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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 240-260
 Header Item Jobseeker's Benefit Appeals
 Header Item Social Welfare Benefits Waiting Times
 Header Item Farm Assist Scheme Payments
 Header Item Rental Sector Strategy
 Header Item Homelessness Strategy
 Header Item EU Directives
 Header Item Social and Affordable Housing Eligibility
 Header Item Homeless Persons Supports
 Header Item Irish Language
 Header Item Election Management System
 Header Item Local Government Fund
 Header Item Local Authority Funding
 Header Item Local Authority Housing Eligibility
 Header Item Home Loan Scheme
 Header Item Housing Adaptation Grant Funding
 Header Item Home Loan Scheme
 Header Item Planning Issues
 Header Item Homeless Persons Supports

Wednesday, 20 February 2019

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 979 No. 6

First Page Previous Page Page of 86 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 240-260

Jobseeker's Benefit Appeals

 240. Deputy Eamon Scanlon Information on Eamon Scanlon Zoom on Eamon Scanlon asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty the status of a jobseeker's benefit appeal by a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8739/19]

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that the appeal from the person concerned was referred to an Appeals Officer who has decided to hold an oral hearing in this case on 26th February 2019. The person concerned has been notified of the arrangements for the hearing.

  The Social Welfare Appeals Office functions independently of the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection and of the Department and is responsible for determining appeals against decisions in relation to social welfare entitlements.

  I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Social Welfare Benefits Waiting Times

 241. Deputy Fiona O'Loughlin Information on Fiona O'Loughlin Zoom on Fiona O'Loughlin asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty if measures are being put in place to reduce long waiting times for applications to be processed within her Department. [8741/19]

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty My Department is committed to providing a quality service to all its customers. This includes ensuring that applications are processed as quickly as possible.

  Where any scheme area experiences delays, all possible steps are taken to improve processing times. This includes the assignment of additional resources, where available, and the review of business processes, to ensure the efficient processing of applications.

  In general, social welfare schemes with a number of complex qualifying conditions can take longer to process. One such example is the carer's allowance scheme.

  To qualify for carer's allowance, the carer must show that they are habitually resident in the State, that they are providing full-time care and attention to a person who requires this level of care and that their means are less than the statutory limit.

  On average in January, it took 16 weeks to award a new carer's allowance application.

  While the average processing time is still higher than it should be, the re-assignment of staff from other areas of the Longford Centralised Schemes Office to claims processing in October has resulted in a significant reduction in the number of claims awaiting decision and I expect the average processing time to reduce over the coming months.

  I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Farm Assist Scheme Payments

 242. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae Information on Michael Healy-Rae Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty if a farm assist payment was calculated on a weekly wage in the case of a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8747/19]

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty The person concerned has been in receipt of Farm Assist since April 2017. Means for Farm Assist was reassessed from 23 January 2019 as the person concerned commenced insurable employment. As per payslip dated 08 February 2019 his gross earnings per fortnight are €1,069.08, PRSI deduction is €47.22. Means from his insurable employment have been assessed at €270.56 per week.

  His spouse is employed 1 day per week, with earnings of €68.25 and means have been assessed from this employment at €28.95 per week.

  Means have been assessed from his farm income at €6.20. He is currently in receipt of full Qualified Adult Allowance for his spouse as she is in receipt of ½ rate Carers Allowance. The person concerned has been advised that his spouse should apply for full rate Carers Allowance.

  Total weekly means is assessed at €306.00

  His weekly Farm Assist Payment from 23 January 2019 is €23.40 + Fuel Allowance of €22.50.

  His Farm Assist claim has been sent for review to the Social Welfare Inspector on 14/02/2019.

   I trust this clarifies the matter.

Rental Sector Strategy

 243. Deputy John Curran Information on John Curran Zoom on John Curran asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy the steps he is taking and the progress made in developing an off-balance sheet cost rental accommodation scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7151/19]

Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government (Deputy Eoghan Murphy): Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy Acknowledging that renters in Dublin and other major urban centres are currently facing significant access and affordability challenges, the Government is committed to the introduction of a not-for-profit, cost rental sector in Ireland. Together with delivering more affordable and predictable rents, cost rental can make a sustainable impact on national competitiveness and the attractiveness of our main urban centres as places to live and work.

To support the introduction of affordable housing, including cost rental, the Government has made €310m available to local authorities to fund facilitating infrastructure, under the Serviced Sites Fund, over the next three years.

Two path-finder cost rental projects are currently being progressed. Firstly, the Housing Agency, Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council and two Approved Housing Bodies are working on a project at the Enniskerry Road, Dublin, which will deliver 50 cost rental homes. The second project, at St. Michael’s Estate, Emmet Road in Inchicore can deliver up to 330 cost rental homes. It is expected that the tender for the Enniskerry Road project will be awarded and the Urban Design Development Framework Plan for St. Michaels will be completed, later in Quarter 1, 2019.

My Department is also working with the European Investment Bank to leverage its advisory and research capacity so that broader international lessons on the operation of cost rental can inform Ireland's approach. In addition, the Land Development Agency is examining the potential to deliver cost rental homes at scale from its land portfolio and the broader State land-bank.

Homelessness Strategy

 244. Deputy Catherine Connolly Information on Catherine Connolly Zoom on Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy the steps being taken to address and eliminate child homelessness; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7143/19]

Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government (Deputy Eoghan Murphy): Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy The latest Homeless Report published by my Department, for December 2018, showed that there were 1,617 families, with 3,559 associated dependants, accessing emergency accommodation.

Rebuilding Ireland, the Government’s Action Plan on Housing and Homelessness, is designed to increase the delivery of housing across all tenures to help individuals and families meet their housing needs. The plan focuses on increasing the delivery of social housing, with a target of delivering 50,000 social housing homes in the period to 2021, while also making the best use of existing stock and laying the foundations for a more vibrant housing sector.

The Government is committed to ensuring that families experiencing homelessness receive the best possible supports until they can secure a home. In this regard, Budget 2019 provided an allocation of €146m, an increase of over 25% on the 2018 allocation, for the provision of homeless services by local authorities. Families experiencing homelessness are supported by the local authorities and their service delivery partners to exit homelessness into an independent tenancy, whether it be in a local authority property or a HAP supported tenancy in the private rental sector. In 2018, the HAP Placefinder service was made available to all local authorities to support households to identify and secure a tenancy in the private rented sector. My Department has approved funding for 22 Placefinder officers nationally.

In 2018, my Department provided €48.5m in capital funding to the local authorities for the provision of emergency accommodation. This funding has facilitated the provision of family hubs to provide appropriate accommodation for families experiencing homelessness. Family hubs provide a greater level of stability than is possible in hotel accommodation, with the capacity to provide cooking and laundry facilities and recreation space. Crucially, families transition more quickly through hubs and into tenancies than is the case in other types of emergency accommodation. This is as a result of the more intensive engagement with local services that is possible in hubs, including engagement with the HAP Placefinder service. My Department is working with the local authorities on the delivery of further family hubs in 2019.

  Question No. 245 answered with Question No. 75.

EU Directives

 246. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin Information on Eoin Ó Broin Zoom on Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy the details of the recently initiated infringement proceedings by the EU Commission against Ireland for breaches of the water framework directive; the nature of the infringements; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8525/19]

Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government (Deputy Eoghan Murphy): Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy An additional letter of formal notice from the European Commission relating to Infringement 2007/2238, which deals with Ireland's transposition of the Water Framework Directive, was received by my Department on 24 January 2019.

  The letter outlines areas in which Ireland is alleged to have incorrectly or not fully transposed the Directive. The key elements of the Directive which, it is alleged, have been incorrectly or inadequately transposed by Ireland include the following:

  - Article 2(28), the definition of "water services"

  - Article 7(3) dealing with the protection of drinking water sources

  - Article 11(3)(e) dealing with the control of abstractions and impoundments of water

  - Article 11(5), dealing with the monitoring of water quality and the investigation of quality failures

  - Article 11(6), dealing with the potential impact on marine waters of measures taken under the Directive

  - Articles 11(7), 11(8) and 13(7) which set out key operational and review dates.

  The letter also alleges potential gaps in transposition of the annexes to the Directive and in some definitional transpositions, as well as a number of possible interpretative misalignments.

  In relation to Article 9(1), dealing with the recovery of costs for water services, the letter notes that responses received from Ireland are under consideration by the Commission and that the Commission will at this stage not follow up on transposition of this sub-article but that this is without prejudice to future follow up on the matter.

  The Commission has sought a response within two months of receipt of the letter. However, given the extent and detail of the questions raised, my Department has requested a two-month extension, to 24 May 2019, in order to provide a full response to all the questions raised.

Social and Affordable Housing Eligibility

 247. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin Information on Eoin Ó Broin Zoom on Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy if he is considering or has decided to suspend the social housing applicant file for five years for persons who have refused two offers of accommodation; and if so, the basis on which this decision was made. [8548/19]

Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government (Deputy Eoghan Murphy): Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy The current position in relation to the refusal by households of offers of social housing dwellings is set down in Regulation 12 of the Social Housing Allocation Regulations 2011, made under section 22 of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009.

Under Regulation 12, a household that refuses two reasonable offers of such tenancies in any twelve-month period, other than an offer made under the Choice Based Letting (CBL) procedure, will not receive any further offers from any local authority for a period of one year from the date of the second refusal. An offer is deemed to be reasonable where the dwelling concerned would, in the opinion of the authority, meet the housing needs of the household and, except in an emergency, is located in an area of choice specified by the household.

My Department regularly engages with the local authority sector on this and other social housing policy matters. The refusal of offers can have a serious impact on the administrative process in local authorities and can prolong the period for re-letting of homes, lead to a loss of revenue through non-rental and is ultimately an inefficient use of the social housing stock, as well as local authority resources.

For these reasons, it is my intention to amend the regulations to provide that a household that refuses two reasonable offers in any twelve-month period, other than an offer made under the CBL procedure, will not receive any further offers from any local authority for a period of five years. The latter period is not subsequently reckonable for the purposes of determining the household’s relative priority for another social housing tenancy.

Homeless Persons Supports

 248. Deputy Thomas Pringle Information on Thomas Pringle Zoom on Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy if his attention has been drawn to the inconsistent use of the PASS system by different local authorities nationally when registering a person as homeless; his plans to regulate the managing of the PASS system to ensure the accurate recording of homelessness; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8582/19]

Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government (Deputy Eoghan Murphy): Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy My Department’s role in relation to homelessness involves the provision of a national framework of policy, legislation and funding to underpin the role of housing authorities in addressing homelessness at local level. Statutory responsibility in relation to the provision of accommodation and associated services for homeless persons rests with individual housing authorities.

The Pathway Accommodation & Support System (PASS) is an online, shared system utilised by the local authorities and other contracted service providers to manage bookings in State-funded emergency accommodation, operated and overseen by the local authorities. My Department has no function in the operation of the PASS system.

Irish Language

 249. Deputy Catherine Murphy Information on Catherine Murphy Zoom on Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy the progress made on implementing all aspects of the 20-Year Strategy for the Irish Language 2010 - 2030 that are relevant to his Department and bodies under his remit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8623/19]

Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government (Deputy Eoghan Murphy): Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy As set out in the National Planning Framework (NPF), published in 2018, the language planning process, as prescribed in the Gaeltacht Act 2012, represents the primary driver in support of the Government’s commitment to the achievement of the objectives set out in the 20 Year Strategy for the Irish Language 2010 to 2030. Objective 29 of the NPF makes provision for supporting the implementation of language plans in Gaeltacht Language Planning Areas, Gaeltacht Service Towns and Irish Language Networks.

  My Department has also produced planning guidelines, ‘Development Plans, Guidelines for Planning Authorities’, to address the mandatory objective of the Planning & Development Act for “the protection of the linguistic and cultural heritage of the Gaeltacht, including the promotion of Irish as the community language, where there is a Gaeltacht in the area of the development plan”. These guidelines refer to areas such as linguistic and cultural heritage, the needs of the community in land-use terms for housing, community facilities, employment, tourism and design, including advertising and signage. By way of example, the Galway County Development Plan 2015-21 incorporated a variation to include a specific Gaeltacht area plan.

  In June of last year, the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht published an Action Plan 2018-2022, which aims to accelerate the achievement of the objectives set out in the 20-Year Strategy. The Action Plan is aligned with the objectives of the Strategy and also with relevant Government policies and programmes such as Project Ireland 2040 which encompasses the NPF.

  Finally, in line with the Gaeltacht Act 2012, my Department continues to support staffing sanction requests from local authorities for bilingual officers.

  Arrangements have been put in place by each agency under the aegis of my Department to facilitate the provision of information directly to members of the Oireachtas. The contact email addresses for each agency are set out as follows:

Agency
Email address
An Bord Pleanála Oireachtasqueries@pleanala.ie
Ervia, Gas Networks Ireland oireachtas@ervia.ie
Housing Sustainable Communities Agency publicreps@housingagency.ie
Housing Finance Agency oireachtas.enquiries@hfa.ie
Irish Water oireachtasmembers@water.ie
Local Government Management Agency corporate@lgma.ie
Ordnance Survey Ireland Oireachtas@osi.ie
Property Registration Authority reps@prai.ie
Pyrite Resolution Board oireachtasinfo@pyriteboard.ie
Residential Tenancies Board OireachtasMembersQueries@rtb.ie
Valuation Office oireachtas.enquiries@VALOFF.ie

Election Management System

 250. Deputy Catherine Murphy Information on Catherine Murphy Zoom on Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy if all persons voting will be required to subscribe to and-or be in possession of a public services card in the context of proposals to modernise the electoral registration process; if persons will have to consent to data sharing between Departments and-or local authorities in order to vote; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8641/19]

Minister of State at the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government (Deputy John Paul Phelan): Information on John Paul Phelan Zoom on John Paul Phelan In March 2017 the Government determined that work should commence on modernisation of the voter registration process. In addition to meeting the objective to modernise the registration process generally, the Government was also cognisant of the possible need to register voters resident outside the State in the event that a referendum on extending the franchise in Presidential elections is passed.

  The modernisation project will include consideration of wider policy and legislative changes. There will be an initial focus on a series of proposals including those made by the Joint Committee on Environment, Culture and the Gaeltacht in its report on the consultation it carried out on the proposed Electoral Commission in 2016. The proposals currently under consideration include an optional online registration process in parallel with the existing paper based system; the creation of a unique identifier for individuals; proportionate and limited data sharing between public bodies, essentially to improve the accuracy and timeliness of changes to the register information, e.g. in respect of those who are deceased. It is not envisaged that individuals will require a public services card (PSC) to engage in the registration process; however, if an individual wishes to engage through an optional online registration system, there will, of course be requirements in terms of identity verification and the PSC may be selected to meet requirements in this respect.

  Conscious of the importance of the register and its role in our democracy and the need to ensure security and integrity are key priorities for any changes being considered, significant consultation is planned to engage all stakeholders, including registration authorities, the political system at all levels and the public.

  An initial technical consultation with franchise teams in local authorities was completed in September 2018 and the constructive inputs received informed the further development of proposals which have now been put to a public consultation which is due to end March 15 this year. This consultation will offer an opportunity to all relevant stakeholders and the public to contribute. Details of the consultation are available on my Department's website at the following link: https://www.housing.gov.ie/public-consultation-proposals-modernise-electoral-registration-process.

Local Government Fund

 251. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin Information on Eoin Ó Broin Zoom on Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy the level of funding within the Local Government Fund in each of the years 1999 to 2018, in tabular form; and the details of each component of the funding in gross and percentage terms. [8650/19]

 252. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin Information on Eoin Ó Broin Zoom on Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy the level of funding to the Local Government Fund in each of the years 1999 to 2018, in tabular form; and the details of gross increases or decreases in funding and the real terms percentage expression of year-on-year increase and decrease. [8651/19]

Minister of State at the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government (Deputy John Paul Phelan): Information on John Paul Phelan Zoom on John Paul Phelan I propose to take Questions Nos. 251 and 252 together.

  The information sought is set out in the following table..

  The Local Government Fund is audited by the Office of the Comptroller and Auditor General each year. The audited accounts of the Local Government Fund 2003-2017 are published on my Department's website at the following link;

   https://www.housing.gov.ie/search/archived/archived/archived/current/type/publications?query=Local%20Government%20Fund%20Accounts.

Funding Provided 1999

€m
2000

€m
2001

€m
2002

€m
2003

€m
2004

€m
2005

€m
2006

€m
2007

€m
2008

€m
Motor Tax (net) 453.5 465.0 511.8 539.5 678.7 745.1 800.0 878.3 957.1 1,055.3
Exchequer Contribution  342.8 400.0 475.2 419.6 451.1 465.7 500.6 532.6 537.1 548.7
Household Charge 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0
Local Property Tax 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0
Interest/Other 0.7 2.0 1.9 1.6 2.0 1.9 2.3 3.5 5.4 6.7
Total 797.0 867.0 988.9 960.7 1,131.8 1,212.7 1,302.9 1,414.4 1,499.6 1,610.7


  Table cntd.
Funding Provided 2009

€m
2010

€m
2011

€m
2012

€m
2013

€m
2014

€m
2015

€m
2016

€m
2017

€m
2018

€m*
2019

€m**
Motor Tax (net) 1,056.3 1,021.4 1,011.6 1,052.8 1,135.5 1,157.6 1,122.0 1,049.9 1,019.9 0.0 0.0
Exchequer Contribution  443.0 241.4 175.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 241.1 396.6 365.3 124.8 185.0
Household Charge 0.0 0.0 0.0 113.9 23.1 0.2 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0
Local Property Tax 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 491.4 469.2 463.4 476.5 470.0 470.0
Interest/Other 1.4 1.0 2.8 0.6 0.2 0.4 0.2 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0
Total 1,500.7 1,263.8 1,189.4 1,167.3 1,158.8 1,649.5 1,832.5 1,909.9 1,861.7 594.8 655.0


Funding Provided 1999 % 2000 % 2001 % 2002 % 2003 % 2004 % 2005 % 2006 % 2007 % 2008 %
Motor Tax (net) 56.9 53.6 51.8 56.2 60.0 61.4 61.4 62.1 63.8 65.5
Exchequer Contribution  43.0 46.1 48.1 43.7 39.9 38.4 38.4 37.7 35.8 34.1
Household Charge 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0
Local Property Tax 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0
Interest/Other 0.1 0.2 0.2 0.2 0.2 0.2 0.2 0.2 0.4 0.4
Total 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0


  Table cntd.
Funding Provided 2009 % 2010 % 2011 % 2012 % 2013 % 2014 % 2015 % 2016 % 2017 % 2018 %* 2019 %**
Motor Tax (net) 70.4 80.8 85.1 90.2 98.0 70.2 61.2 55.0 54.8 0.0 0.0
Exchequer Contribution  29.5 19.1 14.7 0.0 0.0 0.0 13.2 20.8 19.6 21.0 28.2
Household Charge 0.0 0.0 0.0 9.8 2.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0
Local Property Tax 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 29.8 25.6 24.3 25.6 79.0 71.8
Interest/Other 0.1 0.1 0.2 0.1 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0
Total 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0
  *Accounts not yet finalised.

  **Estimates for 2019

Local Authority Funding

 253. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin Information on Eoin Ó Broin Zoom on Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy the funding provided to local government by funding from the Local Government Fund, commercial rates and other sources of funding in both gross and percentage terms. [8652/19]

Minister of State at the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government (Deputy John Paul Phelan): Information on John Paul Phelan Zoom on John Paul Phelan In 2017, the most recent year for which audited accounts are available, sources of revenue (current) funding to local authorities were as follows:

Table of Revenue Income 2017

Revenue account 2017
Income €4.515bn
   
Revenue Income sources € 2017
Goods & Services €1.290bn
Commercial rates €1.476bn
Income from Grants and subsidies €1.251bn
Contributions from other authorities €105m
LPT €393m
Total €4.515bn
   
Revenue Income sources % 2017
Goods & Services 28%
Commercial rates 33%
Income from Grants and Subsidies 28%
Contributions from other authorities 2%
Local Property Tax allocations (via the Local Government Fund)* 9%
*Local Property Tax receipts are paid into the Local Government Fund and from there, allocated to local authorities.

Local Authority Housing Eligibility

 254. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy if and when income eligibility limits will be revised to address the issues experienced by applicants for local authority housing who find themselves ineligible for a Rebuilding Ireland home loan on the grounds of insufficient income and equally ineligible for inclusion on local authority housing waiting lists due to excessive income; if the matter will be examined with a view to resolution; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8706/19]

Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government (Deputy Eoghan Murphy): Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy The Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan is designed to enable credit-worthy first-time buyers to access sustainable mortgage lending to purchase new or second-hand properties in a suitable price range. The scheme is targeted at first-time buyers who have access to an adequate deposit and have the capacity to repay a mortgage, but who are unable to access a mortgage, from a commercial lender, sufficient for them to purchase their first home.

  Single applicants for the loan must not be earning greater than €50,000 gross per annum. The combined income of joint applicants must not be greater than €75,000 per annum. This is to ensure the effective targeting of limited resources. There are no set minimum income limits; however, applicants need to demonstrate that they have sufficient borrowing and repayment capacity and must be capable of repaying the mortgage in accordance with the statutory credit policy underpinning the loan. These income limits are unchanged from the previous local authority loan offerings. I have no plans to review them at present.

  To support prudential lending and consistency of treatment for borrowers, a Loan to Value ratio of 90% applies to the Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan as per the Central Bank's prudential lending guidelines. Therefore, in order to avail of the loan, applicants must have a deposit equivalent to 10% of the market value of the property.

  Full details of the loan's eligibility criteria and other information are available on the dedicated Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan website: http://rebuildingirelandhomeloan.ie/. Any person who meets the eligibility criteria may apply for a loan regardless of whether or not they are on the local authority housing list or qualified for social housing support.

  In relation to income eligibility criteria for local authority housing, the Social Housing Assessment Regulations 2011 prescribe maximum net income limits for each local authority, in different bands according to the area concerned, with income being defined and assessed according to a standard Household Means Policy. The income bands and the authority area assigned to each band are based on an assessment of the income needed to provide for a household's basic needs, plus a comparative analysis of the local rental cost of housing accommodation across the country. As part of the broader social housing reform agenda, a review of income eligibility for social housing supports in each local authority area is currently underway. The Housing Agency is continuing to carry out the detailed statistical work, which will underpin this review, on behalf of my Department.

  The review will also have regard to current initiatives being brought forward in terms of affordability and cost rental and will be completed when the impact of these parallel initiatives have been considered.

Home Loan Scheme

 255. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy the number of Rebuilding Ireland home loan applications received to date by county; the number approved, refused or pending; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8707/19]

Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government (Deputy Eoghan Murphy): Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy As with the previous local authority home loan offerings, loan applications under the Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan are made directly to the local authority in whose area the property proposed for purchase is situated. My Department does not directly collect information on the number of enquiries to local authorities regarding the loan or the number of loan applications received by local authorities.

  The Housing Agency provides a central support service which assesses valid loan applications that are made to the local authorities and makes recommendations to the authorities as to whether loans should be offered to applicants.

  I asked the Agency to compile figures on its processing of applications and the most recent figures, as at the end of January 2019, indicate that the Agency had underwritten 3,258 applications since the scheme began. Of these, 1,660 were recommended for approval. The data provided does not include figures on the number of pending applications.

  A breakdown by county of the approvals and refusals is in the following table.

RIHL approvals and refusals to end Jan 2019

Local authority
Applications Underwritten
Recommended to Approve
Recommended to Decline
Carlow County Council 48 17 (35%) 31 (65%)
Cavan County Council 18 8 (44%) 10 (56%)
Clare County Council 54 19 (35%) 35 (65%)
Cork City Council 112 56 (50%) 56 (50%)
Cork County Council 262 145 (55%) 117 (45%)
Donegal County Council 31 19 (61%) 12 (39%)
Dublin City Council 375 230 (61%) 145 (39%)
Dún Laoghaire - Rathdown County Council 87 47 (54%) 40 (46%)
Fingal County Council 470 249 (53%) 221 (47%)
Galway City Council 69 31 (45%) 38 (55%)
Galway County Council 117 44 (38%) 73 (62%)
Kerry County Council 95 41 (43%) 54 (57%)
Kildare County Council 173 87 (50%) 86 (50%)
Kilkenny County Council 28 15 (54%) 13 (46%)
Laois County Council 75 39 (52%) 36 (48%)
Leitrim County Council 10 3 (30%) 7 (70%)
Limerick City & County Council 87 49 (56%) 38 (44%)
Longford County Council 32 16 (50%) 16 (50%)
Louth County Council 81 34 (42%) 47 (58%)
Mayo County Council 49 18 (37%) 31 (63%)
Meath County Council 213 133 (62%) 80 (38%)
Monaghan County Council 23 8 (35%) 15 (65%)
Offaly County Council 43 15 (35%) 28 (65%)
Roscommon County Council 29 13 (45%) 16 (55%)
Sligo County Council 42 20 (48%) 22 (52%)
South Dublin County Council 233 122 (52%) 111 (48%)
Tipperary County Council 87 31 (36%) 56 (64%)
Waterford City & County Council 50 15 (30%) 35 (70%)
Westmeath County Council 27 17 (63%) 10 (37%)
Wexford County Council 94 50 (53%) 44 (47%)
Wicklow County Council 144 69 (48%) 75 (52%)
Total 3,258 1,660 (51%) 1598 (49%)


  Each local authority must have in place a credit committee and it is a matter for the committee to make the decision on applications for loans, in accordance with the regulations, having regard to the recommendations made by the Housing Agency.

Housing Adaptation Grant Funding

 256. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy if and when extra resources will be allocated to Kildare County Council to meet the requirements of the disabled persons grant scheme and housing adaptation grants; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8708/19]

Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government (Deputy Eoghan Murphy): Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy 2019 funding allocations for both the Housing Adaptation Grants for Older People and People with a Disability, which relate to private housing, and the Disabled Persons Grants scheme, which relate to local authority stock, will be issued shortly to all local authorities in respect of 2019. Ahead of these allocations, local authorities can proceed with works under both schemes, so no delay should arise in delivering the services involved.

For the Housing Adaptation Grants for Older People and People with a Disability, the available funding is being increased to €71.25 million this year, an 8% increase over 2018 funding. For the Disabled Persons Grants scheme, all local authorities have been asked to set out their requirements for 2019, following which funding allocations will be made.

Home Loan Scheme

 257. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy when extra funding will be allocated to the various local authorities to ensure the continuation of Rebuilding Ireland home loans; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8709/19]

 267. Deputy Fiona O'Loughlin Information on Fiona O'Loughlin Zoom on Fiona O'Loughlin asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy when further funding will be allocated for applications for the Rebuilding Ireland home loan; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8742/19]

Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government (Deputy Eoghan Murphy): Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy I propose to take Questions Nos. 257 and 267 together.

The Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan launched on 1 February 2018. Prior to its launch, an initial tranche of €200 million of long-term fixed-rate finance was borrowed by the Housing Finance Agency to provide funds for the scheme to local authorities.

When the Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan was initially being developed it was estimated that the drawdown of loans under the scheme would be approximately €200 million over three years. From the data collated on the scheme to date, the RIHL has proven to be more successful than initially anticipated, as a result of which, the scheme would require a further tranche of funds to be borrowed by the HFA in order to enable its continuation.

My Department is currently in discussions with the Departments of Public Expenditure and Reform and Finance with regard to an extension of the scheme in this regard. When these discussions are concluded I will be in a position to make an announcement on the matter.

Planning Issues

 258. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy the progress to date towards the reactivation of development at Naas Town Centre, Naas, County Kildare; if all outstanding issues in respect of way leaves and rights of way have been resolved; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8711/19]

Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government (Deputy Eoghan Murphy): Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy As indicated in my previous replies to Questions on this matter, the management of the stalled Naas Town Centre development is a matter for Kildare County Council in the first instance and is one in which I do not have any function.

Homeless Persons Supports

 259. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy the extent to which emergency local authority housing provision has been made in respect of each local authority with particular reference to those most affected by homelessness; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8712/19]

 260. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy the steps still to be taken to accommodate persons who find themselves homeless through no fault of their own while in some cases suffering from ill health; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8713/19]

 265. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy the number of families rehoused by Kildare County Council in each of the past four years to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8718/19]

Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government (Deputy Eoghan Murphy): Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy I propose to take Questions Nos. 259, 260 and 265 together.

  Resolving homelessness is an absolute priority for this Government. Budget 2019 provided an allocation of €146m, an increase of over 25% on the 2018 allocation, for the provision of homeless services by the local authorities. This funding will ensure that the local authorities can provide the best possible supports to those individuals and families experiencing homelessness, until they can be supported to move to a home.

  Statutory responsibility in relation to the provision of accommodation and associated services for homeless persons rests with individual housing authorities. In 2018, my Department provided €48.5m in capital funding to local authorities for the provision of emergency accommodation. This included the provision of emergency accommodation for rough sleepers and additional family hubs to provide a more appropriate form of emergency accommodation for families experiencing homelessness.

  The local authorities and their service delivery partners provide supports to all households experiencing homelessness to identify and secure an independent tenancy. In respect of those with health needs, the local authorities work closely with the HSE on the provision of emergency accommodation and related services. In September 2018, the Government published the National Implementation Plan for Housing First. Housing First provides supported tenancies for homeless individuals with complex needs by providing extensive housing and health supports. The Implementation Plan set a target for 663 tenancies to be created nationally in the three-year period to 2021 and my Department is working closely with the local authorities on the implementation of the Plan.

  The exits from homelessness to independent tenancies are recorded in the quarterly performance reports submitted to my Department by each of the nine administrative regions for the delivery of homeless services. Kildare County Council is the lead authority for the Mid-East Region, which also includes Meath County Council and Wicklow County Council. The exits from homelessness for the Mid East Region from 2015 to 2018 (to end Q3) are set out in the following table.

Exits from Homelessness - Mid East Region

2015 2016 2017 2018 (to end Q3)
141 135 150 116


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