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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 191-214
 Header Item School Curriculum
 Header Item State Examinations Data
 Header Item Schools Extra Curricular Activities
 Header Item Control of Dogs
 Header Item Motor Tax Collection
 Header Item Motor Tax Collection
 Header Item Wastewater Treatment
 Header Item Housing Adaptation Grant
 Header Item Motor Tax
 Header Item Motor Tax
 Header Item Housing Adaptation Grant Funding
 Header Item Local Authority Housing
 Header Item Local Authority Housing Mortgages
 Header Item Departmental Reviews
 Header Item Local Authority Housing Provision
 Header Item National Planning Framework
 Header Item Local Authority Housing Waiting Lists
 Header Item Local Authority Rates
 Header Item Capital Assistance Scheme Applications
 Header Item Capital Assistance Scheme Funding
 Header Item Protected Disclosures
 Header Item Protected Disclosures Data

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 944 No. 2

First Page Previous Page Page of 84 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 191-214

School Curriculum

 191. Deputy Michael McGrath Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the steps taken at primary and secondary levels to ensure that pupils learn money management skills which will be important throughout their lives; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15518/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton At primary level, pupils are taught the importance of saving money through the subject of Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE).

  At second level, Business Studies students are taught a strand called “Personal Finance”, which focuses on students developing a set of skills, knowledge and values that allows them to make informed decisions to effectively and responsibly manage their financial resources.

  The new Framework for Junior Cycle is based on 24 Statements of Learning, one of which is to "make informed financial decisions and develop good consumer skills".

State Examinations Data

 192. Deputy Michael McGrath Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the number of students and the percentage this is of the total number of students taking accounting, business studies and economics as subjects in the leaving certificate examinations for each of the past three completed leaving certificate examination years, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15519/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton The State Examinations Commission has statutory responsibility for operational matters relating to the certificate examinations.

  In view of this I have forwarded your query to the State Examinations Commission for direct reply to you.

Schools Extra Curricular Activities

 193. Deputy Michael McGrath Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the number of secondary schools in which banking or other personal account services are provided for the students in the school environment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15520/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton At primary level, pupils are taught the importance of saving money through the subject of Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE).

  At second level, Business Studies students are taught a strand called “Personal Finance”, which focuses on students developing a set of skills, knowledge and values that allows them to make informed decisions to effectively and responsibly manage their financial resources.

  The new Framework for Junior Cycle is based on 24 Statements of Learning, one of which is to "make informed financial decisions and develop good consumer skills".

  Under the provisions of the Education Act 1998 the Board of Management is the body charged with the direct governance of a school and therefore the provision of banking or other personal account services for students is a matter for the Board of Management of each individual school.

Control of Dogs

 194. Deputy John McGuinness Information on John McGuinness Zoom on John McGuinness asked the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney if he will withdraw the list of dangerous dog breeds and the regulations governing such breeds and instead legislate or regulate dog owners generally, making education, obligations and responsibility the central theme, as done in other EU states; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15084/17]

Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney The overall thrust of dog control legislation is to place the onus on dog owners and those in control of dogs to act responsibly by keeping their dogs under effectual control, irrespective of breed. Such responsible dog ownership is the key to reducing incidences of dog biting and other problem behaviours.

The Control of Dogs Acts 1986 to 2010 set out a range of requirements for all dog owners or any other person in charge of a dog. In particular, section 9 of the 1986 Act requires the owner or any other person in charge of a dog to accompany it and keep it under effectual control in any place other than the premises of the owner, the premises of the person in control of the dog, or other premises with the consent of the owner of the premises. Section 21 of the 1986 Act provides that the owner of a dog shall be liable in damages for damage caused in an attack on any person by the dog.

In addition to the foregoing, the Control of Dogs Regulations 1998 set out further requirements that owners of specific breeds of dogs have to follow, namely that such dogs must be muzzled and led, on a sufficiently strong leash or chain not exceeding 2 metres in length, by a competent person over 16 years of age when in a public place. The specific control requirements for these restricted breeds are a balanced and workable arrangement which recognises the rights of dog owners, respects animal welfare to the extent possible, while also taking account of the needs of society to be protected from dogs with a significant capability to inflict very serious injury, or cause death.

I am satisfied that the restrictions under the current legislative framework are fit for purpose and there are currently no plans to review the legislation.

Motor Tax Collection

 195. Deputy Aindrias Moynihan Information on Aindrias Moynihan Zoom on Aindrias Moynihan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the number of vehicles that paid motor tax in 2016; and the number that paid online and through local authorities respectively. [15440/17]

Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney My Department compiles statistics on the number of tax discs issued rather than the number of vehicles that are taxed, either online or through local authorities. As motor tax can be paid annually, half-yearly or quarterly, many motorists will tax more than once during the year and may tax exclusively online, in a motor tax office or may avail of both options over the course of a given year.

There were just over 2.6m vehicles under current taxation at 31 December 2016. In total, 5,002,795 motor tax discs were issued in 2016. Of these 3,495,742 (70%) were applied for online and 1,507,053 (30%) in motor tax offices.

Motor Tax Collection

 196. Deputy Aindrias Moynihan Information on Aindrias Moynihan Zoom on Aindrias Moynihan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the total number of vehicles on which motor tax was paid in 2016 in each of the motor tax categories, annually, six monthly and quarterly, in tabular form. [15441/17]

Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney My Department compiles statistics on the number of motor tax discs issued rather than the number of vehicles taxed. As motor tax can be paid annually, half-yearly or quarterly, many motorists will tax their vehicles more than once during a given year. The numbers of motor tax discs issued in 2016 are set out in the following table. It should be noted that they do not include some 15,000 duplicate discs that were issued over the course of the year.

  Number of Tax Discs issued in 2016 by Motor Tax Category

Assessment ClassAnnualHalf YearlyQuarterly Total
Private taxed on engine capacity (c.c.)    
not over 1,00045,26428,626114,860188,750
1,001 to 1,1001,9491,8157,29411,058
1,101 to 1,20021,86522,343111,920156,128
1,201 to 1,30028,25425,578115,199169,031
1,301 to 1,400113,64697,455518,642729,743
1,401 to 1,50013,88815,34176,275105,504
1,501 to 1,60054,10361,012367,820482,935
1,601 to 1,7001,3061,3629,42512,093
1,701 to 1,80020,96421,077125,192167,233
1,801 to 1,90022,42730,528197,773250,728
1,901 to 2,00032,91535,555244,075312,545
2,001 to 2,1007694486656
2,101 to 2,2004,7074,69827,90837,313
2,201 to 2,3001,6601,72510,24413,629
2,301 to 2,4008368443,1574,837
2,401 to 2,5004,1983,71620,82528,739
2,501 to 2,6003503081,5692,227
2,601 to 2,7004625013,1754,138
2,701 to 2,8001,1179923,4315,540
2,801 to 2,9002716139182
2,901 to 3,0004,4483,26313,35421,065
3,001 or more2,6741,8766,65511,205
Private electric533561
Private taxed on carbon dioxide emissions (CO2) - grams per km    
A0 -  0 g/km1,4921914732,156
A1 - 1-80g/km2,5064386023,546
A2 - 81 - 100 g/km80,83016,38924,056121,275
A3 - 101 - 110 g/km119,32626,26743,382188,975
A4  - 111 - 120 g/km207,76846,86296,886351,516
B1  - 121 - 130 g/km110,51237,66173,186221,359
B2 - 131 - 140 g/km145,81753,988118,413318,218
C - 141 - 155 g/km59,70830,34789,199179,254
D  - 156 - 170 g/km20,03210,51237,29367,837
E - 171 - 190 g/km8,5334,20013,77626,509
F  - 191 - 225 g/km3,3672,0104,2299,606
G  - over 225 g/km4422244131,079
Goods vehicles - unladen weight (k.g.)    
Not over 3,000 k.g.225,73383,334157,888466,955
3,001 to 4,000  k.g3,0451,0231,2875,355
4,001 to 12,000 k.g16,3875,4096,33028,126
12,001 or higher k.g.9,7603,1244,34317,227
Goods electric761582
Buses - Youth & Community/Public Service Vehicle    
9 to 20  seats3,9067167885,410
21 to 40 seats1,8084965602,864
41 to 60 seats2,0725657723,409
61 or more seats1,498112871,697
Miscellaneous    
Off-road dumper21101344
General haulage tractor7896384936
Machine/workshop/contrivance4,5319821,4897,002
Island Vehicle883  883
Agricultural tractor, trench digger, excavator86,057  86,057
Motor caravan10,591  10,591
Hearse962  962
Dumper and forklift truck2,785  2,785
Taxi and hackney21,797  21,797
Schoolbus753  753
Cycles and tricycles    
Electrical28  28
Not over 75cc2,088  2,088
76cc to 200cc4,361  4,361
201cc or over31,568  31,568
Pedestrian controlled vehicle46  46
Veteran and vintage    
Motor cycles4,351  4,351
All other vehicles42,820  42,820
Exempt vehicles32,499  32,499
Total1,648,737683,6522,654,9774,987,366

Wastewater Treatment

 197. Deputy Kevin O'Keeffe Information on Kevin O'Keeffe Zoom on Kevin O'Keeffe asked the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney his plans to open the grant scheme for all potential applicants whose domestic septic tanks and wastewater treatment units are not compliant with section 70 of the Water Services Act 2007. [14795/17]

Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney Section 70 of the Water Services Act 2007 places a duty of care on the owner of a premises to ensure that his or her waste water treatment systems are kept so as not to cause, or be likely to cause, a risk to human health or the environment, including water, the atmosphere, land, soil, plants or animals, or create a nuisance through odours. The duty of care provisions have been augmented by the Water Services (Amendment) Act 2012 and associated regulations. Any person who considers that his or her treatment system constitutes, or may constitute, a risk to human health or the environment is responsible for having any necessary remediation works carried out without delay.

The Domestic Waste Water Treatment Systems (Financial Assistance) Regulations 2013, (a copy of which is available in the Oireachtas library), brought into operation a grants scheme to assist with the cost of remediation of septic tanks and domestic waste water treatment systems which are deemed, following inspection under the EPA’s National Inspection Plan, to require repair or upgrading. The grant scheme ensures that the limited financial resources available are targeted towards householders, particularly those on lower incomes, who incur expenditure directly as a result of the implementation of the Water Services (Amendment) Act 2012.

Full details of the scheme, including eligibility criteria, are set out in the explanatory leaflet and application form published on my Department’s website at:

www.housing.gov.ie/water/water-quality/domestic-waste-water-systemsseptic-tanks/domestic-waste-water-treatment-0.

It is not proposed to make any changes to the grant scheme at this time.

Householders who do not meet the eligibility criteria for the grant under the aforementioned Regulations and who wish to remediate or upgrade their on-site treatment systems may qualify for relief under the Home Renovation Incentive (HRI) Scheme introduced pursuant to Section 5 of the Finance (No. 2) Act 2013. The HRI Scheme covers main residence repairs, renovations and improvements, including the repair or replacement of septic tanks. The Scheme is administered by the Revenue Commissioners and full details are published on the Revenue Commissioner’s website at www.revenue.ie.

Housing Adaptation Grant

 198. Deputy Kevin O'Keeffe Information on Kevin O'Keeffe Zoom on Kevin O'Keeffe asked the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney if he will reverse the conditions for a person to apply for a housing adaptation grant (details supplied). [14796/17]

Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney A full review of the Housing Adaptation Grants for Older People and People with a Disability was carried out in 2014, as a result of which the eligibility for the Housing Aid for Older People was set at age 66, in line with the criteria for old age pensions and other statutory supports for older people. I have no plans to reverse these changes in respect of the Housing Aid for Older People, bearing in mind that the aim of the review was to spread the benefits of the scheme as widely as possible and to ensure fairness and value for money in its operation.

Motor Tax

 199. Deputy Pearse Doherty Information on Pearse Doherty Zoom on Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the estimated cost of abolishing the charge of an excess where a vehicle is taxed for less than 12 months, that is, a vehicle being more expensive when charged for six months as opposed to 12 months. [14890/17]

Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney The information requested is being compiled and will be forwarded to the Deputy in accordance with Standing Orders.

The following deferred reply was received under Standing Order 42A

  Motor tax is payable on an annual, half-yearly or quarterly basis.  The rates applicable for the half-yearly and quarterly options are 55.5% and 28.25% of the annual charge respectively.  These relativities have remained generally consistent since the 1960s.

  Based on the number of transactions in 2016, the annual cost of abolishing the additional charge associated with the half-yearly and quarterly options would be in the order of €55.3 million (€15.2 million for half-yearly discs, €40.1 million for quarterly discs).

 

Motor Tax

 200. Deputy Pearse Doherty Information on Pearse Doherty Zoom on Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the projected savings that would be made if paper motor tax discs were abolished; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14891/17]

Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney As the abolition of the paper motor tax disc is not under consideration at the present time, the potential savings have not been costed in my Department.

  Any replacement of the requirement for the display of discs on vehicle windscreens would need to be considered in the context of the level of application of Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) by An Garda Síochána, in order to ensure that adequate enforcement levels are maintained.

  As you may be aware, the abolition of the motor tax disc took effect in the U.K. from 1 October 2014. In that jurisdiction, a vehicle excise duty evasion survey is carried out on a bi-annual basis. The results of the 2015 survey, the first following the abolition of the disc, found that the rate of unlicensed vehicles observed on the road was much higher than had been observed in the previous survey in 2013, prior to the abolition of the disc. The survey concluded that the increase is probably due to the changes in the vehicle licensing system which took effect from October 2014. Any question of abolishing the disc in Ireland will take note of the longer-term U.K. experience; however, I consider it too early to make a definitive assessment at this time.

  The Cost of Insurance Working Group, chaired by Minister of State at the Department of Finance, Eoghan Murphy, T.D., published a Report on the cost of motor insurance in January of this year. This report is available at: www.finance.gov.ie/what-we-do/banking-financial-services/financial-services-division-2-eu/insurance-policy-and-0.

  The Group considered the issue of the abolition of the paper-based insurance disc as part of its deliberations. The decision of the Working Group was that it was not recommending the phasing out of the paper-based insurance disc at this time. In arriving at its conclusion, the Group noted the experience in the U.K. following the removal of the paper motor tax disc and, in terms of enforcement, set out that Ireland is not yet in a position to underpin an enforcement regime where technology would be the primary method of enforcement. In relation to the use of ANPR, the Group recommended that the phasing out of the paper insurance disc should be reviewed in the future as the development of technology progresses. The continued use of the paper motor tax disc will also be kept under review in that context.

Housing Adaptation Grant Funding

 201. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney when the 2017 funding for housing adaptation grants will be allocated to Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14901/17]

Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney My Department provides funding to local authorities under both the Housing Adaptation Grants for Older People and People with a Disability in relation to private homes, and for adaptations and extensions to social housing stock to meet needs of elderly local authority tenants or those with a disability. Full year allocations for 2017 in respect of both of these schemes will issue shortly to individual local authorities, including Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Council.

Ahead of the notification of these allocations, local authorities have been notified that work in respect of all these programmes can continue with a commitment of up to 65% of their 2016 allocation. This interim funding provision should comfortably allow local authorities to advance the work for the early part of this year, pending the full year allocations issuing.

Local Authority Housing

 202. Deputy Catherine Connolly Information on Catherine Connolly Zoom on Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney if his attention has been drawn to inquiries into alleged inappropriate allocation of city council units in Galway city; if he has been provided with reports arising therefrom; if he has had meetings with management in this regard; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14905/17]

 203. Deputy Catherine Connolly Information on Catherine Connolly Zoom on Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney when the inquiry began relating to the alleged inappropriate allocation of a city council property by a housing official to another housing official in Galway city; if it has been completed; if so, when it was completed; if not, when it will be completed; the outcome of the report and-or the recommendations that have been implemented as a result of the report; the person or body the inquiry was undertaken by; if he will provide a copy of the report once available; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14906/17]

 204. Deputy Catherine Connolly Information on Catherine Connolly Zoom on Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney what other inquiries have been conducted into alleged inappropriate allocation of houses within Galway City Council; when they started; when they were or will be completed; the person or body that is conducting the inquiries; the cost of any and all inquiries; if the reports are or will be available; the outcomes of any inquiries; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14907/17]

Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney I propose to take Questions Nos. 202 to 204, inclusive, together.

The allocation of social housing support is a matter for individual housing authorities in accordance with the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009 and associated regulations. While the 2009 Act provides the Minister with limited powers to issue directions and guidance to authorities as to the performance of their housing functions, Section 6 of the 2009 Act specifically precludes the Minister from intervening in individual housing cases.

Local authorities are independent in performing their functions, as provided for under section 63 of the Local Government Act 2001. The Minister has no role in the normal day-to-day operations of individual local authorities. The Minister's role in respect of local government is primarily to provide the policy, financial and legislative framework within which local authorities perform their functions.

In that context, it is important to note that the Local Government Act 2001, Part 15, includes important provisions in relation to the ethical framework applicable to the local government sector, including providing a statutory basis for a code of conduct that has been issued for all local authority employees. In the ordinary course of events, it would be a matter for the relevant local authority, in the first instance, to investigate any allegations of malpractice regarding the operation of its housing allocation system. Subject to the outcome of any such investigation, it would then be for the local authority to consider what further action, either internally or by way of referring the matter to other relevant appropriate authorities, may be required. However, where the outcome of any such investigation undertaken were to give rise to legislation or policy issues which fall within the remit of my Department, these would of course be considered.

I am aware that Galway City Council undertook an investigation into an improper housing allocation. The Council has advised that the outcome of the investigation was that actions taken in relation to a social housing allocation were outside of the standard protocols and procedures for social housing allocations. In addition to disciplinary action which I understand was taken by the Council, housing allocations procedures have also been reviewed by the Council and a Housing Allocations Group has been established within the Council’s Housing Department to review and agree on social housing allocations before a recommendation is made.

Local Authority Housing Mortgages

 205. Deputy Fergus O'Dowd Information on Fergus O'Dowd Zoom on Fergus O'Dowd asked the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the reason for the refusal of a choice home loan application in respect of a person (details supplied). [14833/17]

Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney I am not in a position to comment on the particular case referred to nor would it be appropriate for me to do so.

An application for a Home Choice Loan is submitted via an authorised mortgage broker to the Home Choice Loan central processing unit for assessment. The Housing Agency then, as the provider of a central underwriting service for local authority housing loan schemes, assesses the loan application. Where the Housing Agency declines a loan application the mortgage broker will be informed by the Home Choice Loan central processing unit as to the reason(s) why.

Departmental Reviews

 206. Deputy Eamon Ryan Information on Eamon Ryan Zoom on Eamon Ryan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the status of the report of the committee to review the reports of the Cork local government committee; and when he expects to know of its recommendations. [14851/17]

Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney I established the Expert Advisory Group on Local Government Arrangements in Cork to advise me regarding relevant options in relation to future local government arrangements for Cork, having regard particularly to the review carried out by the Cork Local Government Review Committee and its report which was submitted in September 2015. The work of the group is continuing, with a report expected in the coming weeks.

Local Authority Housing Provision

 207. Deputy Tony McLoughlin Information on Tony McLoughlin Zoom on Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the total number of local authority houses directly under construction in counties Sligo and Leitrim by the local authorities at present; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14965/17]

Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney A substantial pipeline of new social housing construction projects is already in place both in terms of local authority direct build and approved housing body projects. We are now seeing progress through this pipeline, as is evident in the Social Housing Construction Projects Status Report, which I published on 20 February 2017.

  The report contains a range of information, including projects delivered in 2016 and those at various stages of advancement through planning, design and construction. It also includes information such as local authority area, project name, AHB name where applicable, the number of units and the status of each application in terms of its current level of advancement. The report can be accessed at the following link: http://rebuildingireland.ie/news/social-housing-developments/.

  I expect that a number of the projects listed for Sligo and Leitrim County Councils will be completed in 2017 and others will commence on site during the year, as well as in subsequent years; the precise timing for the advancement of each of these projects is a matter for the Councils, in the first instance.

  Further project approvals are being added to the published list as they are developed by both Sligo and Leitrim County Councils and other local authorities. For example, in February 2017, I approved a 20-house development at Carrick-on-Shannon at an estimated cost of €4m. I am keen that all local authorities advance their social housing projects as speedily as possible and I have assured them that funding is in place to support their activity in this regard.

National Planning Framework

 208. Deputy Tony McLoughlin Information on Tony McLoughlin Zoom on Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney if he is satisfied that the new national planning framework will facilitate the granting of planning permission to the rural population of the entire country, particularly counties Sligo and Leitrim, in keeping with good planning practices and recognising the need to ensure rural revival; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14966/17]

Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney As the Deputy will be aware, the Government is determined that the National Planning Framework should address both rural and urban planning and development matters in an integrated and holistic manner.

Development of the Framework, one of the most strategically important public policy exercises currently underway by the Government, is a collaborative exercise and the success of the Framework will depend on all citizens having their opportunity to shape how Ireland should develop over the next twenty years or more, and how we can plan for and accommodate the substantial additional population expected by 2040 in a more strategic and sustainable way.

The Issues and Choices paper that forms part of the current consultation process recognises the importance of place-making across the country and poses clear questions regarding the potential of rural Ireland. It is now up to the general public, various public bodies and any other interested stakeholders to put forward their views, including in relation to rural development issues, to my Department to inform the next stage of the process in relation to the development of the Framework.

My Department has begun to analyse and assess relevant material submitted, along with preparing other technical analyses in developing the Framework.

The Action Plan for Rural Development published by my colleague, the Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs earlier this year, also needs to be taken into account in developing the Framework, particularly as regards addressing the challenges facing the viability of rural communities including smaller towns and villages that have suffered decline in recent years.

The closing date for submissions to the Ireland 2040: Our Plan process is 31 March and it is my intention to bring a draft Framework to Government by the Summer, for consideration by the Oireachtas later this year.

Local Authority Housing Waiting Lists

 209. Deputy Tony McLoughlin Information on Tony McLoughlin Zoom on Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the total number of persons struck off the local authority housing list for each of the years 2014 to 2016 in counties Sligo and Leitrim; the reason for same; the number of persons currently in emergency accommodation in the counties; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14967/17]

Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney As part of the reporting process for the 2016 Summary of Social Housing Assessments (SSHA), which provided details on the number of households qualified for social housing support as at 21 September 2016, local authorities were requested to provide data on the number of households removed from their lists under this process.

Data submitted by Sligo and Leitrim County Councils in this regard indicate that these authorities removed, respectively, 394 and 248 households from their records of qualified households.

The Councils reported a range of reasons for the removal of households under the 2016 process. Almost three quarters of the  households removed by Sligo County Council were excluded for failing to engage with the Council or a failure to meet all of the eligibility criteria. A similar proportion of the numbers removed by Leitrim County Council were for a failure by households to meet all of the eligibility criteria, households no longer residing in the Council's administrative area or a failure to engage with the Council.

Under the 2016 SSHA process, housing authorities were required to review those households who were on their housing list to ensure that the details of the applicant households are up to date and accurate and that they remain eligible for, and in need of, social housing support in accordance with the criteria set down in the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009 and associated Social Housing Assessment Regulations. As part of this assessment, all local authorities wrote to relevant households during 2016, including those in transitional and shared or emergency accommodation where relevant, informing them of the assessment process and seeking updated information where necessary.

Where a household responded and was found to no longer meet the qualification criteria for social housing support in light of their updated details, they were removed from the list.

In the event of an initial non-response by a household to a request for updated information, guidance issued by the Housing Agency advised housing authorities to contact the household again and to use all reasonable means of communication available to them in contacting the applicant. Authorities were also advised to undertake local advertising campaigns informing households about the Summary. Where a number of attempts to contact a household failed to elicit a response, authorities were advised that it was not unreasonable to then close the household’s application. However, housing authorities were also advised that should the household subsequently respond with the information required within a reasonable time, the application could be re-activated.

Detailed and complete data on the total number of households removed from all housing authority lists as part of the process for the SSHA 2016, and the reasons for such removal, is not yet available. Provisional figures based on replies from 25 of the 31 housing authorities indicate that in excess of 28,000 households were removed from lists as part of the 2016 SSHA process. Once the complete data set is compiled and verified, it will be published on my Department’s website, www.housing.gov.ie.

My Department does not hold information on the number of households that were removed from the lists that may be in emergency accommodation. Monthly homelessness data reports are produced by housing authorities using the Pathway Accommodation & Support System (PASS), the single integrated national data information system on State-funded emergency accommodation arrangements overseen by housing authorities. The data is collated on a regional basis with the counties of Sligo, Leitrim and Donegal comprising the North-West region. My Department collates this information into monthly national homeless reports, which are available on my Department’s website at the following link: www.housing.gov.ie/housing/homelessness/other/homelessness-data.

Local Authority Rates

 210. Deputy Micheál Martin Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the increases in commercial rates that each county and city council has imposed in each area in 2016 and 2017; his views on the impact they are having on small and medium sized businesses; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15042/17]

Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney The levying and collection of rates are matters for each individual local authority.  The annual rate on valuation (ARV), which is applied to the valuation for each property, determined by the Valuation Office, to obtain the amount payable in rates, is decided by the elected members of each local authority in the annual budget and its determination is a reserved function.

  The Annual Rates on Valuation in 2015, 2016 and 2017 and the percentage increases or decreases by local authority between 2015 and 2016 and 2016 and 2017 are set out in the following table.

  My Department has in recent years, in its annual circular to local authorities on budget meetings, requested local authorities to exercise restraint in setting ARVs. Local authorities have kept increases to the ARV to a minimum and the majority have not increased their ARV. The amalgamation of local authorities under the Local Government Reform Act 2014 has also seen both increases and decreases for some ratepayers in some former rating authority areas due to the harmonisation of ARVs under section 29 of the Act.

Local Authority Name2015 ARVPercentage change 2015 to 2016 2016 ARVPercentage change 2016 to 2017 2017 ARV
Carlow County Council 69.56 0.00% 69.56 0.00% 69.56
Cavan County Council 56.85 0.00% 56.85 1.50% 57.70
Clare County Council 72.99 0.00% 72.99 0.00% 72.99
Cork City Council 74.05 0.00% 74.05 1.26% 74.98
Cork County Council 74.75 0.00% 74.75 0.00% 74.75
Donegal County Council 68.39 0.00% 68.39 0.00% 68.39
Dublin City Council 0.2557 0.12% 0.256 0.78% 0.258
Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Council 0.1624 0.00% 0.1624 1.48% 0.1648
Fingal County Council 0.1440 0.00% 0.1440 0.00% 0.1440
Galway City Council 65.46 2.96% 67.40 0.00% 67.40
Galway County Council 66.59 0.00% 66.59 0.00% 66.59
Kerry County Council 79.25 0.00% 79.25 0.00% 79.25
Kildare County Council 68.95 0.00% 68.95 0.00% 68.95
Kilkenny County Council 54.90 0.00% 54.90 0.00% 54.90
Laois County Council 64.63 0.00% 64.63 3.00% 66.57
Leitrim County Council 62.15 0.00% 62.15 0.00% 62.15
Limerick City and County Council 0.2410 2.03% 0.2459 5.00% 0.2582
Longford County Council 65.35 0.00% 65.35 0.00% 65.35
Louth County Council 60.00 0.00% 60.00 0.00% 60.00
Mayo County Council 68.76 0.00% 68.76 0.00% 68.76
Meath County Council 69.63 0.00% 69.625 0.00% 69.625
Monaghan County Council 56.2 0.00% 56.2 0.00% 56.20
Offaly County Council 66.00 0.00% 66.00 0.00% 66.00
Roscommon County Council 71.44 0.00% 71.44 0.00% 71.44
Sligo County Council 66.95 0.00% 66.949 0.00% 66.95
South Dublin County Council 0.1620 0.00% 0.1620 0.00% 0.1620
Tipperary County Council 56.77 0.00% 56.77 0.00% 56.77
Waterford City and County Council 0.2520 0.00% 0.2520 0.00% 0.2520
Westmeath County Council 54.54 0.00% 54.54 0.00% 54.54
Wexford County Council 71.52 0.00% 71.52 0.00% 71.52
Wicklow County Council 72.04 0.00% 72.04 0.00% 72.04

Capital Assistance Scheme Applications

 211. Deputy Gerry Adams Information on Gerry Adams Zoom on Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney if there has been an application to the capital assistance scheme by an approved housing body for the provision of housing for persons with disabilities in Dundalk, County Louth; and if so, the progress of this application. [15055/17]

Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney Louth County Council submitted an initial capital appraisal for this project to my Department in February 2017 for funding under the Capital Assistance Scheme. However to allow for a full and complete assessment of the project to be undertaken additional information was required including a feasibility study. Louth County Council are currently preparing this material and have advised that this will be submitted shortly. This will then allow for a full assessment of the project to be undertaken and my Department will complete this without delay.

Capital Assistance Scheme Funding

 212. Deputy Gerry Adams Information on Gerry Adams Zoom on Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the amount of funding which has been accessed each year for the past five years through the capital assistance scheme for the provision of housing for persons with disabilities. [15056/17]

Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney Total expenditure under my Department's Capital Assistance Scheme (CAS) over the past five years was as follows:

2012

€M
2013

€M
2014

€M
2015

€M
2016

€M
58.036.734.338.037.0


  Under CAS, funding of up to 100% of project costs may be advanced by local authorities to Approved Housing Bodies to provide accommodation for the elderly, homeless and people with disabilities. The scheme is administered by the local authorities and my Department does not have details of the funding specifically advanced for each separate category.

Protected Disclosures

 213. Deputy John McGuinness Information on John McGuinness Zoom on John McGuinness asked the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney if the report requested by him on 8 March 2017 from a person (details supplied) has as yet been received by his Department; the status of a protected disclosure dated 20 June 2016 made by this person to him; if he will expedite a response to the person and issue payment of amounts due to them; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15067/17]

Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney The submission received with reference to the Protected Disclosures Act 2014 in question continues to be considered in my Department. When I receive allegations (whether described as disclosures or not) which may be relevant to the functions of my Department, I must first consider what further steps (if any) may be necessary. In this regard, having taken legal advice on the matter, my Department made contact with the Chief Executive of the relevant local authority, informing him of the allegations and sought confirmation as to what steps have been taken in relation to same.

A letter of acknowledgement has been received from the Chief Executive following the Department's request. This confirmed that the matter is receiving immediate attention but advised that, given the nature and extent of the information requested, an initial estimate of the timeframe for response is a minimum of 12 weeks.

In relation to the application for compensation which is a focus of the submission, it should be noted that there are very specific statutory provisions in the Protected Disclosures Act 2014 in relation to compensation arising from penalisation suffered by an employee as a consequence of making a disclosure. As Minister, I have no statutory function under the Act in relation to awarding compensation. My Department has also issued a letter of update to the individual concerned in relation to the submission.

Protected Disclosures Data

 214. Deputy John McGuinness Information on John McGuinness Zoom on John McGuinness asked the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the process within his Department for the dealing with protected disclosures under the 2014 Act; if the examinations of such disclosures are carried out by an independent authority or persons other than those within the organisation to which the disclosure refers; the number of disclosures received by his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15074/17]

Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney My Department’s Protected Disclosure Policy, which sets out the general process followed when a confirmed protected disclosure is received, is available online at: www.housing.gov.ie/sites/default/files/migrated-files/en/Publications/CorporateServices/ProtectedDisclosures/FileDownLoad%2C43451%2Cen.pdf.

  Employees can report a concern under this policy via internal channels, or they may seek to make their disclosure through alternative, external channels as detailed in the policy. All disclosures, whether reported through internal or external channels, are carefully examined, informed by the provisions of the Protected Disclosures Act 2014.

  Under section 22 of the Act, my Department is required to publish an annual report setting out the number of protected disclosures received in the preceding year (if any) and the action taken. No protected disclosures were received in the Department from 15 July to 31 December 2014, the first period of operation of the Act. The 2014 report is available here: www.housing.gov.ie/sites/default/files/migrated-files/en/Publications/CorporateServices/ProtectedDisclosures/FileDownLoad%2C43482%2Cen.pdf.

  In the period covered by the report for the period 1 January 2015 to 31 December 2015, one protected disclosure was received from a worker in a body in relation to which I have legislative functions. A nominated official in the Department completed an examination of the matter and followed up with the relevant parties as necessary. No protected disclosures were received from workers of the Department in the period covered by this report, which is available at the following link - www.housing.gov.ie/sites/default/files/publications/files/dhpclg_section_22_protected_disclosures_act_annual_report_2015.pdf.


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