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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 439-50
 Header Item Social and Affordable Housing Provision
 Header Item Social and Affordable Housing Provision
 Header Item Commercial Rates
 Header Item Local Authority Housing Waiting Lists
 Header Item Irish Water Remit
 Header Item Housing Inspections
 Header Item An Fhoireann Rannach
 Header Item Homeless Accommodation Funding

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. 439-50

Social and Affordable Housing Provision

 439. 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 if he will provide the details of new PPPs that he proposes will play a role in the new social housing strategy. [47189/14]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Alan Kelly): Information on Alan Kelly Zoom on Alan Kelly The Government's Social Housing Strategy 2020 envisages that the standard availability-based design, build, finance and maintain (DBFM) Public Private Partnership model will be used as a basis for the delivery of a large-scale social housing investment, delivering social housing units in multiple locations and procured within the same public contract. The model proposed has been used to build a number of national roads and 23 schools in Ireland and is also being used to deliver primary health care centres and a programme of new and refurbished courthouses. This considerable experience will be used to ensure that the housing PPP can deliver significant scale, value for money for the State and a return for investors.

  Under the detailed governance arrangements outlined in the Strategy an Oversight Group, which I will Chair, will oversee delivery of the 37 actions. A project board will ensure that all actions are progressed and 5 work streams will carry out the necessary work on particular actions. One such work stream will deal with finance and it will carry out the detailed work on the PPP proposal, bringing together the relevant expertise required.

Social and Affordable Housing Provision

 440. 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 social housing leasing initiative that he proposes will play a larger role in the delivery of social housing, if he will provide full details of this initiative; the length of these leases; the number of landlords he expects to take part in this scheme; and the details of all negotiations with landlords in this regard. [47190/14]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Alan Kelly): Information on Alan Kelly Zoom on Alan Kelly The Social Housing Leasing Initiative (SHLI), introduced in 2009, is a continuation of a process commenced with the introduction of the Rental Accommodation Scheme to develop a system of flexible and graduated housing supports to households.

  To date, under SHLI, my Department has issued approval for over 8, 400 housing units to be brought into social housing use. Of the units approved for leasing, over 5 ,500 are tenanted or in the process of being tenanted. A further 1,500 units have received full funding approval and negotiations and legal agreements are being finalised.   The remaining units are at approval in principle stage.

  The Social Housing Strategy 2020, which I launched recently, contains a number of actions to reform the delivery and management of social housing and one such action will be to increase the delivery of accommodation through the leasing initiative.

  Since the initiative was announced in 2009, SHLI has expanded on a number of occasions to provide for new types of supply and to involve a wider range of agencies and bodies in delivering or managing leased accommodation. In that context housing units are acquired in a number of ways and through a variety of sources. As well as the direct leasing of units by local authorities and approved housing bodies, units can also be purchased by approved housing bodies using capital advances and payment and availability agreements, or by entering into mortgage-to-rent arrangements.   The units delivered through SHLI are also sourced from a variety of sources including those provided by NAMA, units leased or purchased from the private market, and the use of unsold affordable dwellings held by local authorities to accommodate households in need of social housing support.

  In respect of units leased through the Scheme, individual l ease agreements can vary from 6 months to 30 years depending on the need in the area, type of agreement being used and the specific local authority requirements.

  While my Department provides funding to local authorities and approved housing bodies to facilitate the scheme, negotiations with property owners to enter into lease agreements in respect of individual units or groups of units are undertaken by the local authority or approved body, subject to the general terms and conditions of the scheme.

Commercial Rates

 441. 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 if there is any leeway within the law for local authorities to allow a commercial business, having fully paid all local authority rates to the moving date, move to new premises without being legally liable for the payment of commercial rates until the end of the calendar year for its former premises while also, and at the same time, paying in full all rates due on foot of its new location to the competent local authority; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47201/14]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Alan Kelly): Information on Alan Kelly Zoom on Alan Kelly Local authorities are under a statutory obligation to levy rates on the occupiers of rateable property in accordance with the details entered in the valuation lists prepared by the independent Commissioner of Valuation under the Valuation Act 2001. The levying and collection of rates are matters for each individual local authority.

Under rating legislation, the person liable for payment of rates is the person in occupation of a rateable property on the date of the making of the rate by the relevant local authority. Should a person’s occupancy commence after the date of the making of the rate, then that person is not primarily liable for rates for that year.

Section 2(1) of the Poor Law (Ireland) Amendment Act 1890 provides that where an owner or occupier has not paid the rate in respect of which he or she is liable and vacates the premises before the end of the year, the local authority can determine that the occupier should pay only a portion of the rate based on the period he or she was in occupation. Section 2(2) of that Act provides that in the event another occupier takes up occupation after the date the rate has been made, the rating authority can determine that the incoming occupier should pay a portion of the rate proportionate to their occupation. Section 62 of the Local Government Act 1898 provides that these provisions can only have effect in cases where the rating authority has used its facility under section 2(1).

As with all local charges, the invoicing and collection of due amounts is a matter for the local authority concerned to manage in the light of prevailing local circumstances and in accordance with normal accountancy procedures.

Local Authority Housing Waiting Lists

 442. 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 the number of families and persons on the housing waiting list broken down by local authority and showing the same figures for 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013; and the month-on-month increase in different local authorities over the past year. [47207/14]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Alan Kelly): Information on Alan Kelly Zoom on Alan Kelly The latest summary of social housing assessments was carried out as at 7 May 2013 in accordance with section 21 of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009 , which provides that the Minister may from “time to time” direct local authorities to prepare a summary of the social housing assessments carried out in their administrative areas. The summary results   provide data on the number of households on local authority waiting lists at that date across a range of categories broken down by authority, including the composition of qualified households. The 2013 results are available on my Department’s website at: http://www.environ.ie/en/Publications/DevelopmentandHousing/Housing/FileDownLoad,34857,en.pdf.

  The 2013 figures are the most up-to-date figures available on waiting list numbers, which are subject to on-going fluctuation due to households being allocated housing and new households applying for housing support.  However, the 2013 results cannot be directly compared to previous results given that this latest summary employed different methodologies and was the first to be carried out under the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009 and the associated 2011 Social Housing Assessment Regulations.

  Previous assessments were carried out on a tri-annual basis in accordance with the Housing Act 1988. The results of the 2011 assessment are also available on my Department’s website at:

http://www.environ.ie/en/Publications/DevelopmentandHousing/Housing/FileDownLoad,27864,en.pdf.

  In order to get a better picture of the dynamics of the numbers applying for social housing support, future assessments of need under the new social housing assessment system, which came into operation in April 2011, are to be conducted on a more regular basis. The Social Housing Strategy 2020 which I launched last month contains a number of actions to reform the delivery an d management of social housing and one such action will be to carry out social housing assessments on an annual basis, commencing in 2016.

Irish Water Remit

 443. 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 free water agreements made by local authorities will be honoured by Irish Water; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47212/14]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Alan Kelly): Information on Alan Kelly Zoom on Alan Kelly The Water Services (No. 2) Act 2013 provides for the transfer of responsibility for the delivery of water services from the local authorities to Irish Water and, with effect from 1 January 2014, Irish Water is responsible for the provision of public water services, including responsibility for the charging of non-domestic customers. The Act provides that Irish Water can collect charges from its customers in receipt of water services provided by it. The Act also provides that responsibility for the independent economic regulation of the water sector is assigned to the Commission for Energy Regulation (CER) and the CER has been given statutory responsibility for protecting the interests of customers.

  Existing arrangements for all non-domestic customers are remaining in place with no changes for the time being. On this basis, any agreements individuals have with their local authorities will remain, and the local authorities will continue to bill for non-domestic water services as agents of Irish Water. Within this framework, I would expect that specific contractual arrangements entered into by local authorities would continue to remain in force, but this will depend on the nature of the contract or agreement. The CER will be reviewing all aspects of non-domestic water tariffs under a series of public consultations, so that an enduring tariff framework can be established for non-domestic charges. The CER will publish the time-line for this process before the end of 2014.

  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.

  Question No. 444 answered with Question No. 432.

Housing Inspections

 445. Deputy Robert Troy Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Alan Kelly Zoom on Alan Kelly the reason his Department carries out audits on the contractors who work on the SEAI housing insulation grants in December, when it would be more effective to have the audits in summer and allow the contractors to continue providing insulation in the winter months. [47233/14]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Alan Kelly): Information on Alan Kelly Zoom on Alan Kelly The scheme referred to is funded by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland, which also sets its terms and conditions, including auditing of contractors. Accordingly, my Department has no function in this matter.

  Question No. 446 answered with Question No. 424.

An Fhoireann Rannach

 447. D'fhiafraigh Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív Information on Éamon Ó Cuív Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív den Aire Comhshaoil, Pobail agus Rialtais Áitiúil Information on Alan Kelly Zoom on Alan Kelly cén líon daoine atá ag obair ina Roinn faoi láthair atá inniúil ar a chuid nó a cuid oibre a dhéanamh trí Ghaeilge; cén céatadán den fhoireann atá i gceist; comparáid a dhéanamh idir na figiúirí sin agus na figiúirí céanna in 2004, 1994, 1984 agus 1974 [47285/14]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Alan Kelly): Information on Alan Kelly Zoom on Alan Kelly Tá thart ar 27 ball foirne (4% den fhoireann) faoi láthair i mo Roinn atá inniúil ar a chuid nó a cuid oibre a dhéanamh trí mheán na Gaeilge. Níl an fhaisnéis atá á lorg maidir le blianta roimhe seo ar fáil.

Táim sásta go bhfuil, ag an am seo, go leor daoine i mo Roinn le hinniúlacht sa Ghaeilge chun na riachtanais faoi Scéim Ghaeilge 2013-2016 na Roinne a chomhlíonadh. Mar chuid de phleanáil d’fhórsa saothair, déantar monatóireacht agus athbhreithniú ar an gcás ar bhonn rialta. Cuireann mo Roinn deiseanna do hoifigigh na Roinne a gcuid scileanna teanga a fheabhsú  trí cúrsaí Gaeilge ag leibhéil éagsúla a chur ar fáil.

Homeless Accommodation Funding

 448. Deputy Gabrielle McFadden Information on  Zoom on  asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Alan Kelly Zoom on Alan Kelly the criteria used by his Department to allocate respective funding from the national homelessness budget to the eight regions in the years 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47345/14]

 449. Deputy Gabrielle McFadden Information on  Zoom on  asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Alan Kelly Zoom on Alan Kelly the criteria that will be used by his Department to allocate respective funding from the national homelessness budget for 2015 to the regions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47346/14]

 450. Deputy Gabrielle McFadden Information on  Zoom on  asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Alan Kelly Zoom on Alan Kelly the reason there is a clear disparity in funding allocation from the national homelessness budget between the midlands region and other regions, for example, statutory funding for the midlands region is less than half of the north east funding even though the population of the midlands is greater that the north east by more than 25,000 persons; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47347/14]

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. 448 to 450, inclusive, together.

  Statutory responsibility in relation to the provision of accommodation for homeless persons and related services rests with housing authorities. The purposes for which housing authorities may incur expenditure in addressing homelessness are prescribed in Section 10 of the Housing Act 1988.

  The Section 10 funding provided by my Department to housing authorities on a regional basis for the years 2009 to 2013 is set out in the following table.

  In the period 2009 to 2012, Section 10 funding was provided by my Department at the rate of 90% of the costs incurred with the housing authority providing 10% from their own resources. From 2013 onwards, Section 10 funding is allocated to housing authorities on a regional basis through delegated funding arrangements. The basis for the 2013 allocations was to use the 2012 levels of recoupment as a percentage of the overall budget. Those proportions were maintained in 2013 and 2014 as outlined in the following table.   

  During 2013 a national allocation of €45 million was available through my Department to housing authorities under Section 10 which represented a decrease of 3.32% on the 2012 outturn of €46.546 million. This 3.32% reduction was applied equally to each of the 9 regional allocations for homeless services in 2013.

  In 2014, regional allocations were maintained at the same level as 2013 and €649,707, representing approximately 1.4% of the national budget, was allocated in respect of the Midlands Region.

  Budget 2015 confirmed that an additional €10.5 million will be available for homeless services across the country in 2015. This is an increase in funding of over 20% bringing the Exchequer contribution to €55.5 million. The additional funding will ensure continued progress toward the achievement of the 2016 target of ending involuntary long-term homelessness and will assist in meeting commitments outlined in the Implementation Plan on the State’s Response to Homelessness. My Department is currently considering the appropriate allocation of the 2015 homelessness budget so as to ensure that Section 10 homeless funding contributes to meeting the needs in the various regions.

  Funding provided under section 10 of the Housing Act 1988



Region2009200920102010201120112012201220132013
 -Amount % Amount % Amount % Amount % Amount % 
Dublin €38,967,542 69.51 €40,521,375 74.07 €35,732,525 74.25 €32,398,290 69.60 €31,322,223 69.60 
South East €1,945,792 3.47 €1,742,886 3.19 €2,110,476 4.39 €1,848,877 3.97 €1,787,469 3.97 
North East €1,197,451 2.14 €1,037,617 1.90 €912,250 1.90 €910,194 1.96 €879,963 1.96 
Midlands €872,375 1.56 €666,344 1.22 €624,897 1.30 €672,027 1.44 €649,707 1.44 
South West €5,458,211 9.74 €4,270,143 7.81 €3,505,749 7.28 €4,418,967 9.49 €4,272,197 9.49 
Mid-West €4,110,166 7.33 €3,435,607 6.28 €2,905,457 6.04 €3,516,119 7.55 €3,399,336 7.55 
West €2,175,312 3.88 €1,699,288 3.11 €1,227,696 2.55 €1,581,478 3.40 €1,528,951 3.40 
Mid East €885,801 1.58 €906,842 1.66 €697,665 1.45 €839,146 1.80 €811,275 1.80 
North West €444,206 0.79 €423,355 0.77 €406,335 0.84 €360,865 0.78 €348,879 0.78 
Total €56,056,856  €54,703,457  €48,123,050  €46,545,963  €45,000,000  


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