Tax Reliefs Costs

Ceisteanna (148)

Darragh O'Brien

Ceist:

148. Deputy Darragh O'Brien asked the Minister for Finance the first and full-year cost of establishing an enhanced loss relief for landlords to allow relief for rental losses against other income sources in the same year. [53432/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

The Report of the Working Group on the Tax and Fiscal Treatment of Landlords was published by my Department on Budget Day 2017. 

Ten policy options were put forward in the report, divided into short-term, medium-term and long-term timeframes. Option 3 is to enhance loss relief for landlords (or a sub-set of landlords), to allow relief for rental losses against other income sources in the same year.

Currently, landlords can carry-forward their rental losses for offset against future rental profits, but cannot offset rental losses against other net taxable income in the current year, other than other rental profits from other properties. However, rental losses can currently be carried forward indefinitely against future rental income, even after the loss-making property has ceased to be a rental property. This is in contrast to the treatment of trading losses under Case I, where the loss relief effectively ceases when the trade ceases. The current system of rental loss relief has the effect of encouraging landlords to remain in the market, in order to avail of the loss relief against future streams of rental income. Allowing offset of rental losses against all other income could potentially encourage landlords to exit the market at an earlier date, once their losses had been fully relieved against other income.

I am advised by Revenue that in 2017, the latest year for which tax returns are currently available, there was approximately €1.45bn in rental losses from prior years that were available to be offset against rental income in that year. Assuming losses of €1.45bn to be available for offset and applying an average (blended) tax rate, the tax cost could be tentatively estimated at €420m.  

Revenue advise that approximately 10% of those with rental income in 2017 did not have other income sources, in which case there would be no extra tax cost for that segment. For all other taxpayers, the tax cost associated with such a change would vary for each taxpayer, depending on the nature of their income, their level of available losses carried forward, and their level of income.  Also, tax returns do not separately capture unused losses for residential and commercial properties, therefore this estimate includes losses in relation to commercial properties as well as residential properties. For these reasons, the estimate presented above should be considered highly provisional.

Tax Reliefs Costs

Ceisteanna (149)

Darragh O'Brien

Ceist:

149. Deputy Darragh O'Brien asked the Minister for Finance the first and full-year cost of allowing a deduction against rental income for the capital cost of the property in the initial years of ownership of a rental unit; and the corresponding reduction in the base cost of the property on a future disposal. [53433/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

The Report of the Working Group on the Tax and Fiscal Treatment of Rental Accommodation Providers (published by my Department on Budget Day 2017) identified the measure suggested by the Deputy as a possible medium-term option. The report does not cost the measure but notes that three factors relevant for the costing would be:

- the reduction in current income tax revenues;

- in the longer term, the claw-back of the deduction as CGT rather than income tax, USC and PRSI; and

- the potential for loss to the Exchequer if the property is not subject to CGT in future.

I am advised by Revenue that as capital allowances in respect of the purchase of a property are not allowable, tax returns do not capture information in relation to the purchase price of the properties for which rental income is declared. As this information is not available, it is not possible to estimate the tax cost associated with the measure outlined by the Deputy.

Tax Reliefs Costs

Ceisteanna (150)

Darragh O'Brien

Ceist:

150. Deputy Darragh O'Brien asked the Minister for Finance the first and full-year cost of allowing CGT relief for properties acquired and retained as rental accommodation. [53434/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

CGT becomes payable on any gain made on the disposal rather than the acquisition of an asset.  

It would be difficult to cost the Deputy's proposal in the absence of further detail for example on the number of qualifying rental properties, the duration for which such rental properties were retained and any gains made on their disposal.

I would say that the issue of a tax incentive to encourage landlords to enter into longer term leases was put forward as one of the ten options for consideration in the Report of the Working Group on the Tax and Fiscal Treatment of Landlords. This was published as part of the Budget documentation in 2017. 

Using a set of modest assumptions, the Department of Finance Tax Division modelled the above option in order to provide a high-level estimate of the potential costs of implementation. The assumptions used included the following elements:

- 10% of landlords might avail of the relief

- Average property in Year 1 of €300k

- 2.5% capital appreciation each year.

The modelling suggests that the cost to the Exchequer in terms of CGT foregone could be of the order of €78 million if landlords held their properties for 5 years and then sold in year 6.  The potential costs would be higher - of the order of €157 million - if the properties were held for 7 years and sold in year 8. Notwithstanding the cost of such a proposal, other issues arise. These include the potential for abuse of any such relief; the incentive effects provided by such a relief to sell the property after a specific time and how to provide for rental properties purchased between 2011 and 2014, which attract no CGT on any gains made on their sale.

This work was provided to the Committee on Finance and Public Expenditure during the Finance Bill process.

However, it should be borne in mind that the above option, which goes down the Capital Taxes route, is only one approach that might be taken. Thus, it might also be possible to incentivise the renting of property for longer periods through the provision of an incentive using the income tax system. 

My Department is aiming to have a broader piece of work completed on the benefits and potential costs and disadvantages of changes in this area and whether it could play a role in future budgetary and fiscal policy.

Tax Data

Ceisteanna (151)

Darragh O'Brien

Ceist:

151. Deputy Darragh O'Brien asked the Minister for Finance the first and full-year cost of developing a separate method of taxing rental income, for example, a flat tax or a separate rate of tax, as a policy lever to support the sector as a whole; and if he has considered supporting specific sub-sectors, for example, affordable housing and urban housing. [53435/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

Rental income, after deduction of allowable letting expenses, is subject to tax as part of the total taxable income of a landlord. Individual landlords are subject to income tax, including USC and PRSI where appropriate, at the current applicable rates. Expenses incurred in connection with the letting of a property are generally deductible under the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997, and wear & tear allowances are allowed for furnishings and fittings. A landlord may also claim mortgage interest deductibility, which in Budget 2019 was fully restored to the 100% rate, with effect from 1 January 2019.

I am advised by Revenue that it is not possible to determine the cost of a change to the present method of taxing rental income, as proposed by the Deputy. Although income streams may be identified separately in tax returns, this segregation is not maintained throughout the tax calculation process. As a result, it is not possible for Revenue to associate particular portions of net tax due with particular income streams, and therefore it is not possible to cost a proposal regarding a flat tax or a separate rate of tax on rental income.

The Report of the Working Group on the Tax and Fiscal Treatment of Rental Accommodation Providers, published by my Department on Budget Day 2017, identified the measure suggested by the Deputy as a possible long-term option. The report noted that this measure would represent a significant departure from current tax policy and, in addition to the cost of tax foregone by the Exchequer, there would also be significant administration costs associated with the development and implementation of a new system of taxation for rental income.

Following due consideration, I have implemented certain options contained within the Report over a number of Budgets. Specifically, in Budget 2018 I announced a new, time-limited deduction for pre-letting expenses incurred on properties that have been vacant for one year or more (option 4). The objective of this measure is to increase the supply of rental accommodation by incentivising the owners of vacant property to bring these properties back to the rental market. As already stated, in Budget 2019 I provided for accelerated restoration of full mortgage interest deductibility for landlords of residential property (option 1).

As the Deputy will be aware, taxation is only one of the policy levers available to the Government through which to boost rental and overall housing supply. Ireland’s past experience with tax incentives in the housing sector strongly suggests the need for a cautionary stance when considering intervention in the rental sector. There are many competing priorities which must be considered when deciding which policy measures to introduce and the rental sector is just one of many other sectors that may require assistance and intervention.

European Banking Union

Ceisteanna (152)

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

152. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Finance if he will report on the outcome of the discussions at the December 2019 ECOFIN meeting on strengthening the banking union. [52991/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

At ECOFIN in December 2019 the Council took stock of progress in strengthening the Banking Union under the Finnish Presidency. This is a regular agenda item at the end of each Presidency. The report is available at "https://data.consilium.europa.eu/doc/document/ST-14354-2019-INIT/en/pdf".

The report outlined the work which has been undertaken in relation to the proposal for a common European Deposit Insurance Scheme (EDIS), the action plan to tackle Non-Performing Loans in Europe and the implementation of the "Banking Package" (a series of reforms to the Capital Requirements Regulation, the Capital Requirements Directive, the Bank Recovery and Resolution Directive and the Single Resolution Mechanism Regulation).

It is anticipated that the work on this topic will continue at Eurogroup and under the Croatian Presidency in the first half of 2020. 

Flood Prevention Measures

Ceisteanna (153)

Timmy Dooley

Ceist:

153. Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the plans in place for drainage of the Inagh River, County Clare, in particular the section of river between Moanreel and Glann, Ennistymon in view of the ongoing annual flooding of the river; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52743/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

The Office of Public Works (OPW) carries out a programme of Arterial Drainage Maintenance to a total of 11,500 km of river channel and approximately 730 km of embankments nationally. These maintenance works relate to arterial drainage schemes completed by the OPW under the Arterial Drainage Acts 1945 and 1995. The OPW has a statutory duty to maintain these completed schemes in proper repair and effective condition. The annual maintenance programme typically involves some clearance of vegetation and removal of silt build-up on an average five-yearly cycle. Each year, work is carried out to approximately 2,000 km of channel and about 200 structures around the country.

Maintenance of all drainage schemes carried out under earlier Acts, known as Drainage Districts, is the responsibility of the relevant Local Authority.

The area referred to by the Deputy is a Drainage District and is therefore its maintenance is under the remit of Clare County Council.

Garda Station Refurbishment

Ceisteanna (154)

Willie Penrose

Ceist:

154. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform when phase 2 of the refurbishment works at a Garda station and Garda water unit in Athlone, County Westmeath will be fully completed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53330/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

The Office of Public Works (OPW) is managing the delivery of the new redevelopment of Athlone Garda Station. Based on the information to date and the assumption that the ESB diversion works will be completed in January 2020,  the revised contractor's programme estimates substantial completion of Phase 2 in Q3/Q4 2020.

Refurbishment work on the Athlone Garda Water Unit property has commenced and it is expected that the works will be completed during the Summer of 2020.

National Monuments

Ceisteanna (155)

Brendan Griffin

Ceist:

155. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if Carrigafoyle Castle, Ballylongford, County Kerry will open off season (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52677/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

Access to Carrigafoyle Castle is facilitated from early May until the end of September annually.  

During the off-season, it is not considered advisable to open this site.  This is due to serious Health and Safety concerns.  Both the car-park and pathway are liable to flooding.  In addition, underfoot conditions both inside and outside the Castle can be variable. Inside the Castle, there are uneven floors and steps which, in the absence of lighting, become a major health and safety concern.  The Office of Public Works is not in a position to improve lighting at the Castle because there is no electricity on site.  Due to the prohibitive cost envisaged in getting power onto the site and the requirement to obtain Ministerial Consent which may not be forthcoming as there are no conservation works involved, it is not intended to install lighting at the Castle.

National Monuments

Ceisteanna (156)

Brendan Griffin

Ceist:

156. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if the OPW will clean up around the Napoleonic battery fortress on Carrig Island, Ballylongford, County Kerry in order to expose the architectural features on the historical site; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52688/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

The Napoleonic Battery Fortress on Carrig island, Ballylongford is not a National Monument in State care and does not come under the care of the Office of Public Works.  As such, the works you request cannot be undertaken by the OPW as they fall outside it's remit and responsibility.

Flood Prevention Measures

Ceisteanna (157)

John Brassil

Ceist:

157. Deputy John Brassil asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if flood mitigation works will be carried out on the River Shanowen, County Kerry (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52824/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

The Office of Public Works (OPW) is responsible for the maintenance of Arterial Drainage Schemes and catchment drainage schemes designated under the Arterial Drainage Acts of 1945 and 1995. The location referred to by the deputy forms part of the Maine Arterial Drainage Scheme and was inspected by the OPW regional office.

The inspection corresponded with high river flows, following the recent sustained period of wet weather, at which time the river was operating effectively, with good conveyance clearly evident along the main river channel. There was no evidence of any obvious blockages or obstructions along the main river channel itself.

As part of the OPW’s on-going maintenance responsibility for the area, the channel is included in the 2020 annual maintenance works programme.

Public Sector Staff Data

Ceisteanna (158)

Margaret Murphy O'Mahony

Ceist:

158. Deputy Margaret Murphy O'Mahony asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the target set for public service employment for persons with a disability; the date by which same is to be achieved; the percentage as it stands; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52888/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

In accordance with requirements under the Disability Act 2005, the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform is required to report to the National Disability Authority (NDA) on the numbers of people with a disability working in the Civil Service only. Other Ministers have similar responsibilities for the wider public service.

Under Section 47 of the Disability Act, all public bodies are required:

- in so far as practicable take all reasonable measures to promote and support the employment by it of persons with disabilities, and

- ensure, unless there is good reason to the contrary for not doing so, that it reaches any compliance targets (i.e., that not less than 3% of the persons employed by it are persons with disabilities).

As part of the Comprehensive Employment Strategy for People with Disabilities, the public service employment target of people with disabilities will be increased on a phased basis from 3% to 6% by 2024.

The NDA publishes full details on public sector compliance with this target on its website.

http://nda.ie/Publications/Employment/Employment-of-people-with-disabilities-in-the-public-service/Reports-on-compliance-with-public-sector-jobs-target/?=OpenDocument&pageNumber=1.

The current number of people employed in the Civil Service who have declared a disability is currently 4.6 percent.

Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles

Ceisteanna (159)

Margaret Murphy O'Mahony

Ceist:

159. Deputy Margaret Murphy O'Mahony asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if he has fulfilled the commitment given in the Programme for Partnership Government that taxi companies that wish to bid for State procurement contracts must ensure that a minimum of 10% of their fleet is wheelchair-accessible; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52889/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

My colleague, the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport and the National Transport Authority (NTA) have primary responsibility for meeting this commitment.  Recognising the prevailing market structure for taxi services is central to this issue and as there are no large unitary fleet operators who can easily be compelled to meet such a requirement, I understand the NTA (a) continues to fund a programme of grants to increase the level of wheelchair accessible taxis, and (b) has amended the vehicle specification to qualify as a wheelchair-accessible taxi to reduce the level of investment required by individual taxi operators in order to comply. 

The Office of Government Procurement (OGP) engages with the NTA and ensures that appropriate accessibility criteria are included in their central arrangements for taxi services.

Having regard to the above, the OGP established a Framework Agreement for the provision of taxi services in the Greater Dublin Area in September 2018. The tender competition to establish this Framework was designed to encourage participation on a fair and equal basis by Small and Medium Enterprises (SME’s) together with addressing the Programme for a Partnership Government commitment.

Flood Risk Insurance Cover Provision

Ceisteanna (160)

Pádraig O'Sullivan

Ceist:

160. Deputy Pádraig O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the progress made in resolving the insurance issues faced by homeowners who reside in flood risk areas; the compensation planned for those who have suffered financial impacts due to flooding; the security or reassurances being offered for those who reside in flood risk areas still awaiting flood prevention measures; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52980/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

The Minister for Finance has overall responsibility for the Government’s flood insurance policy.  While the Office of Public Works (OPW) has no responsibility for oversight or regulation of the insurance industry in relation to flood risk insurance, or to insurance matters generally, the OPW has a very specific role in the exchange of information with the insurance industry in relation to completed flood defence schemes.

On 24th March 2014, the OPW agreed a Memorandum of Understanding with Insurance Ireland, the representative body of the insurance industry. This Memorandum sets out principles of how the two organisations work together to ensure that appropriate and relevant information on completed flood defence schemes is provided to insurers to facilitate, to the greatest extent possible, the availability to the public of insurance against the risk of flooding. The Memorandum does not guarantee the availability of flood risk cover in the locations concerned.

The insurance industry has its own flood modelling tools for assessing the level of risk that it is willing to underwrite in relation to individual properties. The decision on whether to offer insurance, the level of premiums charged and the policy terms applied are matters for individual insurers.

Since the establishment of the MoU, an increase in the provision of flood insurance cover has been observed in areas protected by flood relief schemes.  The most recent survey carried out by Insurance Ireland highlights that 84% of policies issued for residences and small businesses include flood cover, with 95% of policies having flood cover in those areas protected by permanent flood defences.

The Department of Finance has advised the OPW that it is continuing to examine how the level of cover in areas with demountable defences in particular, can be increased.  As part of the Climate Action Plan, it is reviewing the general challenges of property insurance and flooding, and has conducted a public consultation and met with key stakeholders to try and determine the nature and extent of the problem and also to see what solutions can be developed.

Consumers can make a complaint to the Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman in relation to any dealings with a Financial Services or Insurance provider during which they feel they have been unfairly treated. In addition, individuals who are experiencing difficulty in obtaining flood insurance or believe that they are being treated unfairly may contact Insurance Ireland which operates a free Insurance Information Service for those who have queries, complaints or difficulties in relation to insurance ((01 676 1914 or feedback@insuranceireland.eu). 

The Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection operates a Humanitarian Assistance Scheme which provides financial assistance to households who are not able to meet costs for essential needs immediately following flooding or severe weather events.  The scheme is designed to alleviate hardship and is administered by the Community Welfare Service.  Further information on the scheme is available at www.gov.ie.

In relation to flood risk areas still awaiting flood prevention measures, on 3rd May, 2018, I was delighted to launch 29 Flood Risk Management Plans and €1bn investment in flood risk over the coming decade.  These Plans are the output from the Catchment Flood Risk Assessment and Management (CFRAM) Programme - the largest ever flood risk study carried out in the State.  The Plans set out the measures proposed to address the flood risk nationally, and include 118 new schemes to protect towns, villages and cities nationally.  To achieve this, the Government has provided €1 billion for investment in flood risk management measures over the coming decade, and work is now underway in progressing the first 60 of these as a priority.

This commitment is in addition to the significant investment and work on flood defence schemes, since 1995, which has delivered flood protection for over forty communities today by Flood Relief Schemes.  Construction of a further 11 flood relief schemes is currently underway across the country, and planning, design and development of a further 23 flood relief schemes nationally is already well advanced.

Furthermore, the Minor Works Scheme was introduced by my Office on an administrative, non-statutory basis in 2009.  The purpose of the scheme is to provide funding to Local Authorities to undertake minor flood mitigation works or studies to address localised fluvial flooding and coastal protection problems within their administrative areas. The scheme generally applies where a solution can be readily identified and achieved in a short time frame. The works to be funded are carried out under Local Authority powers and ongoing maintenance of the completed works is the responsibility of the Council.

Under the scheme, applications are considered for projects that are estimated to cost not more than €750,000 in each instance. Funding of up to 90% of the cost is available for approved projects.  Applications are assessed by the OPW having regard to the specific economic, social and environmental criteria of the scheme, including a cost benefit ratio and having regard to the availability of funding for flood risk management.

Under this Scheme, over 530 Minor Works projects have been completed to the end of 2018, providing local flooding solutions to almost 6,800 properties with expenditure amounting to €34.7m over the same period.  This year to date, 32 projects amounting to €3.1m have been approved and notified to local authorities.   Full details of this scheme are available on www.opw.ie.

Skills Shortages

Ceisteanna (161)

Darragh O'Brien

Ceist:

161. Deputy Darragh O'Brien asked the Minister for Education and Skills the steps he is taking to address labour shortages in the construction sector; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52564/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The Government is closely monitoring all aspects of construction skills and labour supply, through the national skills database and through the work of the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs (EGFSN), the National Skills Council and the Regional Skills Fora.  The EGFSN is currently tendering for a skills demand study to determine the demand and nature of the Irish Construction sector’s skills needs in the period to 2030.  A Construction Sector Working Group has also been established to ensure regular and open dialogue between Government and the construction sector in relation to issues that may impact on the successful delivery of the National Development Plan (NDP) on a value-for-money basis for the State. Part of the Group's remit is to consider the supply of necessary skills and enhancing the capacity of the sector to meet infrastructural priorities over the next decade.

As a demand driven programme, the number of apprenticeship placements is determined by employers within the construction sector. In recent years, annual intake in construction related apprenticeships has steadily been increasing, from a low level of just 650 in 2010 to 3,398 in 2018.  As of end November there were 3,300 new registrations on construction related apprenticeships, and these are forecast to increase further up to 2022.   The range of apprenticeships on offer is also being expanded to meet the identified skill needs of the sector.  Arising from the Apprenticeship Council’s two calls for apprenticeship proposals, an apprenticeship in Engineering Services Management was rolled out in 2019.  Apprenticeships in scaffolding, quantity surveyor and roofing and cladding scaffolding and senior quantity surveyor apprenticeship are currently being developed into national apprenticeship programmes. 

Construction skills are also being targeted through Higher Education programmes, including Springboard, and through further education and training programmes. In the area of Construction, there are 14 courses under Springboard+ 2019, providing for 374 places. To date 272 participants have enrolled in or accepted places on these courses. It is expected that this number will rise in the New Year as some of the approved course in the construction sector will not begin until the spring and others may have a second intake of students.

In terms of upskilling the existing workforce, initiatives include the establishment of a dedicated NZEB Training centre in Wexford which is currently providing 10 NZEB training programmes to existing construction workers in areas such as plumbing, electrical, bricklaying, carpentry and plastering.  As of the end of October 2019, 322 people received NZEB training. In November 2019 the Skillnet Ireland board approved the awarding of funding to a new Skillnet named the Construction Professional Skillnet which will be promoted by the Construction Industry Federation. This network will seek to improve competitiveness of the industry through upskilling the workforce, and create talent pipelines by developing resilience, core competencies and accessible progression opportunities to a predominantly young workforce.

The most recent review of the employment permits occupations lists concluded on 12th July with 34 submissions of proposals for adjustments, 8 of which were from the construction sector including CIF. Among the construction industry submission job titles were Façade/Curtain Wall Designer and Building Information Modelling Specialists – BIM Manager/BIM Technicians (Modeler).  A submission is due to be brought to Minister Humphreys before the end of the year.

Apprenticeship Programmes

Ceisteanna (162)

Darragh O'Brien

Ceist:

162. Deputy Darragh O'Brien asked the Minister for Education and Skills the outcome of the review of a decision not to expand a pilot shared apprenticeship scheme for the construction sector in 2018; his plans in this regard; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52565/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

Registrations on craft apprenticeships have grown strongly in recent years following a very significant collapse in the number of apprenticeship registrations between 2008 and 2011. SOLAS, in partnership with Construction Industry Federation (CIF) and Waterford Wexford Education and Training Board (WWETB), operated a pilot initiative to test the viability of a shared apprenticeship scheme.  

Following analysis of the pilot outcomes and in consultation with both the CIF and WWETB, I understand that SOLAS decided not to operationalise the pilot initiative more widely.  In particular, it was found that the pilot did not attract employers in sufficient numbers to suggest that the scheme had the potential to have a significant impact on apprenticeship recruitment. 

However, I understand from SOLAS that it is currently in discussions with representatives from the construction industry to assess how the scheme could be made more viable. CIF is currently seeking support from its members and employers for the shared apprenticeship scheme in order to progress the matter.

Special Educational Needs Staff Data

Ceisteanna (163)

Thomas Pringle

Ceist:

163. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of applications for SNA access made for County Donegal to the NCSE during the 2018/2019 and 2019/2020 school year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52575/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The National Council for Special Education (NCSE) is responsible for the management of the application process for Special Needs Assistant (SNA) support and I will forward the Deputy's question for its direct reply. 

The NCSE has published details of SNA allocations for all schools which are available to view on a per county basis, including special schools.  Details can be accessed on the NCSE website at www.ncse.ie or by using the following link http://ncse.ie/statistics

Special Educational Needs Staff Data

Ceisteanna (164)

Thomas Pringle

Ceist:

164. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of applications for SNA access made since the May 2019 allocation of SNA posts for County Donegal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52576/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I announced on 27th May that 792 additional Special Needs Assistant (SNA) posts would be allocated to schools for the beginning of the 2019/20 school year, with almost 130 additional posts expected to be allocated by December 2019.

By the end of this year, there will be up to 15,950 SNAs working in our schools, an increase of over 51% since 2011.  

The National Council for Special Education (NCSE) is responsible for the management of the application process for SNA support and I will forward the Deputy's questions for its direct reply. 

The NCSE has published details of SNA allocations for all schools which are available to view on a per county basis, including special schools.  Details can be accessed on the NCSE website at www.ncse.ie or by using the following link http://ncse.ie/statistics

Remote Area Boarding Grant

Ceisteanna (165)

Brendan Howlin

Ceist:

165. Deputy Brendan Howlin asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reason for the delay in awarding a remote area grant to a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52600/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

School Transport is a significant operation managed by Bus Éireann on behalf of the Department.  In the 2018/2019 school year over 117,500 children, including over 13,000 children with special educational needs, were transported in over 5,000 vehicles on a daily basis to primary and post-primary schools throughout the country covering over 100 million kilometres at a cost of over €200m in 2018. 

The purpose of my Department's School Transport Scheme is, having regard to available resources, to support the transport to and from school of children who reside remote from their nearest school.

Under the terms of the Post-Primary School Transport Scheme, children are eligible for transport where they reside not less than 4.8 kilometres from and are attending their nearest education centre as determined by the Department of Education/Bus Éireann, having regard to ethos and language.  

Children who are eligible for school transport and who complete the application process on time are accommodated on school transport services where such services are in operation.  Children who are eligible for school transport but for whom no service is available may be offered the Remote Area Grant towards the cost of making private transport arrangements.  

 The child referred to by the Deputy is eligible for transport and is also eligible for the remote area grant from the commencement of the 2019/20 school year.  The grant is payable annually following receipt of the pupil’s statement of attendance at the end of the school year. School Transport Section of my Department will be liaising with families in the New Year regarding remote area grant sanctions for the 2019/20 school year.

School Accommodation Provision

Ceisteanna (166)

Richard Boyd Barrett

Ceist:

166. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Education and Skills when a school (details supplied) will move to a permanent location; his views on whether it should move into the first of the new schools to be completed in the Cherrywood SDZ in 2020 and 2021 for its permanent relocation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52604/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

In order to plan for school provision and analyse the relevant demographic data, my Department divides the country into 314 school planning areas and uses a Geographical Information System, using data from a range of sources, to identify where the pressure for school places across the country will arise. With this information, my Department carries out nationwide demographic exercises to determine where additional school accommodation is needed at primary and post-primary level.  

As the Deputy will be aware, in April 2018, the Government announced plans for the establishment of 42 new schools over the four years from 2019 to 2022.

On 3rd of September last I confirmed, as part of a framework to provide more opportunities to increase the provision of Irish Medium education through new schools and the expansion of existing schools, that in some circumstances the language of new schools established in the coming will be designated as Irish. This included one of the two schools due to be established in Cherrywood over the period 2020-2022.

The new schools in Cherrywood are planned to accommodate demand arising from residential development in the area. Major new residential developments in a school planning area have the potential to alter demographic demand in that area. Accordingly, as part of nationwide demographic exercises which my Department undertakes, my Department engages with each of the local authorities to obtain information on significant new residential development. This is necessary to ensure that schools infrastructure planning is keeping pace with demographic changes as there is a constantly evolving picture with planned new residential development. This particularly the case with Cherrywood, with much residential development envisaged to take place in a short period of time.

The school referred to by the Deputy is currently based in temporary accommodation. It is intended that the school will relocate to a former primary school building that is currently occupied by a special school when the building project for the special school has been completed.

It is not possible for an interim move for the school to the site opening in Cherrywood in 2020 for a number of reasons including site restrictions and as there will be temporary accommodation on the site while the permanent school building is being constructed on a phased basis.

The requirement for new schools is kept under ongoing review and in particular will have regard to the increased rollout of housing provision as outlined in Project Ireland 2040. In the context of reviewing demographic demand, in conjunction with any capacity in an area, my Department intends to have additional engagement with patron bodies to incorporate their local knowledge on school place requirements.

I can confirm that my Department has received correspondence from the school in question and its patron body. The Department will take into account the issues raised in the correspondence and will liaise further with the patron as part of the wider engagement mentioned above.

School Transport Data

Ceisteanna (167)

Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire

Ceist:

167. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of primary and secondary school students, respectively, availing of the school transport scheme. [52641/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

School Transport is a significant operation managed by Bus Éireann on behalf of the Department.  The purpose of the scheme is, having regard to available resources, to support the transport to and from school of children who reside remote from their nearest school.   In general children are eligible for school transport if they meet the distance criteria and are attending their nearest school. 

In the 2018/2019 school year over 117,500 children, including over 13,000 children with special educational needs, were transported in over 5,000 vehicles on a daily basis to primary and post-primary schools throughout the country covering over 100 million kilometres at a cost of over €200m in 2018. 

Bus Éireann has confirmed that there are over 120,000 children availing of school transport in the 2019/20 school year, including over 14,200 children with special educational needs, and of which over 38,000 children are availing of transport to primary schools and over 68,000 to post primary schools.