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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 77-83
 Header Item Value for Money Reviews
 Header Item Mortgage Interest Rates Issues
 Header Item Property Taxation Exemptions
 Header Item Budget 2014 Issues
 Header Item Site Acquisitions
 Header Item Further Education and Training Programmes Provision
 Header Item Value for Money Reviews

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 806 No. 2

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Written Answers Nos. 77-83

Value for Money Reviews

 77. Deputy Sean Fleming Information on Seán Fleming Zoom on Seán Fleming asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan if he will set out the value for money reports and the focused policy assessments carried out within his Department since March 2011; the actions that have been taken to implement such reports; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [28174/13]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan In September 2008 the Government agreed to undertake a new round of Value for Money and Policy Reviews covering the three year period 2009-2011. The Department of Finance was not scheduled to carry out any reviews during that round. Instead, the evaluative resources within the Department of Finance (via the Central Expenditure Evaluation Unit) were to be focused primarily on contributing to the process through membership of the Steering Committees for individual reviews and through co-authoring on the larger reviews. The Central Expenditure Evaluation Unit transferred to the newly formed Department of Public Expenditure and Reform from July 2011. A review of the Paymaster General Office was proposed for inclusion in the 2012 round of reviews. This review is now encompassed within a general review of Financial Management Reporting and Banking as part of a general shared services initiative.

Mortgage Interest Rates Issues

 78. Deputy John Lyons Information on John Lyons Zoom on John Lyons asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan his views on the recent interest rate increase on variable rate mortgages by a bank (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28194/13]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan I, as Minister for Finance, have no statutory role in relation to the variable mortgage interest rates charged by regulated financial institutions. It is a commercial matter for the banks concerned. The mortgage interest rates that financial institutions operating in Ireland charge to customers are determined as a result of a commercial decision by the institutions concerned. This interest rate is determined taking into account a broad range of factors, including European Central Bank base rates, deposit rates, market funding costs, the competitive environment and an institution’s overall funding arrangements.

However, as part of the Central Bank’s work on mortgage arrears, lenders were asked to consider all avenues to help customers in arrears, including interest rate reductions. Currently, several lenders do consider a temporary interest rate reduction but this is on a case by case basis.

Property Taxation Exemptions

 79. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan in view of the exemption from the local property tax for residential properties owned by a charity or a public body and used to provide accommodation and support for persons who have a particular need in addition to a general housing need to enable them to live in the community such as sheltered accommodation for the elderly or the disabled, the reason it is that a disabled person living alone in a specially adapted house that she inherited would not be eligible for an exemption. [28264/13]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan Based on the information provided by the Deputy it is not possible to give a definitive reply. However, the following information may be of relevance, depending on the circumstances. While there is no overall exemption from the Local Property Tax (LPT) for a person with a disability, or for houses which have been specially adapted to cater for a resident with a disability, in certain limited circumstances an exemption may apply. Section 10B of the Finance (Local Property Tax) Act 2012 (as amended) provides that an exemption from the charge to LPT may apply to a residential property purchased, built or adapted to make it suitable for occupation by a permanently and totally incapacitated individual as their sole or main residence, where an award has been made by the Personal Injuries Assessment Board or a court, or where a trust has been established, specifically for the benefit of such individuals.

I am advised that section 189A of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997 (as amended), defines 'incapacitated individual' as an individual who is permanently and totally incapacitated, by reason of mental or physical infirmity, from being able to maintain himself or herself. Entitlement to the exemption provided for in section 10B will depend on whether the extent of a person’s disability is such that they are permanently and totally incapacitated from being able to maintain himself or herself.

Where an exemption cannot be claimed under section 10B of the Act, an incapacitated person may qualify for a reduction in the market value of their property under section 15A of the 2012 Act. This section provides for a reduction in the market value of a residential property that has been adapted for occupation by a disabled person where the adaptation has been grant-aided or approved for grant aid, by a local authority. I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that this relief only applies where the adaptation work increases the market value of the property. Furthermore, the person with the disability must occupy the property as his or her sole or main residence after the adaptation is completed. The reduction in value is limited to the lesser of the market value attributable to the adaptation work carried out on the property and the maximum grant payable under the relevant local authority scheme.

The LPT relief for adaptations for the disabled has been linked to the grant scheme for adaptations to ensure the relief is targeted at cases where necessary adaptations are made. It also ensures consistency of approach to the issue of adapting homes to assist disabled persons to live in the community.

Budget 2014 Issues

 80. Deputy Stephen S. Donnelly Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan if he will provide a list of all publications of forecast accounts from his Department which have been released to date this year, and which will be released for the rest of the year, which provide financial information relevant to Budget 2014, and the timing of their release (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [28310/13]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan In the past, the Department of Finance has generally released three separate publications containing macroeconomic and budgetary forecasts.

1. The Stability Programme Update, the most recent of which was published on April 30th this year.

2. The Medium Term Fiscal Statement (MTFS), the most recent of which was published in early November 2012.

3. Updated forecasts in the Budget documentation.

  As the Deputy will be aware, under the two-pack of European Regulations formally adopted on the 30th of May 2013, a common budgetary timeline has been introduced for all euro area member states. In line with the requirements of the two-pack, Budget day will be on or before the 15th of October each year from now on.

  Given the new Budget date, it is proposed to incorporate the information normally published in the Medium Term Fiscal Statement each October/November into the Budget Documentation. Therefore, under the new budgetary framework, both the Stability Programme Update and the Budget will show medium-term macroeconomic and budgetary projections.

  The Deputy should also note that the Maastricht returns, which are published in April and October each year by Eurostat after submission by the CSO, contain forecasts calculated by my Department for both the general government deficit and debt for the current year.

Site Acquisitions

 81. Deputy Charlie McConalogue Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn if a site has been purchased in respect of a school (details supplied) in County Donegal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28136/13]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn I am pleased to inform the Deputy that a site for the school to which he refers was acquired by my Department in November 2012.

Further Education and Training Programmes Provision

 82. Deputy Sean Fleming Information on Seán Fleming Zoom on Seán Fleming asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn his plans to introduce legislation to ensure SOLAS develops an adult literacy and numeracy strategy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28138/13]

Minister of State at the Department of Education and Skills (Deputy Ciarán Cannon): Information on Ciarán Cannon Zoom on Ciarán Cannon I recognise that further education and training as it is currently delivered covers a broad spectrum that ranges from basic adult literacy and numeracy courses to courses that are certified at level 6 and above on the National Framework of Qualifications.

Section 9 of the Bill provides that SOLAS, once established, will prepare and submit, to the Minister, a strategy in respect of further education and training.

The issue of including a provision in the Bill for the development of a national adult literacy and numeracy strategy was raised at Dáil Committee Stage, and will be addressed in the Report Stage in the Dáil.

Value for Money Reviews

 83. Deputy Sean Fleming Information on Seán Fleming Zoom on Seán Fleming asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn if he will set out the value for money reports and the focused policy assessments carried out within his Department since March 2011; and the actions that have been taken to implement such reports.  [28172/13]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn The information is being compiled and will be sent to the Deputy as soon as possible.


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