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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 197-216
 Header Item Community Employment Schemes Supervisors
 Header Item European Labour Authority
 Header Item Invalidity Pension Applications
 Header Item Social Insurance
 Header Item Job Initiatives
 Header Item Domiciliary Care Allowance Review
 Header Item Departmental Contracts Data
 Header Item Youth Unemployment
 Header Item Family Law Cases
 Header Item Social Welfare Benefits Eligibility
 Header Item Housing Assistance Payment
 Header Item Public Sector Staff Recruitment
 Header Item Defined Benefit Pension Schemes
 Header Item Social and Affordable Housing
 Header Item Foreshore Licence Conditions
 Header Item Wind Energy Guidelines
 Header Item Planning Issues
 Header Item Rental Sector Strategy
 Header Item Traveller Accommodation

Thursday, 11 April 2019

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 981 No. 8

First Page Previous Page Page of 60 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 197-216

Community Employment Schemes Supervisors

 197. Deputy Róisín Shortall Information on Róisín Shortall Zoom on Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty the steps she is taking to address the fact that community employment scheme supervisors have not received a pay rise in over ten years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17015/19]

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty CE scheme supervisors are employees of private companies in the community and voluntary sector that receive public funding.  They are not employees of my Department or public servants.

  The current agreement for public servants is an agreed approach to the continued unwinding of the FEMPI legislation and does not provide for a pay increase.  

  The Deputy should note that, in the past, CE supervisors benefitted from pay increases linked to all phases of Benchmarking, Sustaining Progress (Parts 1 and 2) and Towards 2016 (all 4 phases).  They were not subject to any pay reductions under the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (FEMPI).

European Labour Authority

 198. Deputy Brendan Howlin Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty her plans to seek the location of the new European labour authority here; the resources that will be committed to the campaign to achieve same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17026/19]

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty In February, the European Commission, the European Parliament and the Council reached a provisional agreement on the Commission's proposal to establish a European Labour Authority (ELA).  The ELA, will amongst other things, support Member States in providing information and services to citizens and business and facilitate cooperation and exchange of information between Member States, and support them through concerted and joint inspections in order to fight abuse, fraud and undeclared work.

  This is a very important initiative with now only the location of the seat remaining to be decided.      

  Amongst the selection criteria is the number of agencies which already have their seat in the applicant Member State, the intention being that those with no such agencies would be preferred.  In addition, priority will be given to Member States which acceded to the EU in or after 2004.       

  In light of this prioritisation of newer Member States and the fact that Ireland already hosts the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions (Eurofound) the Government is not submitting a bid to host the seat of this organisation.

  The location of the seat will be decided by a vote at the Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council (EPSCO) meeting which I will attend in Luxembourg on 13 June.

Invalidity Pension Applications

 199. Deputy Robert Troy Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty if an invalidity pension application by a person (details supplied) will be expedited. [17032/19]

Minister of State at the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Finian McGrath): Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath The gentleman referred to has been awarded invalidity pension with effect from 21 February 2019.  Payment will issue to his nominated post office on 25 April 2019.  Any arrears due from 21 February 2019 to 24 April 2019 (less any overlapping social welfare payment) will issue as soon as possible.  The gentleman in question was notified of this decision on 09 April 2019.

  I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Social Insurance

 200. Deputy Brendan Griffin Information on Brendan Griffin Zoom on Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty her plans to reform social protection for the self-employed; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17054/19]

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty The Programme for Government includes a commitment to introduce an enhanced PRSI scheme for the self-employed as part of the Government's policy of making work pay and encouraging self-employment and entrepreneurship.  Making progress on this commitment has been one of my key priorities since becoming Minister.

  Self-employed workers, who earn €5,000 or more in a contribution year, are liable for PRSI at the class S rate of 4%, subject to a minimum annual payment of €500.  This provides them with access to the following benefits: State pension (contributory), widow’s, widower’s or surviving civil partner’s pension (contributory), guardian’s payment (contributory), maternity benefit, adoptive benefit, paternity benefit and treatment benefit (from March 2017).  The treatment benefit scheme includes dental and optical benefits such as free eye and dental exams and contributions towards the cost of hearing aids.

  In addition entitlement to invalidity pension was extended to the self-employed from December 2017.   For the first time this gives the self-employed access to the safety-net of income supports if they become permanently incapable of work as a result of illness or disability, without having to go through a means test.   

In Budget 2019 I was pleased to announce that jobseeker's benefit will be extended to the self-employed towards the end of   2019.

  All these improvements to entitlements are a real advance in the level of cover available to the self-employed and were introduced without an increase in the PRSI charge for this group.

  I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy. 

Job Initiatives

 201. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan Information on Maureen O'Sullivan Zoom on Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty if the Seetec service is the most relevant service for professional actors. [17069/19]

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty All Jobseekers on the Live Register must be capable of, available for and actively seeking full-time employment, they are also required to engage with the Department's activation services. The Social Welfare (Consolidated) Act 2005, as amended, specifies that participation in activation meetings is mandatory. 

JobPath is an employment activation service that supports people who are long-term unemployed, including those working part time and those at risk of becoming long-term unemployed, to secure and sustain full-time paid employment. For those long term unemployed jobseekers with very limited employment options available within a specialised field in their local area, they may be required to broaden the search to a wider area or to other types of employment.

All long term unemployed jobseekers on the Live Register are eligible for selection for the JobPath service and clients are chosen by means of a random selection process.

JobPath provides an intensive personal service which focuses on the skills and experience of each person.  In the case of clients already in part-time employment, or who take up a short term employment position, this personal service may focus on any options or opportunities to increase the level of employment in their current role, or look at possibilities in other areas. This may also involve some upskilling to equip the person to take up employment which has the possibility of  providing a  more sustainable income and a move away from a jobseekers payment. It is important therefore that jobseekers continue to engage with their JobPath provider.

Jobseekers referred to the JobPath service who are also working  casually or in part-time positions will have all activities including meetings with their personal advisor scheduled around their work commitments and the JobPath contractors are required to be flexible in the provision of the service in that respect. 

For those people who take up occasional work when engaged with JobPath, the service will offer in-work support and they will not be required to attend with their personal advisor until the employment ends.

If the Deputy has a concern regarding a particular individual, she should advise the person to contact his or her local Intreo Centre to discuss the specific circumstances.

I trust this clarifies matters for the Deputy.

Domiciliary Care Allowance Review

 202. Deputy Martin Heydon Information on Martin Heydon Zoom on Martin Heydon asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty the status of a survey carried out in 2018 by her Department of parents on domiciliary care allowance in relation to potentially increasing the disability allowance age from 16 to 18 years of age and extending the domiciliary care allowance age from 16 to 18 years of age; when a decision will be made on same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17102/19]

Minister of State at the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Finian McGrath): Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath The Make Work Pay report was published in April 2017 following a commitment in the Comprehensive Employment Strategy for people with disabilities 2015 -2024, and was undertaken in order to better identify how people with disabilities could be supported to achieve their employment ambitions.

The report made two recommendations (number 9 and 10) that addressed significant issues around the design of the main income supports schemes.  These related to a proposed reconfiguration of the of DA (from the current starting age of 16 to 18 years) and an implementation of the principle of early engagement for young persons on Disability Allowance (DA) and on all illness and disability payments.

To fulfil a commitment made at the time of the report, a wide-ranging consultation exercise was conducted with persons with disabilities, their families and representative groups in relation to these recommendations.  This consultation began in September 2017 and continued until June 2018. Outcomes from stakeholder submissions, four regional consultation events (held in Dublin, Cork, Sligo, and Limerick), and online questionnaires/survey were compiled.  These outcomes were further considered by a key stakeholder focus group (this group comprises of persons with experience of disability issues, who also helped the Department with the design of the national consultation process).

The national consultation process gathered a large amount of material and a draft report has been prepared by my Department together with the key stakeholder focus group.  I am considering the results of the consultation and have asked my officials to consider what implementation issues related to early engagement would need to be addressed before deciding on the next steps. 

Departmental Contracts Data

 203. Deputy Robert Troy Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty the State contracts awarded to a company (details supplied) over the past seven years; and the contracts delivered according to the original contract. [17113/19]

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty There were no contracts awarded by my Department over the past seven years to the company detailed in the question.

Youth Unemployment

 204. Deputy Billy Kelleher Information on Billy Kelleher Zoom on Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty the estimated cost in the first year and the full-year cost of a proposal (details supplied).  [17144/19]

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty The Youth Employment Support Scheme (YESS) was introduced on Monday 1st October 2018 and has been open to applications from that date.

  The YESS is a work experience programme, specifically targeted at young jobseekers, but also other eligible cohorts, aged 18-24 years old where they have been out of work and in receipt of qualifying payment for at least 12 months.  Clients in that age cohort who face significant barriers to employment are also eligible.   In this context the scheme is specifically targeted at those young people who are not in employment, education or training and aims to provide participants with the opportunity to learn basic work and social skills in a supportive environment while on a work placement. 

  In  considering eligibility for the scheme the Department's Case Officers would be supportive of any young person wishing to participate in the scheme.   If there are any instances where a young client has been refused approval to participate on the basis of eligibility, the Deputy may wish to make me aware of the case so that it can be reviewed.

  A budget of €5 million has been allocated to the YESS for 2019. 

  I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy. 

Family Law Cases

 205. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty if a person (details supplied) can rely on €30 per week maintenance payment, as decided by the courts, from a spouse who has left the area; and if she will make a statement on the matter.  [17158/19]

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty The issue of maintenance payments is first and foremost a private matter for the persons concerned, and if they cannot resolve the problem, then for the Courts Service through Family Law provisions.

  My Department is responsible for implementing the Liability to Maintain Family Provisions provided for in Part 12 of the Social Welfare Consolidation Act 2005, as amended. The methods of assessment of the liable relative’s ability to pay are specified in detail in Regulations S.I. 571 of 2006 and S.I. 142 of 2007 as amended.  The Liability to Maintain Family provisions are completely separate to Family Law legislation. 

  My Department has no responsibility for decisions made by the Courts Service under Family Law legislation.  

  If the person is experiencing an urgent financial need she should contact my Department's community welfare service for assistance.

  I  hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Social Welfare Benefits Eligibility

 206. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty when child benefit and-or one parent family allowance is payable in the case of a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17160/19]

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty The person concerned submitted a child benefit (CB) application on the 25th of January 2019.  As she indicated on her application form that she had not entered employment since her arrival in Ireland her claim was disallowed as she did not meet the Habitual Residence Condition.

The person has since provided information to her local Intreo Centre - in relation to a One Parent Family (OFP) claim - to say that she had entered employment in Ireland since her arrival in November 2018.

A decision was made to award OFP based on the information from the statement that she had entered employment in Ireland following her arrival in the State in November 2018.  However, subsequent enquiries have indicated that no employment is registered on Departmental records. In light of this, the decisions that the habitual residence condition was satisfied and to award OFP are being reviewed and the result of the review will be communicated to the person concerned and the Deputy in due course.

Her CB application is currently under review and correspondence issued to her on 9 April seeking clarification in relation to her stated employment.  Once this information is received a decision will be made and also communicated to the person concerned.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Housing Assistance Payment

 207. Deputy John Brady Information on John Brady Zoom on John Brady asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy the reason a half-rate carer's payment is assessed as means under HAP but not under rent supplement in circumstances in which those being transferred from rent supplement to HAP are having their half-rate carer's payment assessed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17002/19]

Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government (Deputy Eoghan Murphy): Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy Applications for social housing support are assessed by the relevant local authority, in accordance with the eligibility and need criteria set down in section 20 of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009 and the associated Social Housing Assessment Regulations 2011, as amended. In order to be eligible for HAP support, a household must first qualify for social housing support and be placed on a housing list. 

  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 2011 Regulations do not provide local authorities with any discretion to exceed the limits that apply to their administrative areas.

  The income bands and the authority area assigned to each band were 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. It is important to note that the limits introduced at that time also reflected a blanket increase of €5,000 introduced prior to the new system coming into operation, in order to broaden the base from which social housing tenants are drawn, both promoting sustainable communities and also providing a degree of future-proofing.

Under the Household Means Policy, which applies to all local authorities, net income for social housing assessment is defined as gross household income less income tax, PRSI   and the universal social charge.  The Policy provides for a range of income disregards, including carer's allowance. Local authorities also have discretion to decide to disregard income that is temporary, short-term or once off in nature. 

Public Sector Staff Recruitment

 208. Deputy Róisín Shortall Information on Róisín Shortall Zoom on Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy the implications of circular letter EL 02/2011 in terms of persons in the public sector being recruited from outside the common recruitment pool (details supplied); if the issues of deterrence, unfairness and inequity which arise in terms of recruitment of experienced persons will be given consideration; the statutory instrument that allows the circular to set down this position; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17011/19]

Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government (Deputy Eoghan Murphy): Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy Public sector employment policy is a matter for my colleague the Minister for Finance and Public Expenditure and Reform. In accordance with the Department of Finance Circular E100/8/82 of 23 December 2010, relating to “Starting Pay on Recruitment from Open Competitions”, my Department issued Circular letter E.L. 02/2011 to local authorities. This circular outlines that offers of appointment, to persons, that are not serving local authority employees on or after 1 January 2011, must be at the minimum point of the relevant pay scale.

However, the circular includes a provision for exceptions to this overarching governing principle. Where a local authority chief executive is of the view that there are exceptional circumstances, justifying the offer of starting pay above the minimum, he/she may seek a specific sanction from my Department, in advance of any offer being made. My Department consults with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform on such requests. 

Defined Benefit Pension Schemes

 209. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald Information on Mary Lou McDonald Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy if a defined benefit pension scheme (details supplied) has been closed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17033/19]

Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government (Deputy Eoghan Murphy): Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy The Ervia defined benefit pension scheme is closed to new members. Historically, Ervia provided retirement benefits for the majority of its employees through defined benefit schemes. As part of a programme of pay and pension reform agreed with staff and unions, Ervia closed the defined benefit scheme to new entrants with effect from February 2014 and agreed, subject to Ministerial consent, to introduce a defined contribution scheme for new entrants.  A PRSA scheme was offered to new entrants in the period following closure of the defined benefit scheme, until the defined contribution scheme was introduced following Ministerial approval.  Ministerial approval was given in April 2016 and the scheme commenced on 30 August 2016.

Social and Affordable Housing

 210. 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 measure for inflation used in the calculation of the public sector benchmark for the first bundle of public private partnership social housing agreed in March 2019. [17035/19]

 217. 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 there was a risk adjustment included in the public sector benchmark exercise for the social housing PPP contract signed in March 2019. [17048/19]

Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government (Deputy Eoghan Murphy): Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy I propose to take Questions Nos. 210 and 217 together.

A risk adjustment is included in the Public Sector Benchmark (PSB) for Bundle 1 of the Social Housing PPP Programme. This PSB was compiled in full accordance with Department of Finance and Department of Public Expenditure guidance. The guidance clearly states the public sector benchmark should include the whole life cost, including risk, to the Sponsoring Agency of procuring the project using traditional procurement.

With regard to the inflation rate that is included in the same Public Sector Benchmark, the most up to date Department of Public Expenditure and Reform guidance concerning the rates of inflation to be used when calculating public sector benchmarks is available at the following link: www.gov.ie/en/policy-information/1a0dcb-project-discount-inflation-rates/.

As the Deputy will be aware, it is not possible at the present time to release details of project specific risk adjustment or inflation indices as they are important components of the methodology used for costing public sector projects through the PSB. 

Current policy is that the final PSB, or any elements thereof, is not made public during the tendering process, on the basis that revealing the amount that the State may pay for a service may impact the value for money achieved and the pricing behaviour of those submitting tender applications. As such, this is deemed to be commercially sensitive information.

This guidance also applies where it is intended to procure further similar projects in the near future. As part of the ongoing Social Housing PPP programme, tenders for Bundle 2 are currently being evaluated, and the process for Bundle 3 is due to commence shortly.

The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform has indicated that following the completion of the construction phase of a PPP, once an appropriate period of time has elapsed and the commercial sensitivity of the information on the project is no longer an issue (having regard also to any other similar PPP projects which may be in pre-procurement), the PSB should be made public.

 

Foreshore Licence Conditions

 211. Deputy Michael Collins Information on Michael Collins Zoom on Michael Collins asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy if the licence granted to a company (details supplied) for the mechanical harvesting of kelp in Bantry Bay overrides all other licences operating in the area; if fishermen who leave their fishing equipment in the kelp-cutting licence area do so at their own risk; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [17036/19]

Minister of State at the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government (Deputy Damien English): Information on Damien English Zoom on Damien English The licence in question provides for the harvesting of kelp in specific areas of Bantry Bay in rotation. The areas to be harvested are outlined in the original application and supporting documentation which is available on my Department's website at www.housing.gov.ie/planning/foreshore/applications/bioatlantis-ltd.

  The licence does not confer exclusive use of the areas and under the licence less than 1% of the Bay would be subject to harvest annually. 

  The harvesting method permitted under the licence entails applying moderate suction to draw the algae into the cutter, which is controlled by the use of sonar, ensuring that the cutting tool remains 25 centimeters above the seafloor or anything resting on it.

Wind Energy Guidelines

 212. Deputy Michael Fitzmaurice Information on Michael Fitzmaurice Zoom on Michael Fitzmaurice asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy if there will be an increase to the mandatory minimum 500 metre setback distance for the construction of turbines near homes in the near future; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [17057/19]

Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government (Deputy Eoghan Murphy): Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy My Department is currently undertaking a focused review of the 2006 Wind Energy Development Guidelines.  The review is addressing a number of key aspects including sound or noise, visual amenity setback distances, shadow flicker, community obligation, community dividend and grid connections.

As part of the overall review, a strategic environmental assessment (SEA) is being undertaken on the revised Guidelines before they come into effect, in accordance with the requirements of EU Directive 2001/24/EC on the assessment of the effects of certain plans and programmes on the environment, otherwise known as the SEA Directive.

SEA is a process by which environmental considerations are required to be fully integrated into the preparation of plans and programmes which act as frameworks for development consent, prior to their final adoption, with public consultation as part of that process.   My Department appointed SEA experts in December 2017 to assist in this regard. 

These revised draft guidelines were to be published in Quarter 1 2019.  However, there have now been some delays to the planned schedule, due to the recent publication of updated World Health Organisation (WHO) noise standards and the need to focus on certain Brexit-related planning issues. As part of the SEA process, there will be an 8 week public consultation on the revised draft Guidelines, together with the comprehensive environmental report with the aim of issuing the finalised Guidelines, following detailed analysis and consideration of the submissions and views received during the consultation phase, later in 2019.

When finalised, the revised Guidelines will be issued under Section 28 of the Planning and Development Act 2000, as amended.  Planning authorities and, where applicable, An Bord Pleanála must have regard to guidelines issued under Section 28 in the performance of their functions generally under the Planning Acts. In the meantime, the current 2006 Wind Energy Development Guidelines remain in force.

Planning Issues

 213. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy the process and timeline for the review of the strategic housing developments' fast track planning; the way in which persons can make submissions on same; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [16998/19]

Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government (Deputy Eoghan Murphy): Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy The Planning and Development (Housing) and Residential Tenancies Act 2016 (the Act) introduced new streamlined arrangements to enable planning applications for strategic housing developments (SHDs) of 100 housing units or more or student accommodation or shared accommodation developments of 200 bed spaces or more, to be made directly to An Bord Pleanála (the Board) for determination. 

The primary purpose of the SHD arrangements is to significantly speed up the planning decision-making process, thereby providing greater certainty for developers in terms of the timeframes within which proposals for such developments can be determined in the planning system, while also fully respecting the statutory requirements for consultation and having regard to observations submitted.

The Act provides that the SHD arrangements apply for an initial period of 3 years, until the end of 2019. Section 4(2)(a) of the Act provides that not later than 30 October 2019, the Minister shall review the operation and effectiveness of the SHD arrangements and lay before both Houses of the Oireachtas a report of the conclusions of the review. Arrangements for public engagement with the review process will be announced as part of the review.

Following the review,  section 4(2)(b) of the Act provides that  the arrangements may be extended for a further limited period of 2 years, up to the end of 2021 which coincides with the timeframe of Rebuilding Ireland. 

Rental Sector Strategy

 214. Deputy Brendan Howlin Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy the additional resources provided to each local authority to enable the implementation of new regulations on short-term lets; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17024/19]

 215. Deputy Brendan Howlin Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy the date on which the regulations on short-term lets will be implemented; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17025/19]

Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government (Deputy Eoghan Murphy): Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy I propose to take Questions Nos. 214 and 215 together.

Under Action 18 of the Strategy for the Rental Sector published in December 2016, a Working Group was established, involving representatives of all major public stakeholders with a policy interest in short-term lettings, to consider measures aimed at facilitating the short-term letting of accommodation within permanent residences (homesharing), protecting the existing stock of residential stock in areas of high demand, providing clarity in relation to the appropriate regulatory approach  -  from a planning perspective -  for short term tourism related lettings while also recognising the important role of short-term lettings in the provision of tourist accommodation.  

Having considered the Working Group's report as well as the recommendations in the report of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Housing, Planning and Local Government on short-term lettings, I announced plans to regulate short term lettings.

As the proposals are primarily aimed at addressing the impact on the private rental market by the use of residential homes for short term tourism type letting, in areas of high housing demand, it is intended that the new provisions will only apply in areas designated as rent pressure zones (RPZs) under the Residential Tenancies Act 2004.

Under the proposed new arrangements, homesharing will continue to be permissible for a person’s primary residence on an unrestricted basis. In addition, an annual cap of 90 days will apply for the renting out on a short-term basis of a person's entire home where it is their primary residence, with such short-term lets being restricted to periods of 14 days or less at a time. Where the 90 day threshold is exceeded, change of use planning permission will be required.

Furthermore, where a person owns a property that it not their principal private residence and intends to let it for short-term letting purposes, they will also be required to apply for a change of use planning permission unless the property already has a specific planning permission to be used for tourism or short-term letting purposes. It will be up to each local planning authority to consider such applications, having regard to guidance that will issue from my Department, taking account of housing demand pressures in the area concerned and other relevant factors such as cumulative impacts. 

It is important to note that these proposed changes will not affect the operation of holiday homes as typically understood, or longer-term flexible type lettings including lettings to those coming to Ireland under temporary employment contracts or those moving employment location and who require temporary accommodation while seeking long-term accommodation etc.

The new arrangements are being introduced through the planning code and each planning authority’s enforcement unit will be responsible for monitoring and enforcing these new requirements.  Additional funding will be  provided to support local authority enforcement of the new short-term letting arrangements and my Department will be engaging with the relevant local authorities in that regard.

It is intended that the proposed planning reforms will come into effect on 1 July 2019 and the  primary legislative provisions required to underpin the proposals are currently progressing through the Houses of the Oireachtas through the Residential Tenancies (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill 2018. In addition, the necessary supporting planning regulations to further underpin the proposals are currently being finalised and details will be published in due course.

Traveller Accommodation

 216. Deputy Gerry Adams Information on Gerry Adams Zoom on Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy when the report of the expert group on Traveller accommodation programmes will be published; if the report will be brought to Dáil Éireann for debate or discussion; if all local authorities will be provided with the report in order to inform local Traveller accommodation programmes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17037/19]

Minister of State at the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government (Deputy Damien English): Information on Damien English Zoom on Damien English In line with the commitment in Rebuilding Ireland, and reflecting the disappointing level of overall funding drawdown in recent years, the Housing Agency, in 2017, commissioned a review of funding for traveller-specific accommodation to date.  This review had regard to targets contained in local authority TAPs and actual delivery, the current status of accommodation funded and funding provided for accommodation maintenance and other supports.   

 Following its consideration of the review, the National Traveller Accommodation Consultative Committee recommended the establishment of an independent expert group to review the effectiveness, implementation and operation of legislation and to put forward proposals to improve delivery of Traveller accommodation nationally.  The expert group was established in September 2018 and I understand it will submit a report to me shortly.  

My  Department  will consider any recommendations made by the expert group to  improve the delivery of Traveller accommodation nationally and to ensure that full use is made of the increased level of funding available for investment in Traveller accommodation.  I would be happy to discuss the report with Members of the House at the appropriate time.  


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