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 Header Item NAMA Social Housing Provision (Continued)
 Header Item Pyrite Remediation Programme Issues

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 785 No. 1

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Deputy Brian Stanley: Information on Brian Stanley Zoom on Brian Stanley Everything, including bank debts, can become complex when we try to do something but we must try to make this simple. There are almost 17,000 vacant houses in unfinished estates but 100,000 people are on the waiting list. The Minister of State mentioned issues regarding the purchase of houses. Many of these houses are now for sale for less than €50,000, and there is a cost at the end of the process. That is seven years of rent.

Will the Minister of State reply to me on the idea of a rent to buy scheme? There are conditions for planning in some of these estates that relate to social housing but there could be a scheme where the tenants could rent a property and own it after a period. There could also be a super-affordable scheme, as it were. I could show the Minister of State some estates where properties cannot be sold, although she probably knows them. There are apartment blocks outside Dublin for which people cannot get loans so why are we not moving to use some of them for homeless people? We are paying millions of euro for rent allowance in a process that cannot continue as it is.

There are local authority estates that have not been completed because of inadequate funds. If a local authority has to spend €100,000 finishing an estate, should it get some units in lieu of the work when there is no money for payment? I am trying to provide solutions.

Deputy Jan O'Sullivan: Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan We are engaging regularly with NAMA and we push the agency all the time to ensure we get the best possible outcomes. We will put the various suggestions to NAMA. If we did not have a leasing system, there would be many more people on housing waiting lists. It is the most cost-effective way to house people in the current economic climate and we must use it. There are ongoing issues and we are working very hard on them. Some of the units coming from NAMA will be for homeless people. I will ensure that as we want to prioritise the people most in need.

Pyrite Remediation Programme Issues

 57. Deputy Joan Collins Information on Joan Collins Zoom on Joan Collins asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan if, noting that the HomeBond company which led house purchasers to believe they were insured against major structural damage, has shown surplus funds of €25 million which will not be called upon for major structural damage for houses built before HomeBond negotiated backing by a real insurance company in 2008, he will ensure that these funds are used to remediate HomeBond guaranteed housing damaged by heave inducing pyrite.  [54253/12]

 59. Deputy Dessie Ellis Information on Dessie Ellis Zoom on Dessie Ellis asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan the actions he is now putting in place as a result of his meetings with the construction industry insurance, quarries and banks with a view to levying these industries as was recommended by the pyrite panel; if he was successful in his discussions with these groups and an agreement has been reached or if he will seek to impose a solution.  [54547/12]

Deputy Fergus O'Dowd: Information on Fergus O'Dowd Zoom on Fergus O'Dowd I propose to take Questions Nos. 57 and 59 together.

HomeBond is a private limited company providing structural guarantees for new houses and, since November 2008, the HomeBond insurance scheme has been underwritten by Allianz Insurance. As in the case of any private company , its operations, including how it deals with the management of funds, inspections or claims, are matters for its management and board of directors. In that regard, HomeBond Insurance Services Limited is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland and my Department has no function in these matters. The Minister, Deputy Hogan, has put on record his disappointment with the stance adopted by HomeBond by withdrawing in August 2011 cover for home owners for pyrite related damage.

Following receipt of the report of the independent pyrite panel in late June 2012, the Minister has engaged with all of the main stakeholders identified in the report, including HomeBond, to explore options for a resolution to the pyrite problem, including possible funding mechanisms for a remediation scheme. Discussions are now at an advanced stage and are expected to conclude very shortly, with outcomes arrived at on the basis of the pyrite report. The pyrite panel was unambiguous in its view that those with direct and indirect responsibility for the pyrite problem should bear the cost of remediation, and this has been the core of the Minister's discussions with the stakeholders over recent months.

It was considered that sufficient progress had been made to justify the continuation of these contacts for a further short period. However, matters must be concluded very shortly and outcomes must be arrived at on the basis of the report of the pyrite panel in order that the entirely unacceptable position in which affected home owners find themselves can finally begin to be addressed. The Minister has made clear that in the event that stakeholders do not, either individually or collectively, agree a voluntary funding mechanism for a remediation scheme, he will seek Government approval for the imposition of a statutory levy on the construction, quarrying and insurance sectors. He has already announced that he is proceeding with the establishment of a resolution board, as recommended by the independent panel, and final arrangements for its establishment will be made in conjunction with consideration of the final written positions of the stakeholders.

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