Fuel Allowance Eligibility

Ceisteanna (262)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

262. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection when fuel and heating allowance will be awarded in the case of a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [49660/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The person concerned was awarded fuel allowance with effect from 11 October 2019. As the Increase for living alone was in payment, they were automatically entitled to the telephone support allowance from 11 October 2019. These decisions issued in writing to the person concerned on 25 November 2019, together with details of arrears due. 

Their fuel allowance is currently being paid on a weekly basis and will be paid in instalments from Friday, 10 January 2020.  An application for the household benefits package issued to the person concerned. On receipt of the completed application their entitlement will be examined, and they will be notified in writing of the outcome.

 I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Household Benefits Scheme

Ceisteanna (263)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

263. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the eligibility for free scheme and household package in the case of a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [49661/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

An application for the Household Benefits Package was received from the person concerned on 19 November 2019.  Under current eligibility conditions, the person concerned does not satisfy the household composition test.  

Implementation of an incoming Budget 2020 measure, where another adult (except the spouse, civil partner or cohabitant of applicant) living in the household will no longer be a disqualifying condition for the purposes of the Household Benefits Package.  The measure takes effect from the 6th January 2020.  As a result of this change, the person concerned has been awarded the Household Benefits Package with effect from 6 January 2020.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Social and Affordable Housing

Ceisteanna (264)

Noel Grealish

Ceist:

264. Deputy Noel Grealish asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if there is an affordable housing scheme to provide affordable housing on lands owned by the local authority; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49508/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

In line with the commitments in Rebuilding Ireland to support the delivery of discounted homes to buy or rent, this Government has allocated €310 million under the Serviced Sites Fund (SSF) over the period 2019 to 2021.  This funding will provide for infrastructure to support the delivery of some 6,200 affordable homes on local authority lands.  SSF is being made available in areas where local authorities have demonstrated a requirement for more affordable housing and a viability to deliver such housing on their sites.

Land utilisation and activation is, in the first instance, a matter for the local authority and its elected members including the development of its land for the delivery of more affordable private housing. Nevertheless, in order to target SSF funding interventions, in October 2018, local authorities were invited to undertake an economic assessment of their sites to assess whether the provision of affordable homes was necessary and economically viable.  As part of that assessment local authorities were also asked to consider the broader housing affordability within their area.  19 local authorities returned economic assessments to my Department.

To date, I have allocated SSF funding of €127 million, in support of 35 projects in 14 local authority areas, for infrastructure works that will see the delivery of almost 3,200 affordable homes.  I anticipate that a further Call for Proposals under the SSF will issue to local authorities in 2020. Full details of the projects approved under the 1st and 2nd SSF calls can be found at the following links:

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

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

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

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

In addition to SSF, funding of €200m has also been made available under the Local Infrastructure Housing Activation Fund (LIHAF), which is also designed to activate housing supply by putting in place the enabling public infrastructure necessary to ensure that large scale development could take place on key sites in urban areas of high housing demand.  30 projects received final approval, at a total cost of €195.71 million, of which €146.69 million will be funded by the Exchequer with local authorities funding the balance.  These projects will stimulate development of approximately 20,000 housing units across 14 local authorities and approximately 7,800 of these homes will be offered at a discount on open market prices.   

These schemes will complement other key Government affordability initiatives, such as the Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan, and the Help to Buy Scheme, which have supported over 15,000 households nationally.

Departmental Expenditure

Ceisteanna (265)

Barry Cowen

Ceist:

265. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the amount spent by his Department and each agency under the aegis of his Department on the National Ploughing Championships in each of the years 2016 to 2018 and to date in 2019, by online advertising, offline advertising, promotional material, wages, photography, stand rental and other costs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49543/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

The information requested in respect of my Department is being compiled and will be forwarded to the Deputy in accordance with Standing Orders. 

The details requested in relation to bodies under the aegis of my Department are a matter for the individual bodies concerned. Arrangements have been put in place by each Agency to facilitate the provision of information by State Bodies directly to members of the Oireachtas. The relevant contact email address for each agency, to which members may address queries, are set out in the following table.

Agency

Email address

An Bord Pleanála

Oireachtasqueries@pleanala.ie

Ervia, Gas Networks Ireland

oireachtas@ervia.ie

Housing Finance Agency

oireachtas.enquiries@hfa.ie

Housing Sustainable Communities Agency

publicreps@housingagency.ie

Irish Water

oireachtasmembers@water.ie

Local Government Management Agency

corporate@lgma.ie.

Ordinance Survey Ireland

Oireachtas@osi.ie

Property Registration Authority

reps@prai.ie

Pyrite Resolution Board

oireachtasinfo@pyriteboard.ie

Residential Tenancies Board

OireachtasMembersQueries@rtb.ie

Valuation Office

reps@valoff.ie

Land Development Agency

oireachtas@lda.ie

Office of the Planning Regulator

oireachtas@opr.ie

The following deferred reply was received under Standing Order 42A

The details requested are as follows

Year

Advertising

Promotional   Material

Stand and tent   rental

Other costs

2016

 

€4,565

€50,515

€1,790

2017

€430

€2,503

€55,690

€6,783

2018

 

€10,015

€62,239

€8,248

2019

€431

€5,991

€30,279

€4,224

Building Regulations

Ceisteanna (266)

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

266. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if his attention has been drawn to a newly formed group (details supplied) representing home owners in many developments with serious construction defects; if the report of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Housing, Planning and Local Government, Safe as Houses, of January 2018 will be implemented; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49573/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

I am aware of the group denoted by the Deputy and I acknowledge the very stressful circumstances which owners and residents face when their homes are affected by construction defects.

The Safe as Houses report has been considered by my Department, and indeed many of its principles underpin the building control reform agenda already well underway. The building control reform agenda provides a comprehensive roadmap for embedding a culture of compliance and accountability within the construction industry and for strengthening the building control framework in this country.

The reform agenda includes:

- amendments made to the Building Control Regulations;

- the National Building Control Management Project; and

- the ongoing development of new legislation through the Building Control (Construction Industry Register Ireland) Bill.

Local authorities have extensive powers of inspection and enforcement under the Fire Services Acts 1981 and 2003, the Fire Services Acts, the Housing Acts and the Planning and Development Acts. Fire services may inspect buildings in cases of defects or complaints in respect of fire safety.  They work with building owners to ensure that immediate risks are addressed and that a plan is put in place, where required, for works to bring buildings into compliance.

In general, building defects are matters for resolution between the contracting parties involved, that is the homeowner, the builder, the developer and/or their respective insurers, structural guarantee or warranty scheme. The State has no general statutory role in resolving defects in privately owned buildings, including dwellings, nor does it have a budget for such matters. It is not possible for the State to take on responsibility/liability for all legacy issues nor would it send the right message to the industry regarding their responsibility for compliance.

My focus will remain firmly on ensuring the full roll out of the Building Control reform agenda, to ensure that all those that engaged in the construction sector take their responsibilities seriously and are appropriately held to account.

Meteorological Services

Ceisteanna (267)

Timmy Dooley

Ceist:

267. Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the reason the Shannon rainfall radar is offline on a regular basis; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49607/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

Met Éireann operates two weather radars in Ireland, one at Dublin Airport and one at Shannon Airport. This radar network provides real-time rainfall information for Ireland.

The radar at Shannon Airport has had high availability for 2018 and much of 2019, with only short outages, generally for routine maintenance and scheduled during dry weather. However, there have been two more significant outages recently due to technical faults, from 1 to 14 August 2019 and 25 October to 21 November 2019. The generally high levels of availability of the Shannon radar are reflected in the table, which sets out the percentage of time it was operational during each of the months from January 2018 to October 2019.

Met Éireann works closely with the manufacturers of the Shannon radar to schedule preventative maintenance and rectify technical issues when they arise. Most recently, in January 2019, at the request of Met Éireann, a review of the Shannon radar was carried out by the radar manufacturer. Following this review, a schedule of identified maintenance tasks was carried out to reduce the risk of technical faults.

Met Éireann has commenced a procurement process for a replacement weather radar system for Shannon Airport. Additionally Met Éireann has, since 2018, Met Eireann has been actively planning a broader project to upgrade, modernise and expand the Irish weather radar network. A scoping exercise is currently underway to identify the key requirements for a five radar network.

 

Shannon Radar Availability 2018

Shannon Radar Availability 2019

January

98.9%

96.5%

February

97.3%

99.6%

March

99.6%

99.8%

April

99.9%

100%

May

98.8%

100%

June

99.9%

98.7%

July

99.8%

98.2%

August

93.7%

57.7%

September

100%

99.6%

October

99.3%

77%

November

100%

-

December

100%

-

Local Authority Housing

Ceisteanna (268)

Thomas Pringle

Ceist:

268. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if the €25million funding allocated for the upgrading of the energy efficiency of local authority homes in 2019 can be used for window and door upgrades taking into account windows lose approximately 25% of heat; if his plan is in line with proposals in the climate action plan 2019 and the obligations of Ireland under the EU energy efficiency directive; his views on whether a local authority reply (details supplied) is correct in its interpretation of the recent funding allocated by his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49609/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

My Department is currently supporting local authorities in undertaking an ambitious programme of insulation retrofitting for their housing stock, which commenced in 2013. The aim of the Energy Efficiency Retrofitting Programme is the improvement of energy efficiency and comfort levels in local authority homes, benefitting those at risk of fuel poverty and making a significant contribution to Ireland’s carbon emissions reduction targets and energy efficiency targets for 2020. 

The programme is being implemented in a number of phases: Phase 1 is focused on providing attic/roof insulation and the less intrusive cavity wall insulation in all relevant properties, while Phase 2, which was rolled out to all local authorities earlier this year, focuses on the external fabric upgrade of those social housing units with solid/hollow block wall construction and includes the provision of heating upgrades as well as the replacement of windows and doors to facilitate external wall insulation or where single glazed units exist. 

Funding of over €139 million has been provided from 2013 to date to improve energy efficiency and comfort levels in over 70,000 local authority homes.  Some 1,902 social homes in County Wicklow have been retrofitted under this programme, with funding support of over €5.3 million.

Under the programme, each local authority receives an annual funding allocation and it is their responsibility to select properties for inclusion in the programme, including the blend of properties to be tackled between deep and shallow retrofits. My Department is not involved in the selection of the properties to be retrofitted, nor the sequence in which the works are prioritised by the local authority.

Departmental Expenditure

Ceisteanna (269)

Barry Cowen

Ceist:

269. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the amount spent by her Department and each agency under the aegis of her Department on the National Ploughing Championships in each of the years 2016 to 2018 and to date in 2019, by online advertising, offline advertising, promotional material, wages, photography, stand rental and other costs; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [49536/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Culture)

The information requested by the Deputy on the amount spent by the Department, and those bodies under its aegis, in respect of attendance at the National Ploughing Championships is set out in the table.  

These costs relates to stand rental, marquee design and fit-out.  The Department does not engage in promotional or advertising activities as described by the Deputy and no costs have arisen in this regard during the period in question.  Where bodies under the aegis of the Department are represented at the Ploughing Championships they are accommodated within the Department's area.

Employee costs including salary, overtime and expenses in respect of staff attending this event are paid in accordance with standard civil service norms. 

Year

Expenditure to date

2016

€ 54,569

2017

€125,282*

2018

€ 65,807

2019

€ 91,904

* The higher figure for 2017 reflects the requirement to provide a larger area for the Department to accommodate the Rural and Community Affairs function of the Department at that time, as well as a one-off performance space which was jointly promoted by the Department and the Arts Council.