Tuesday, 27 July 2021

Ceisteanna (732)

Dara Calleary


732. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage the procedures that should be followed when a local authority is assessing applications under the defective blocks scheme; the information that should be provided to an applicant who is deemed by that local authority to be an unsuccessful applicant; the appeals mechanism for such an applicant; his views on whether there is a need for independent input, that is, independent of the local authority who had made the original decision for the process; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40699/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

The local authority has responsibility for the detailed administration of the Defective Concrete Blocks Grant scheme, as set out under S.I. 25 of 2020. This includes the assessment of applications for eligibility and payment of grants to successful applicants under the specific remediation option approved.

Homeowners may apply to the local authority seeking confirmation of eligibility for the scheme. As part of this application process, an approved engineer's report in accordance with I.S. 465:2018 is required. The report confirms the existence or otherwise of excessive amounts of pyrite or mica in the blockwork which have given rise to defective concrete blocks and is based on a visual inspection, core sampling and laboratory testing which is carried out by the engineer employed by the homeowner.

While an engineer's report informs a local authority's consideration and assessment of a grant application, the final decision on eligibilty for the scheme in accordance with I.S. 465:2018 and the level of funding approved rests with the local authority. In the event that an application is unsuccessful, the applicant may appeal the decision through the relevant local authority within three weeks of the date of the decision. A local authority official who was not involved with the original assessment will then assess this appeal and contact the applicant with the result within six weeks.

In response to concerns being raised by homeowners in relation to the Defective Concrete Block Grant scheme, I established a time-bound working group, with representatives from my Department, the local authorities and homeowner representative groups who are tasked with reviewing the operation of the scheme and providing a report with recommendations by 31 July.

Engagement with the Working Group is on-going and in line with a request of homeowners, it was agreed that the timeline for the submission of a report by the Working Group would be extended to the end of September. This will allow for further research on core aspects of the scheme, such as the 90:10 requirement and cap on allowable costs.