sought input from a wide range of interested parties, including from health and nutrition experts and the Minister for Health. In total, 121 submissions were received. This included submissions from individuals, businesses, lobby groups and a political party. The results of the consultation were included in the 2019 Tax Strategy Group paper on VAT. The options set out in the TSG paper are the only options available; either the standard rate is maintained, or the reduced rate is introduced.

I am making provision in Finance Bill 2019 to apply the 13.5% rate of VAT to all food supplement products, which will take effect from 1 January 2020. Foods for specific groups such as infant follow-on formulae and infant foods, foods for special medical purposes and specially formulated foods (e.g. total diet replacement for weight control) will remain zero rated. These are well established and defined categories of food that are essential for vulnerable groups of the population. Fortified foods, such as yoghurts and cereals fortified with vitamins and minerals, will also remain zero rated as they are food.

Folic acid, vitamin and mineral products for human oral use which are licenced or authorised as medicines by the Health Products Regulatory Authority (‘HPRA’) will remain zero rated under a different VAT provision.

Property Tax Review

Ceisteanna (158)

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

158. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Finance the status of his work in the context of the publication of the scrutiny report on the review of local property tax by the Oireachtas Committee on Budgetary Oversight. [48566/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

Earlier this year, the review of the Local Property Tax was completed by my Department in conjunction with the Departments of the Taoiseach, Public Expenditure & Reform and Housing, Planning & Local Government and the Revenue Commissioners and the report was published in April (available at https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/1e5c76-review-of-local-property-tax/).  In accordance with its terms of reference, the review focused on the impact of house price movements on LPT liabilities under a series of scenarios involving different rate and tax band structures. The review also included an examination of the outstanding recommendations of the 2015 Thornhill review of the Local Property Tax. It included a consultation process to enable all interested parties and individuals to submit their views on the future of the LPT.

The Review Group found significant but geographically uneven increases in residential property price levels which made it difficult to identify a scenario that would deliver on the condition I set that there should be relative stability for all taxpayers in their LPT liabilities and that any increases should be modest, affordable and fair.

Having considered the findings of the review report, I decided to defer the valuation date from 1st November 2019 to 1st November 2020, and this was effected by ministerial order (S.I. No. 166/2019 - Finance (Local Property Tax) Act 2012 (Section 13(3)) Order 2019). This gave sufficient time for the Budgetary Oversight Committee to consider the review report in the context of the Committee’s recommendations in its report on LPT of 21 March 2018.  Importantly, as a result of my decision, the LPT bills of those liable for the tax will not be increasing in 2020. 

I met with the Committee in June to discuss the review of the Local Property Tax. The Committee also had a separate meeting with officials of my Department. I received the Committee's scrutiny report on the LPT review in September. In order to bring this matter forward we will need to introduce amending legislation and the Committee’s report will provide a valuable input to that work. I will revert to Government with proposals for changes to the Local Property Tax in a timely way. Any such change would need to be legislated for early in 2020 so that the Revenue Commissioners can be in a position to have the necessary administrative and technical arrangements in place in time in respect of the 2021 LPT year.

Central Bank of Ireland

Ceisteanna (159)

Colm Brophy

Ceist:

159. Deputy Colm Brophy asked the Minister for Finance the powers he has to direct the Central Bank to change or modify its macroprudential rules. [48600/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

I assume the Deputy is specifically referring to the Central Bank macro prudential rules on residential mortgage lending. 

These mortgage lending measures have been put in place by the Central Bank by way of regulations made by the under section 48 of the Central Bank (Supervision and Enforcement) Act 2013.  While the 2013 Act requires the Bank to consult me before making any such regulation (including any amending regulation), the Central Bank is nevertheless the statutory authority for the making of these regulations and I do not have any authority to direct the Bank to change or otherwise modify regulations it makes under that statutory function.

In this context, the Deputy may wish to note that in a recent speech the new Governor, Gabriel Makhlouf, indicated that the macro prudential mortgage measures are now a permanent feature of the mortgage market and that it is also a core component of the Bank's overall macro prudential toolkit.  The Central Bank has committed itself to reviewing the calibration of the measures on an annual basis, to ensure they continue to meet their stated objectives of strengthening bank and borrower resilience and avoiding a damaging credit-house price spiral.  I am advised that the outcome of the 2019 mortgage measures review can be expected from the Bank in early December.

Special Savings Incentive Scheme

Ceisteanna (160)

Colm Brophy

Ceist:

160. Deputy Colm Brophy asked the Minister for Finance the cost to the Exchequer of the special savings incentive accounts scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48621/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

The special saving incentive account (SSIA) scheme opened on 1 May 2001 and entry closed on 30 April 2002. The accounts fully matured after a five year period between 1 May 2006 and 30 April 2007.

The total cost of the scheme was €3.061bn. The following is a breakdown of the yearly cost of the scheme;

Year

Cost

2001

€71m

2002

€433m

2003

€532m

2004

€548m

2005

€597m

2006

€440m

2007

€440m

Total

€3,061m

VAT Rate Application

Ceisteanna (161)

Pearse Doherty

Ceist:

161. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance if he will consider waiving VAT on repair costs associated with properties affected by mica; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48685/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

VAT is a tax on consumption and is applied to supplies made by a person and not to supplies received by them.  This is a feature of the VAT system itself, and as the Deputy will be aware it is not possible under EU VAT law, with which Irish VAT law must comply, to introduce VAT exemption based on services received, nor to introduce an exemption based on the recipient of a service. Therefore it is not possible to waive VAT on repair costs associated with properties affected by MICA.

Tax Yield

Ceisteanna (162)

Brendan Griffin

Ceist:

162. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Finance the value of capital gains tax, capital acquisition tax and dividend withholding tax collected in County Kerry in each of the years from 2015 to 2018 (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48743/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

I am advised by Revenue that the Capital Gains Tax receipts from individuals located in County Kerry for the years requested by the Deputy can be found at link: https://www.revenue.ie/en/corporate/documents/statistics/receipts/net-receipts-by-county.pdf

The same information for Capital Acquisitions Tax can be found at link: https://www.revenue.ie/en/corporate/documents/statistics/registrations/geographical-breakdown.pdf

Revenue has also confirmed that information on Dividend Withholding Tax paid in respect of dividends on shares held by shareholders located in County Kerry is not separately available. This is because the relevant information is returned by companies rather than individual shareholders.

In general, as the Deputy will be aware, ringfencing certain taxes collected to be used for a specific purpose and in a specific location reduces the flexibility of the Government to prioritise and allocate funds as necessary across the State.

Insurance Industry

Ceisteanna (163)

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

163. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if the Central Bank monitors the number of insurance companies operating in the market; the number of insurance companies that have left the market each year since 2014, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48787/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

In response to the Deputy’s question, my officials contacted the Central Bank for the information requested.  The Bank informed my Department that, since the Central Bank Reform Act 2010, which amended the Central Bank Act 1942, it has no role in promoting or monitoring competition in the Irish insurance market.  However, the Central Bank was in a position to provide the number of insurance firms that have exited the market since 2014 (as notified to us under the relevant European Insurance Directives), on the basis of their historical registers.  The Central Bank has provided the following table.

Head Offices and EC Branches

Freedom to Provide Services

Year Revoked

Life

Non-life

Year Revoked

Life

Non-life

2014

2

6

2014

8

14

2015

3

8

2015

3

12

2016

1

3

2016

5

15

2017

1

4

2017

5

41

2018

4

10

2018

7

29

2019

1

11

2019

9

46

Total

12

42

Total

37

157

While the figures do not show the number of entrants into the Irish market for those years, they do suggest that there has been an increased trend for non-life companies operating on a freedom of services basis to leave the Irish market, particularly between the years 2017 and 2019. There may be a number of factors related to this, including undoubtedly smaller operators not seeking to continue to do business because of requirements to seek a new authorisation as a result of the decision of the UK to exit the EU.  However, it is also possible that the difficult financial position that a number of non-life insurers have found themselves in because of the problems being experienced from the unstable claims environment may also be a factor.  

Regardless of what these figures suggest, I believe that if we are to attract new non-life insurers to operate into the Irish market, we must continue to implement the recommendations of the Cost of Insurance Working Group (CIWG).  In particular, I believe it is important to emphasise that the single most essential challenge that must be overcome if there is to be a sustainable increase in the availability and affordability of insurance is to bring the levels of personal injury damages awarded in this country more in line with those awarded in other jurisdictions. In this regard, the work of the soon-to-be-established Personal Injures Guidelines Committee as part of the Judicial Council will be essential in achieving that objective. 

The first important step required by the legislation is for the Chief Justice to make the necessary appointments to the Personal Injuries Guidelines Committee. I therefore welcome last week’s announcement by Chief Justice Clarke that he has designated the seven judges that will sit on the Committee.  I understand that the designate committee will commence its activities on an informal basis shortly.  This is an important development as it demonstrates that the Judiciary is giving this matter the priority I believe it deserves.  While I appreciate that the development of a new set of personal injury award guidelines is the prerogative of the Judiciary, I believe that much work has already been done, in particular the PIC benchmarking exercise, which should assist the Judiciary in completing this work as soon as possible.  The Government is willing to provide the Judiciary with any background assistance, such as input from the Cost of Insurance Working Group, should they think that necessary.  I also understand that PIAB has written to the Judiciary to offer its expertise and assistance for the purpose of this recalibration exercise.

Finally, as I have stated before, I believe that if the issue of the level of awards in this country is addressed, that the problems facing particular businesses and community groups as a result of particular insurers either withdrawing from the market or increasing the price of insurance should recede.

Insurance Data

Ceisteanna (164)

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

164. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if the Central Bank attempts to monitor the number of businesses that cannot obtain a quote for public and employer liability insurance; the number of businesses that could not obtain insurance in each year since 2016, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48788/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

My officials consulted with the Central Bank of Ireland on the Deputy’s question.  In response, the Bank indicated that it does not have a role in monitoring the number of businesses that cannot obtain a quote for public and employer liability insurance and therefore does not have such data.

I am very much aware that there are certain businesses that are having difficulties arising from either the affordability or even the availability of insurance, particularly in specific sectors such as leisure, hospitality and recreation. In this regard, the work of the Cost of Insurance Working Group (CIWG), particularly its Cost of Employer and Public Liability Insurance Report highlights these difficulties. Therefore, there is a clear understanding of the impact of this problem on businesses across the country.

As the Deputy is aware, neither I, nor the Central Bank, have any influence over the pricing of insurance products.  This position is reinforced by the EU framework for insurance, which expressly prohibits Member States from adopting rules, which require insurance companies to obtain prior approval of the pricing or terms and conditions of insurance products. A further constraint is the fact that, for constitutional reasons, the Government cannot direct the courts as to the award levels that should be applied.

The Deputy should note however that through the work of the CIWG, there is a recognition that the single most essential challenge, which must be addressed if we are to overcome the current cost and availability problems, is to provide for a sustainable reduction in insurance costs.  As you are aware, the Government with the support of all parties in the Oireachtas prioritised the passing of the Judicial Council Act 2019.  This Act provides for the establishment of a Personal Injuries Guidelines Committee upon the formal establishment of the Judicial Council.  This Committee is tasked with introducing new guidelines to replace the Book of Quantum.

A key step to moving this matter forward is for the Chief Justice to make the necessary appointments to the Personal Injuries Guidelines Committee.  I therefore welcome last week’s announcement by Chief Justice Clarke that he has designated the seven judges that will sit on this Committee.  I understand that the designate committee will commence its activities on an informal basis shortly.  This is an important development as it demonstrates that the Judiciary are giving this matter the priority I believe it deserves. I also understand that PIAB has written to the Judiciary to offer its expertise and assistance for the purpose of this recalibration exercise.

In conclusion, I would like to assure the Deputy that important reforms are taking place and that I am confident that if the level of awards are reduced as a result of the work of the Personal Injuries Guidelines Committee, then the insurance premium and coverage issues that are being experienced by certain businesses should recede.

Insurance Industry

Ceisteanna (165)

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

165. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the number of customers impacted by the exit of a company (details supplied) from the market; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48790/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

At the outset, it is important to note that as Minister for Finance, I am responsible for the development of the legal framework governing financial regulation and therefore my Department does not have access to the type of information being sought by the Deputy.  

My officials contacted the Central Bank on this matter and were advised that pursuant to Section 33AK of the Central Bank Act 1942, it is prevented from disclosing any confidential information obtained through the performance of its functions or the exercise of its powers.  Therefore, they say that they cannot comment on individual firms or release supervisory information relating to regulated entities.  

It also should be noted that the decision taken by the company in question to exit the Irish market was not communicated to me, Minister of State D’Arcy, nor my officials. Neither has there been any communication by the company to my Department subsequent to this decision.

From media reports which the Deputy will also be familiar with, I understand that the relevant company has decided to no longer write new business.  However, it is reported that all existing policies will be honoured and claims will be paid.  I also understand from the reports that the relevant company has blamed losses “caused by stiff competition and the high volume of claims in the Irish market” for its decision.  

While insurers may enter and exit markets regularly, it would appear that there is a trend currently for insurers to exit the Irish market.  The media reports in relation to this particular company corroborate what Minister of State D’Arcy has heard from other insurers, in particular when he met with a number of UK underwriters in London who had recently pulled out of the Irish leisure insurance market.  It also reinforces why the single most essential challenge, which must be overcome if there is to be a sustainable increase in the availability and affordability of insurance, is to bring the levels of personal injury damages awarded in this country more in line with those awarded in other jurisdictions. In this regard, the work of the soon-to-be-established Personal Injures Guidelines Committee as part of the Judicial Council will be essential in achieving that objective. 

I therefore welcome last week’s announcement by Chief Justice Clarke that he has designated the seven judges that will sit on the Guidelines Committee.  I understand that the designate committee will commence its activities on an informal basis shortly.  This is an important development as it demonstrates that the Judiciary are giving this matter the priority I believe it deserves.  While I appreciate that the development of a new set of personal injury award guidelines is the prerogative of the Judiciary, I believe that much work has already been done, in particular the PIC benchmarking exercise, which should assist the Judiciary in completing this work as soon as possible.  The Government is willing to provide the Judiciary with any background assistance, such as input from the Cost of Insurance Working Group, should they think that necessary.  I also understand that PIAB has written to the Judiciary to offer its expertise and assistance for the purpose of this recalibration exercise.

Finally, as I have stated before, I believe that if the issue of the level of awards in this country is addressed, that the problems facing particular businesses and community groups should recede.  Indeed, I would recall that those UK underwriters whom the Minister of State met expressed a willingness to return to the Irish market if this was achieved.

Corporation Tax

Ceisteanna (166)

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

166. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the corporation tax received by industry or sector in each year since 2015, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48845/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

Details of corporation tax received by industry sector for the years 2013 to 2018, the most recent year for which data are available, are published in tabular form on Revenue’s website at the following link: https://www.revenue.ie/en/corporate/information-about-revenue/statistics/receipts/receipts-sector.aspx

This publication also includes information on net income tax, VAT and capital gains tax receipts by industry sector.

The specific information requested by the Deputy is provided in the table.   

Sector

2018

€ million

2017

€ million

2016

€ million

2015

€ million

Agriculture, forestry & fishing

76.47

43.95

39.40

41.22

Mining & Utilities

149.08

45.03

40.37

102.09

Manufacturing

3,219.00

2,090.23

1,873.84

1,818.34

Construction

262.65

171.06

153.35

113.21

Wholesale & retail trade; repair of motor vehicles & motorcycles

768.05

1,107.69

993.02

1,139.32

Transportation & Storage

282.99

271.31

243.22

174.84

Accommodation & food services

118.61

93.26

83.60

57.54

Information & communication

2,094.50

1,367.68

1,226.09

1,345.28

Financial & insurance activities

2,105.40

2,302.55

2,064.18

1,600.81

Real estate activities

129.47

100.78

90.34

91.54

Professional, scientific & technical activities

341.14

358.98

321.81

230.00

Administrative & support service activities

772.05

197.25

176.83

122.16

Public administration & defence

-0.06

4.80

4.30

8.08

Education

7.35

3.27

2.94

-2.30

Human health & social work activities

-7.34

-17.17

-15.40

-7.91

Other activities and sectors

67.64

60.36

54.11

38.79

Total Receipts

10,387

8,201

7,352

6,873

Money Laundering

Ceisteanna (167)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

167. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Finance the remit his Department has with the newly established Register of Beneficial Ownership and the requirements of S.I. No.110 of 2019. [48932/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

Statutory Instrument 110 of 2019, the European Union (Anti-Money Laundering: Beneficial Ownership of Corporate Entities) Regulations 2019, was signed into law on 22 March 2019. These Regulations transpose Article 30 of the Fifth Anti-Money Laundering Directive and make legislative provision for the obligation that was first established in 2016, that corporate entities must obtain and hold information on their beneficial ownership – that is, the people who ultimately own or control the company.

The Regulations also provide for the establishment of a central register of beneficial ownership information. This central register is operated under the aegis of the Companies Registration Office and began accepting filings on 29 July 2019.

The purpose of the Regulations is to prevent the use of corporate entities as vehicles for money laundering or terrorist financing and to provide competent authorities with access to information on the true ownership and control of corporate entities. Therefore, the obligation to file information with the central register applies to all companies formed under the Companies Act and societies registered under the Industrial and Provident Societies Acts, with the exception of companies listed on regulated markets that are subject to disclosure requirements consistent with European Union law or subject to equivalent international standards which ensure adequate transparency of ownership information.

The remit of the Department of Finance was to develop the necessary Regulations in cooperation with the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation as part of the measures taken to transpose the Fifth Anti-Money Laundering Directive. While the relevant legislation was signed by myself as Minister for Finance, the register is maintained by a “Registrar of Beneficial Ownership of Companies and Industrial and Provident Societies”, as provided for under Regulation 18 of SI 110/2019, who has been appointed by the Minister for  Business, Enterprise and Innovation.

Insurance Fraud

Ceisteanna (168)

Niamh Smyth

Ceist:

168. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Finance if the case of a person (details supplied) will be reviewed; the measures he is taking to curb insurance fraud; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48969/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

At the outset, the Deputy should note that it would not be appropriate for me, as Minister for Finance, to comment on individual cases such as the one she refers to in the details supplied.

In relation to the Deputy’s question regarding measures being taken to curb insurance fraud, I would note that the Cost of Insurance Working Group (CIWG) examined this issue as part of its review of both motor and employer and public liability insurance and made recommendations aimed at addressing this problem.  

In this respect, the CIWG made recommendations to strengthen the powers of the Personal Injuries Assessment Board (PIAB) around compliance with its procedures, and this was achieved through the Personal Injuries Assessment Board (Amendment) Act 2019.  In addition, it recommended amendments to Sections 8 and 14 of the Civil Liability and Courts Act 2004 to make it easier for businesses and insurers to challenge cases where fraud or exaggeration is suspected.  The changes provide that a letter of claim stating the nature of the wrong alleged must be provided to an alleged wrongdoer by a claimant who intends to pursue a claim for damages for personal injuries “one month from the date of the cause of action”.  Previously, the period for issuing this letter was “two months from the date of the cause of action, or as soon as practicable thereafter.” If a claimant does not issue a letter within the first month (without a valid reason), the court “shall” draw inferences from this and penalise the plaintiff as to costs. These changes were brought in to help tackle fraud and exaggerated claims, but also to align the law with GDPR requirements (e.g. deletion of CCTV footage).  These amendments were made as part of the Central Bank (National Claims Information Database) Act 2018.

I believe that one of the key achievements of the CIWG is increased coordination and cooperation between An Garda Síochána and the insurance industry with regard to tackling fraud.  This includes the reporting of suspected fraud, as well as to how that fraud is recorded on the PULSE system.  There has also been recent successes under Operation Coatee, which targets insurance-related criminality.  In addition, Garda Commissioner Drew Harris has decided for operational reasons to investigate insurance fraud at the divisional level, rather than establish a centralised insurance investigation unit, which may not be in a position to investigate incidents at a local level to the same extent.  This approach is aligned with a general divisional-focused Garda model and the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau (GNECB) will guide divisions and provide training in the investigation of insurance fraud.

I might conclude by saying that since the CIWG started its  work in 2016, I believe that many insurers are taking a much more robust approach to challenging questionable claims.  This can be seen in recent media reports detailing personal injuries cases which have been dismissed by the courts after extensive investigations surrounding the circumstances of the claim.  This trend is encouraging in terms of tackling the problem of dubious or exaggerated claims from the personal injuries litigation system.

Tax Data

Ceisteanna (169)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Ceist:

169. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Finance the percentage of taxpayers who were exempt from income tax in each year since 2008 to 2018 and to date in 2019; his views on whether taxpayers should be required to pay income tax irrespective of income; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48983/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

Ireland has one of the most progressive income tax systems in the developed world. A progressive system ensures that the burden of taxation falls most heavily on those with a higher ability to pay. It is my view that a broad-based, progressive income tax system, where the majority of income earners make some contribution but according to their means, is the most fair and sustainable income tax system in the long term.

As regards the factual elements of the Deputy’s question, I am advised by Revenue that the numbers of taxpayers in each tax band, including those who are exempt from paying income tax, for the years 2008 to 2017 inclusive are published on Revenue’s website at the link: https://www.revenue.ie/en/corporate/information-about-revenue/statistics/income-distributions/income-earners-it.aspx

2017 is the latest year for which data are available.

Using the data in this published document, the percentage of taxpayer units that were exempt from income tax in each year from 2008 to 2017 is set out in the table.

Year

Percentage of Taxpayer Units Exempt from Income Tax

2008

42%

2009

44%

2010

45%

2011

40%

2012

40%

2013

39%

2014

39%

2015

39%

2016

36%

2017

36%

Regarding the Universal Social Charge (USC), the percentage of taxpayer units who were exempt from USC for the years 2012 to 2017 inclusive is published in a document on Revenue’s website at the link: https://www.revenue.ie/en/corporate/information-about-revenue/statistics/income-distributions/income-earners-usc-rates.aspx

2017 is the latest year for which data are available.

Using the data in this published document, the percentage of taxpayer units who were exempt from the USC in each year from 2012 to 2017 is set out in the table.

Year

Percentage of Taxpayer Units Exempt from Universal Social Charge (USC)

2012

27%

2013

28%

2014

28%

2015

30%

2016

31%

2017

30%

Revenue’s Post-Budget 2020 Ready Reckoner is available on Revenue’s website at the link: https://www.revenue.ie/en/corporate/documents/statistics/ready-reckoner.pdf Page 3 of the document shows that in 2020, 34 per cent of taxpayer units are projected to be exempt from income tax and 28 per cent are projected to be exempt from income tax and USC. These estimates have been generated by reference to 2020 incomes as calculated on the basis of actual data for the year 2017, the latest year for which returns are available, adjusted as necessary for income, self-employment and employment trends in the interim. The estimates are provisional and may be revised. They assume no behavioural change by taxpayers.

Prior to the introduction of the USC, the Irish income tax base had narrowed to a point where over 45% of income earners in the State were exempt from income tax and just over 13% were liable to the higher rate of income tax. When initially introduced in 2011, the entry threshold to USC was €4,004, with the result that just over 12% of income earners were exempt from a charge on their income. Notwithstanding the subsequent increase in the entry threshold from €4,004 to €13,000, of the three Irish charges on income (income tax, USC and PRSI), the USC currently has the broadest base. This is because, in general, entry into liability for the USC starts at income of €13,000 per year (compared with €16,500 for income tax and generally €18,304 (€352 per week) for PRSI). The USC base is broad because there are no credits and very few reliefs.

It is the Government’s position that earners start to pay the marginal rate of tax at too low an income level and it is committed to reducing excessive tax rates for low and middle income earners while also keeping the tax base broad. As a result of changes in recent Budgets, USC rates have been reduced to 0.5%, 2% and 4.5%.  The income level at which taxpayers begin to pay the higher rate of tax has also been increased by €2,500 and there have been increases in both the Home Carer Tax Credit and the Earned Income Credit.

Banking Sector

Ceisteanna (170)

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

170. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if deferred tax assets on losses carried forward in banks are included in the calculations for CET1 and fully loaded CET1 ratios; if these ratios will deteriorate if the deferred tax assets were removed from the balance sheet; if it will mean that banks would have to hold more capital if these deferred tax assets were removed; if this will increase the costs facing the banks; if this will have an impact on retail interest rates for customers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49041/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

The Deputy may recall that my Department issued a Technical Note to the Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure & Reform and Taoiseach (FinPERT) in August 2018 which dealt with the potential consequences of changes to the treatment of Corporation Tax Loss relief in respect of banks. In answering the Deputy’s current parliamentary question I have used content included in this note where relevant.

Under CRD IV rules, deferred tax assets (DTAs), which are substantially made up of tax losses in the case of the Irish banks, are being phased out over a 10-year period which commenced in 2014. Accordingly, tax losses still make up a material portion of the transitional CET1 ratios of the Irish banks. It should be noted that transitional CET1 ratio is the ratio which the regulator uses when assessing compliance with the minimum ratio set for the bank.

In the Technical Note referred to above, it was estimated that the removal of DTAs from the banks’ balance sheets would have the following impact on the December 2017 CET1 ratios as follows:

Transitional CET1

AIB

BOI

PTSB

Ratio as reported

20.8%

15.8%

17.1%

Pro-forma ratios with DTAs removed

17.1%

14.0%

14.8%

Reduction in CET1 ratios

(3.7%)

(1.8%)

(2.3%)

As fully loaded CET1 ratios are calculated with the DTAs deducted in their entirety from regulatory capital, the removal of DTAs would not impact on the reported ratio in the reporting period in which they were removed. However, for subsequent reporting periods, fully loaded ratios would be negatively impacted as they would not have benefitted from the usage of the DTAs in the scenario where the banks continue to be profitable. This also applies beyond the transitional period.

The Deputy will be aware of the significant increase in regulatory capital which the banks are now required to hold since the financial crisis. It is not possible to estimate the potential reaction of the regulator should the DTAs be removed from the banks’ balance sheets in terms of addressing the impact of this on capital. However, as the impact would be significant, with the reported ratios at AIB, BOI and PTSB being reduced by an estimated 18%, 11% and 13% respectively, it would no doubt be a matter carefully considered.

In addition, it is difficult to estimate the precise impact of the removal of DTAs on the pricing of retail customer products. However, one of the key criteria used by banks when pricing products is the return on equity (ROE). ROE is an important metric for a number of stakeholders, including the regulator, when assessing the financial performance of a bank. Accordingly, should a bank be required to hold more capital arising from the removal of DTAs, this could put upward pressure on interest rates say, for example, in relation to loan products to ensure the bank is achieving an adequate ROE.

As a separate matter, it is important to highlight that the DTAs are a valuable asset on a bank’s balance sheet and the State benefits from this as it sells down its stakes in the banks. The original Technical Note estimated that the value of the DTAs, under current rules and on a discounted cash flow basis, was c. €2.283bn with the State’s share being c. €1.227bn (54%) reflecting its relative shareholdings in the banks.

During Committee Stage of Finance Bill 2019, I committed to providing the FinPERT Committee with updated figures on the Technical Note provided in August 2018. The updated figures will reflect the position at end-2018. Work is ongoing in this regard, and this information will be provided to the Committee members in due course.

For the convenience of the Deputy the following link is to the original Technical Note referred to above:

https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/436ff7-technical-note-on-the-potential-consequences-of-changes-to-the-treat/

Departmental Bodies

Question No. 172 answered with Question No. 151.

Ceisteanna (171)

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

171. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the membership of the cost of insurance working group; the meetings the group held since its inception; the date and purpose of each meeting in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49048/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

The Cost of Insurance Working Group (CIWG) was established in July 2016 to undertake a detailed examination of the factors contributing to the cost of insurance in order to identify what short, medium and long-term measures could be introduced to help reduce the cost of insurance for consumers and businesses, while bearing in mind the need to maintain a stable insurance sector.  It was initially chaired by then-Minister of State Eoghan Murphy TD until June 2017, and has since been chaired by Minister of State Michael D’Arcy TD.  The CIWG has met in plenary format 35 times since its inception, and a 36th meeting is to take place in early December. A list of these meetings and the dates are included in tabular format as follows. 

Meeting

Date

Cost of Insurance Working Group – 1st meeting

20 July 2016

Cost of Insurance Working Group – 2nd meeting

01 September 2016

Cost of Insurance Working Group – 3rd meeting

15 September 2016

Cost of Insurance Working Group – 4th meeting

23 September 2016

Cost of Insurance Working Group – 5th meeting

29 September 2016

Cost of Insurance Working Group – 6th meeting

13 October 2016

Cost of Insurance Working Group – 7th meeting

25 October 2016

Cost of Insurance Working Group – 8th meeting

27 October 2016

Cost of Insurance Working Group – 9th meeting

08 November 2016

Cost of Insurance Working Group – 10th meeting

17 November 2016

Cost of Insurance Working Group – 11th meeting

29 November 2016

Cost of Insurance Working Group – 12th meeting

13 December 2016

Cost of Insurance Working Group – 13th meeting

26 January 2017

Cost of Insurance Working Group – 14th meeting

08 February 2017

Cost of Insurance Working Group – 15th meeting

21 February 2017

Cost of Insurance Working Group – 16th meeting

02 March 2017

Cost of Insurance Working Group – 17th meeting

21 March 2017

Cost of Insurance Working Group – 18th meeting

02 May 2017

Cost of Insurance Working Group – 19th meeting

23 May 2017

Cost of Insurance Working Group – 20th meeting

13 June 2017

Cost of Insurance Working Group – 21st meeting

05 July 2017

Cost of Insurance Working Group – 22nd meeting

26 July 2017

Cost of Insurance Working Group – 23rd meeting

06 September 2017

Cost of Insurance Working Group – 24th meeting

13 September 2017

Cost of Insurance Working Group – 25th meeting

04 October 2017

Cost of Insurance Working Group – 26th meeting

25 October 2017

Cost of Insurance Working Group – 27th meeting

06 December 2017

Cost of Insurance Working Group – 28th meeting

06 March 2018

Cost of Insurance Working Group – 29th meeting

17 April 2018

Cost of Insurance Working Group – 30th meeting

19 June 2018

Cost of Insurance Working Group – 31st meeting

23 October 2018

Cost of Insurance Working Group – 32nd meeting

22 January 2019

Cost of Insurance Working Group – 33rd meeting

26 March 2019

Cost of Insurance Working Group – 34th meeting

11 June 2019

Cost of Insurance Working Group – 35th meeting

17 September 2019

The membership of the CIWG includes representatives from the following Departments and Offices:

- Department of Finance

- Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation

- Department of Justice and Equality

- Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport

- Central Bank of Ireland

- Personal Injuries Assessment Board

- State Claims Agency

The individual names of members are available in both of the Reports of the CIWG, which have been published on the Department of Finance’s website. 

With regard to the purpose of these meetings, I do not believe it to be feasible to list this out on a meeting by meeting basis, however I would note that in general the purpose of the meetings was to ensure that the CIWG was able to produce its two primary reports on motor insurance and on employer and public liability insurance within the timeframes set out to it by Government.  The production of these reports involved a considerable amount of input from members of the CIWG, who also met regularly through a number of sub-groups to look at specific areas for reform.  It also involved an extensive consultation process and the CIWG met with various stakeholders, including Insurance Ireland, various insurance companies, AA Ireland, Auto Records Limited, the Consumers Association of Ireland, the Freight Transport Association of Ireland, the Irish Brokers Association, the Irish Car Rental Council, the Irish Road Haulage Association, the Law Society of Ireland and Tiomanaí Tacsaí na hÉireann, in respect of its the Report on Motor Insurance.  It also met with the Hotels Federation of Ireland, IBEC, ISME, the Vintners’ Federation of Ireland (VFI), the Licensed Vintners Association (LVA), the Retail Grocery Dairy & Allied Trades Association (RGDATA), Chambers Ireland, the Law Society of Ireland, and the Health and Safety Authority, Insurance Ireland, a number of CEOs from insurers operating in the employer liability and public liability insurance market and representatives from Lloyd’s of London as part of its consultations on the Report on Employer and Public Liability Insurance.  In addition, submissions received from all interested parties were considered as part of the process.

Following publication of the two reports, in January 2017 and January 2018 respectively, the CIWG has continued to meet so as to ensure that progress is being made related to the implementation of the various recommendations by the relevant Departments and bodies, which make up its membership.  The purpose of its meetings has therefore been to discuss issues related to implementation, including the Personal Injuries Commission’s recommendations, as well as to take stock of developments in the wider insurance reform agenda.  The Minister of State, in his capacity as Chair of the CIWG, has also had an “open door” policy in relation to meeting various stakeholders such as businesses and community groups that have been experiencing difficulties in affording or being able to avail of insurance. 

I think it is also important to mention that the relevant Ministers of State, as Chairs of the CIWG, have appeared before the FIN-PER Joint Oireachtas Committee to update them on the CIWG’s work, including progress it has made in relation to implementing its recommendations.  This has happened on seven occasions since 2016 and I believe that this demonstrates the importance the CIWG places on ensuring the Oireachtas has been informed and involved throughout its work.

Finally, I would like to commend the CIWG and its members regarding the work they have been taking to ensure that necessary reforms to the insurance sector are being carried out in line with the mandate that was given to it at the outset.  I believe that these reforms are having a significant impact with regard to private motor insurance (CSO figures from October 2019 show that the price of motor insurance is now 27.1% lower than the July 2016 peak).  However, I believe more needs to be done and in this context, I believe that the CIWG is as relevant now as it ever has been and it is likely to continue to meet into 2020 as implementation of remaining recommendations continues.  The issue of the cost and availability of insurance, in particular to certain businesses and community groups, remains a priority for the Government.

Question No. 172 answered with Question No. 151.

Public Spending Code

Ceisteanna (173)

Barry Cowen

Ceist:

173. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform when a new public spending code will be issued; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48530/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

As part of the ongoing reform of Ireland’s public investment management systems, my Department has undertaken extensive work on the updating of the Public Spending Code.  The purpose of this update is to strengthen the existing guidance to better align with the realities of project delivery and with a particular focus on improved appraisal, cost estimation and management.  

The update of the Public Spending Code was informed by an extensive consultation process involving engagement with over 150 public officials, a review of international best practice, consultation with international experts such as the OECD and the European Investment Bank, and incorporating lessons learned here in Ireland on a wider range of projects including the new National Children’s Hospital. 

The key changes to the Code include:

- Improved structure and usability;

- Greater clarity on governance and roles and responsibilities;

- Robust decision gates requiring formal approvals and clearer governance arrangements as projects progress;

- A requirement to update the business case for a proposed project post tender and before contract award to consider affordability and value for money; and

- Increased transparency through publication of business cases and evaluation reports.

I anticipate that the revised central elements of the Public Spending Code relating to the appraisal and management of public capital projects will be published in the near future following consideration and approval by Government. Further technical guidance building upon these central elements will follow in 2020.

EU Funding

Ceisteanna (174)

Denis Naughten

Ceist:

174. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform his plans to centralise European Regional Development Funds in Dublin; the implication of such a decision on the northern and western region; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48588/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

At the outset it is important to remind the Deputy that Ireland’s allocation of European Regional Development Funds have in the past, and will continue in the future, to support projects in all parts of Ireland. Moreover, in accordance with the EU Regulatory requirement, stakeholders at local, regional and national level will continue to have a key role in the planning, monitoring and delivery of these programmes.

There are currently no plans or proposals before the Minister in relation to the current or future administration of European Regional Development Funds in Ireland.

However, the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform has commissioned a Review of Structures for the management of European Regional Development (ERDF) for the next programming round, for the period 2021 to 2027. The amount of funding available through the ERDF is expected to be reduced; the level of co-financing required to draw down these funds is expected to increase; and activities eligible for support has been concentrated further. Against this background, it is timely and appropriate to undertake a review of the structures in place for the administration of these funds, which have remained essentially unchanged since 2000. It is important to emphasise that, at this early stage in the exploratory and deliberative process, there are no recommendations on structures before the Minister.

Flood Relief Schemes Status

Ceisteanna (175)

Pearse Doherty

Ceist:

175. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the status of the CFRAMS flood mitigation works at Lifford, Castlefinn, Ballybofey and Stranorlar, County Donegal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48536/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

Fifteen projects were identified in County Donegal arising from the Flood Risk Management Plans that I announced in May 2018. Following consultation and discussions between the Office of Public Works (OPW) and Donegal County Council (DCC), six of the Donegal projects have been selected to be progressed in the first phase of implementation.

Lifford, County Donegal

The proposed Lifford Flood Relief Scheme is part of the first phase of projects emanating from the Programme of Investment in Flood Relief Measures, which was announced in May 2018. The proposed measures consists of a series of flood embankments and walls with an estimated early indicative cost of €5.9m.  The engineering and environmental consultants were appointed in October 2019 to develop and bring forward viable proposals for the areas that are affected by flooding.

Castlefinn, County Donegal

The proposed flood relief scheme for Castlefinn is in the first phase of implementation and has an estimated early indicative cost of €1.75m. It has been agreed that the scheme is to be progressed by DCC with funding to be provided by the OPW.

The proposed measures consists of a series of flood embankments and walls and associated drainage works. Tendering for the required design consultants is expected to commence shortly.

Ballybofey and Stranorlar, County Donegal

The proposed flood relief scheme for Ballybofey and Stranorlar has an estimated early indicative cost of €1.92m and consists of hard defences and improvement of channel conveyance.

While the proposed flood relief scheme for Ballybofey and Stranorlar is not in the first phase of projects to be advanced, both the OPW and DCC will work closely to ensure that the project will be progressed as early as possible in the coming years and within the 10-year timeframe for the programme of investment.

Funding of €157,500 was approved in 2018 under the OPW's Minor Flood Mitigation Works and Coastal Protection Scheme for a project at Ballybofey and Stranorlar. The works comprise the removal of vegetation and trees on the embankment, the removal of silt, gravels and boulder deposits and construction of pumps/pumping areas and Ground Investigation works along the Flood Embankments. The project is being led by Donegal County Council, who are proceeding with its planning.

Flood Prevention Measures

Ceisteanna (176)

Seán Sherlock

Ceist:

176. Deputy Sean Sherlock asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform his plans for the provision of flood defences for the city of Cork; the estimated cost of the plans; if a Thames barrier type structure is being considered; and if so, the estimated cost of such a structure. [48634/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

Work on developing a viable flood relief scheme for Cork city has been underway for about 13 years, beginning with the Lee CFRAMS pilot project, which was followed by the Lower Lee (Cork City) Project which has resulted in the currently proposed scheme for Cork, the Lower Lee (Cork City) Flood Relief Scheme.  I am fully satisfied that the scheme as proposed by the Office of Public Works is the best solution for Cork and, in line with international best practice, will protect over 2100 properties (900 homes & 1200 businesses) from the 1 in 100 year river flood and the 1 in 200 year tidal flood event. The Scheme includes low riverside defences, an early flood warning system and new dam management procedures for the ESB dams at Carrigadrohid and Inniscarra. The Scheme will facilitate public realm improvements on a scale not previously seen in Cork city centre, making it more attractive to live in, work in, visit and invest in.

The current estimated whole life cost of the Scheme is circa €140m (2016 figures), although this is likely to be revised upwards when the various design changes introduced after the Public Exhibition feedback, and inflation, are taken into account. The final approved cost of the Scheme will only be known following the works tender process.

The option of a tidal barrier has been examined in detail by the project design team and is deemed not to be currently necessary or viable, and not likely to become viable for 50 years or more. If and when a tidal barrier becomes necessary and viable, the optimum location is likely to be at Great Island, where it would protect the wider urban areas in the harbour and have the least impact on the environment and navigation. The cost of a barrier at this location has an estimated whole life cost of in excess of €1.5bn.

Lower estimates put forward by other groups have been reviewed by the OPW and its consultants who can confirm that they are based on a concept barrier design which is neither technically viable nor likely to be environmentally acceptable and do not include for all whole life costs. In any event, a tidal barrier will not provide improved protection against fluvial flooding in Cork and would not have prevented the extreme flooding which occurred in Cork in 2009.

Further information on the option of a tidal barrier for Cork is available in the ‘Supplementary Report: Option of Tidal Barrier’ which can be downloaded from the project website:

https://s3-eu-west-1.amazonaws.com/arup-s3-lower-lee-frs-ie-wp-static/wp-content/uploads/lee_valley/LLFRS_SupplementaryReportonOptionofTidalBarrier.pdf