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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 427-438
 Header Item Social and Affordable Housing Expenditure
 Header Item Social and Affordable Housing Provision
 Header Item Local Authority Housing Rents
 Header Item Planning Issues
 Header Item Local Government Reform
 Header Item Local Authority Housing
 Header Item Social and Affordable Housing Provision
 Header Item Irish Water Administration
 Header Item Social and Affordable Housing Provision
 Header Item Housing Assistance Payments Administration
 Header Item Social and Affordable Housing Provision

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 861 No. 1

First Page Previous Page Page of 109 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 427-438

Social and Affordable Housing Expenditure

 427. Deputy Paul Murphy Information on  Zoom on  asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Alan Kelly Zoom on Alan Kelly the average rents paid by local authorities on behalf of tenants of housing associations, as compared to the average rents paid by local authorities to for-profit private landlords, that is, through schemes such as the housing assistance payment and rental accommodation scheme. [47066/14]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Alan Kelly): Information on Alan Kelly Zoom on Alan Kelly My Department’s Capital Assistance Scheme (CAS) provides support, through the local authorities, towards the approved costs of housing bodies in providing accommodation for persons with specific categories of housing need. The provision of CAS properties is funded through the capital funding programme and local authorities do not make a rental payment to the approved housing body in respect of these properties. Under the scheme, approved housing bodies are responsible for amongst other things, the proper management of their dwellings, the operation of letting policies and fixing of rents. It is a condition of advancing a loan under the scheme that housing authorities have a clear right of consultation in relation to the fixing of rents generally and housing bodies have a responsibility to fix rents at levels which are reasonable having regard to tenants’ incomes and the outlay of the approved housing body on the accommodation including the ongoing costs of management. Full details of the scheme are available on my Department’s website at the following link:

http://www.environ.ie/en/Publications/DevelopmentandHousing/Housing/FileDownLoad,2082,en.pdf

  My Department does not hold data on the amount directly paid by authorities to landlords in respect of individual lettings under the Rental Accommodation Scheme. However, based on data provided by local authorities, the average monthly rent paid under the scheme in 2013 broken down by different types of units was as follows:

Year1 bed unit2 bed unit3 bed unit4 bed unit
2013€499€569€651€708


  With regard to the Housing Assistance Payment Scheme , the statutory pilot phase of the scheme has commenced in seven local authority areas - Limerick and Waterford City and County Councils, and Cork, Louth, Kilkenny, Monaghan and South Dublin County Councils.   Limerick City and County Council is providing a transactional shared service to other local authorities during the pilot phase.

  There are currently 307 households in receipt of HAP across 6 of the local authority areas taking part in the statutory pilot HAP scheme. South Dublin County Council is currently assessing new applicants for HAP and expects to start moving recipients onto HAP in the coming weeks. Roll out to the remaining local authorities is scheduled to begin on a phased basis in 2015. At present, the average Housing Assistance Payment being made to landlords under the pilot phase of the scheme is €462 across all classes of households.

Social and Affordable Housing Provision

 428. Deputy John McGuinness Information on John McGuinness Zoom on John McGuinness asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Alan Kelly Zoom on Alan Kelly the status of a lease or sale of 41 housing units at the Weir, County Kilkenny, being organised by the housing agency and the National Asset Management Agency; if his Department is funding the project; if so, if he will provide the details of the purchase-lease costs and so on; the name of the voluntary housing agency that will manage the project; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47077/14]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Alan Kelly): Information on Alan Kelly Zoom on Alan Kelly My Department, the Housing Agency and NAMA continue to work together with housing authorities and approved housing bodies in identifying suitable NAMA housing units and bringing them into social housing use. When considering the acquisition or leasing of units for social housing the relevant local authority initially carries out an assessment of the proposal. To date my Department has provided funding approval for 24 NAMA-related social housing units in the Kilkenny County Council area. This does not include any units in the development mentioned. I understand that units in that development are the subject of on-going consideration.

Local Authority Housing Rents

 429. Deputy Michael Creed Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Alan Kelly Zoom on Alan Kelly the reason all local authorities are not obliged to use An Post for the collection of local authority rent; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47137/14]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Alan Kelly): Information on Alan Kelly Zoom on Alan Kelly The Household Budget facility provided by An Post is available to those local authority tenants who are paid certain social welfare benefits through An Post, and allows tenants to have their rent and other utility bills deducted from these payments. The facility is available in all local authority areas to use as they deem appropriate, and tenants must agree to apply to use the facility for the payment of rent.

The Housing Agency issued guidance earlier this year recommending that local authorities require all new social housing tenants to sign up to the scheme as a condition of their tenancy. This advice followed the introduction in January 2014 by the Department of Social Protection of revised legislation governing the scheme which requires that any tenant who wishes to exit the scheme may only do so with the consent of the relevant housing body.

Planning Issues

 430. Deputy Brendan Griffin Information on Brendan Griffin Zoom on Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Alan Kelly Zoom on Alan Kelly if he will initiate an inquiry into the handling of a planning case (details supplied) by a local authority; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47143/14]

Minister of State at the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Paudie Coffey): Information on Paudie Coffey Zoom on Paudie Coffey From inquiries made of Limerick County Council, it is understood that a number of pre-planning meetings took place with the person concerned before he lodged his first planning application for proposed development works ( ref 06/3641). The Council has indicated that there w ere a number of planning issues with this application and after a number of further meetings with the person concerned at which these issues were discussed, he withdrew the application. The person concerned subsequently submitted a further application for planning permission on 20 June 2008 for revised development works ( ref 08/1288). This application was refused by Limerick County Council and the person concerned did not appeal that decision to An Bord Pleanála even though the availability of this option was brought to his attention.

The person concerned subsequently made a complaint to the Office of the Ombudsman alleging that he had suffered losses due to maladministration by Limerick County Council arising from the handling of his planning applications. However, after conducting an in-depth investigation into the matter, the Ombudsman found that there was no basis for this allegation.

Under section 30 of the Planning and Development Act 2000, as amended, I am specifically precluded from exercising any power or control in relation to any particular planning case with which a planning authority or An Bord Pleanála is or may be concerned. Accordingly, I have no function in relation to this matter.

Local Government Reform

 431. Deputy Fergus O'Dowd Information on Fergus O'Dowd Zoom on Fergus O'Dowd asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Alan Kelly Zoom on Alan Kelly the position regarding the primacy of the office of the mayor of Drogheda within the urban area of what was formerly Drogheda Borough Council; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47146/14]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Alan Kelly): Information on Alan Kelly Zoom on Alan Kelly The Cathaoirleach of a municipal district or, in the case of the Borough District of Drogheda, the Mayor, takes precedence at all meetings and proceedings of the municipal district members in accordance with section 31(4)(b) of the Local Government 2001 Act, as amended by the Local Government Reform Act 2014.

Local Authority Housing

 432. Deputy Charlie McConalogue Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Alan Kelly Zoom on Alan Kelly his Department's policy regarding the removal of open fire back boilers in local authority houses; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47156/14]

 444. Deputy Charlie McConalogue Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Alan Kelly Zoom on Alan Kelly if there is discretion given to allow a back boiler being installed in a local authority house which will heat radiators in view of the fact that the applicant has an adult dependent with special needs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47219/14]

I propose to take Questions Nos 432 and 444  together.

The management and maintenance of the social housing stock, including the compilation and funding of on-going maintenance programmes and improvements including central heating systems, and minor adaptation works, is a matter for individual local authorities.

In the case of local authority owned properties, funding is allocated each year in respect of a range of measures to improve the standard and overall quality of their social housing stock, including the regeneration of large social housing estates and flat complexes, estate-wide remedial works schemes and a range of retrofitting works aimed at improving the fabric and energy efficiency of the properties. My Department also provides funding to local authorities for adaptations and extensions to the social housing stock to meet the needs of tenants with a disability or to address serious overcrowding. €8m was allocated for such purposes this year.

Social and Affordable Housing Provision

 433. Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Alan Kelly Zoom on Alan Kelly if he will provide in tabular form the number of Part V social and affordable units which are available on a county basis, but which have not been as yet acquired by the relevant local authorities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47175/14]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Alan Kelly): Information on Alan Kelly Zoom on Alan Kelly The information requested is not available in my Department. Under the existing Part V provisions, developers are currently required to ensure that 20% of land zoned for residential, and other uses, shall be reserved for social or affordable housing. However, with the substantial fall off in private construction, very little social housing is currently being provided under Part V.

  Informed by a recent review of the Part V provisions, which included a public consultation process, my Department has published the General Scheme of the Planning and Development (No. 1) Bill 2014 which is available on my Department’s website at the following link:


http://www.environ.ie/en/PublicationsDocuments/FileDownLoad,39512,en.pdf

  The General Scheme provides that, in future, the focus of Part V will be on social housing, with a requirement for up to 10% social housing in developments in excess of 9 units. In the operation of these revised Part V arrangements, the priority will be to secure social housing units on-site; the monetary alternative in lieu of social housing is to be discontinued.

  The Bill is in the process of being drafted with a view to enactment in 2015.

Irish Water Administration

 434. Deputy Terence Flanagan Information on Terence Flanagan Zoom on Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Alan Kelly Zoom on Alan Kelly his views on correspondence (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47182/14]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Alan Kelly): Information on Alan Kelly Zoom on Alan Kelly Since 1 January 2014 Irish Water has statutory responsibility for all aspects of water services planning, delivery and operation at national, regional and local levels. Decisions on specific operational matters including the use of external resources are a matter for the company and I have no role in that regard.

  Irish Water has established a dedicated team to deal with representations and queries from public representatives and has contacted all Oireachtas members to provide details of an improved level of service which it is aiming to provide. The team can be contacted via email to
oireachtasmembers@water.ie or by telephone on a new dedicated number, 1890 578 578.

Social and Affordable Housing Provision

 435. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Alan Kelly Zoom on Alan Kelly regarding the recent social housing strategy if he will provide a breakdown of the 35,000 homes that are planned for the period to 2020; if he will also provide a breakdown of the number of these that will be directly built council houses, with a breakdown per local authority; the number that will be provided for by approved housing bodies, AHBs, with a breakdown of the number per AHB and per local authority and the names of these approved housing bodies; the number that will be provided by the social housing leasing initiatives and a breakdown per local authority; and if he will divide all these figures between phase 1 2015-2017 and phase 2 2017-2020. [47185/14]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Alan Kelly): Information on Alan Kelly Zoom on Alan Kelly The Social Housing Strategy 2020: Support, Supply and Reform, approved by Government and published last month, builds on the provisions contained in Budget 2015 and sets out clear, measurable actions and targets to increase the supply of social housing, reform delivery arrangements and meet the housing needs of all households on the housing list.

  In committing to provide 35,000 new social housing units, at a projected cost of €3.8 billion, the strategy marks a fresh start for social housing in Ireland.  It is estimated that this level of investment will create or sustain some 29,000 construction industry jobs.  Importantly, the Strategy restores the State to a central role in the provision of social housing through a resumption of direct building on a significant scale, primarily by local authorities and approved housing bodies.

  Over the 6 years of the strategy, I anticipate that the 35,000 units will be delivered as follows: 22,273 units to be built and acquired utilising both current and capital monies; 11,000 units to be leased; and 2,300 units to be supplied through the refurbishment and bringing back in to use of vacant local authority stock.

  The strategy will be delivered in two phases. Phase 1 targets the delivery of 18,000 additional housing units and 32, 4 00 Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) and Rental Accommodation Scheme (RAS) units, by the end of 2017. In phase 2, spanning the years 2018 to 2020, the strategy targets the delivery of 17,000 additional units and 43,000 Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) and Rental Accommodation Scheme (RAS) units.

  While proposals for delivery of social housing at local authority level is a matter for individual authorities taking account of statutory functions under the Housing Acts 1966 to 2014, proposals must be cognisant of measures outlined in the strategy. For 2015, I expect that some 7,400 new social housing units will be provided under the range of existing initiatives broken down as follows: 3,000 units through the leasing initiative; 2,000 new Rental Accommodation Scheme (RAS) units; 1,000 vacant local authority units will be refurbished and brought back to use; with a further 1,400 units to be built or acquired by local authorities and Approved Housing Bodies through the Social Housing Investment Programme and Capital Assistance Scheme. A further 8,400 households will be assisted through the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP).

  The strategy provides a clear governance structure, which I will personally oversee, to ensure delivery. Action 1 of the Strategy requires the agreement of targets for delivery of social housing next year and in subsequent years. These specific targets will be agreed through the governance structure , which is currently being put in place, in collaboration with local authorities and with input from the approved housing body sector.

  The Strategy also provides for a dedicated work-stream to provide for an enhanced role for Approved Housing Bodies in the provision of new supply. A number of actions are proposed that will help to promote optimal configuration of what is a very diverse sector, and encourage the formation of the large scale providers that the sector needs.

Housing Assistance Payments Administration

 436. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Alan Kelly Zoom on Alan Kelly his plans to move 75,000 families and persons from rent allowance to the housing assistance payment scheme by 2020; if he will provide the full details of this scheme; the number of applicants per local authority and per year; the details of discussions to date with landlords; and if these applicants will be removed from the local authority housing list. [47186/14]

 437. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Alan Kelly Zoom on Alan Kelly regarding the expansion of the housing assistance payment scheme, the new resources he will be providing to local authorities to deal with the increased work load this will bring. [47187/14]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Alan Kelly): Information on Alan Kelly Zoom on Alan Kelly I propose to take Questions Nos. 436 and 437 together.

  I refer to the reply to Question No. 85 of 2 December 2014.

  The implementation of the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) is a key Government priority and a major pillar of the Social Housing Strategy 2020, which was launched last month. The HAP scheme will bring all social housing supports provided by the State under the aegis of local authorities. The scheme will remove a barrier to employment by allowing recipients to remain in the scheme if they gain full-time employment. HAP will also improve regulation of the rented accommodation being supported and provide certainty for landlords as regards their rental income.

  It is intended that the strategy will be delivered in two phases. Phase 1 will target the accommodation of 32,400 households through HAP and RAS in the period to the end of 2017. In phase 2, spanning the years 2018 to 2020, the strategy targets the accommodation of some 43,000 additional households through HAP and the Rental Accommodation Scheme ( RAS ). The table below details the breakdown by scheme of additional households expected to be accommodated through HAP and RAS in the period 2015 to 2020.

Delivery 2015 2016-2017 2018-2020 
 -Units Units Units
HAP 8,400 20,000 41,040
RAS 2,000 2,000 2,000
Period Total 10,400 22,000 43,040
Cumulative Total 10,400 32,400 75,400 


  It is intended that some 8,400 households will be accommodated through HAP in 2015. There are currently 307 households in receipt of HAP across 6 of the local authority areas taking part in the statutory pilot HAP scheme. South Dublin County Council is currently assessing new applicants for HAP and expects to start moving recipients onto HAP in the coming weeks. Roll out to the remaining local authorities is scheduled to begin on a phased basis in 2015.

  Throughout the development of the HAP Scheme discussions have taken place with a wide variety of interested stakeholder s including landlord representative groups. This engagement will continue, as appropriate, as the scheme moves towards full roll out.

  The delivery of the HAP Programme is being overseen by an Oversight Group co-chaired by my Department and the Department of Social Protection, and also including representation from the County and City Management Association (CCMA). The Oversight Group, taking account of the experience of the local authorities involved in the first phase of HAP, is considering the service delivery options, including the costs and resource requirements.

Social and Affordable Housing Provision

 438. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Alan Kelly Zoom on Alan Kelly regarding the approved housing bodies taking an expanded role in social housing delivery; if he will be putting in place more comprehensive transfer policies to allow for families that grow in size from when they are first allocated homes. [47188/14]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Alan Kelly): Information on Alan Kelly Zoom on Alan Kelly The Social Housing Strategy 2020: Support, Supply and Reform sets out clear, measurable actions and targets to increase the supply of social housing, reform delivery arrangements and meet the housing needs of all households on the housing list. Central to the Government’s vision for the provision of social housing supports will be an enhanced role for the approved housing bodies in the provision of new supply.

  In committing to provide 35,000 new social housing units, at a projected cost of €3.8 billion, the Strategy marks a fresh start for social housing in Ireland. Importantly, the Strategy restores the State to a central role in the provision of social housing through a resumption of direct building on a significant scale, primarily by local authorities and approved housing bodies.

  The Strategy also includes a commitment to review allocations policy generally in 2015, which will include the development of a standardised transfer policy. Currently tenants of approved housing bodies are entitled to apply to the relevant housing authority for a transfer to another dwelling in accordance with the authority’s allocation scheme. Under the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009, all housing authorities are required to make an allocation scheme determining the order of priority to be accorded in the allocation of dwellings to households qualified for social housing support and to households in receipt of such support who have been approved for a transfer to another dwelling provided by a local authority or approved housing body.


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