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 Header Item Building Energy Rating Administration (Continued)
 Header Item Ceisteanna Eile - Other Questions
 Header Item Social and Affordable Housing Maintenance
 Header Item Social and Affordable Housing Data

Wednesday, 11 December 2019

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 991 No. 2

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Deputy Jan O'Sullivan: Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan While I appreciate the work being done in the midlands, it largely relates to a just transition for the workers. This is welcome for people living in the area but I am trying to find out how much additional money, on top of the ongoing schemes that have been in place since 2013, is being provided for people living in low energy efficiency homes in other parts of the country. Will the Minister of State specifically tell me how much is being provided for phase 2, to which he referred and which is to start this year? Where insulation is being installed in local authority homes, is an independent building energy rating, BER, survey carried out in each home after the works are completed to ensure that they have improved the energy rating?

Deputy Damien English: Information on Damien English Zoom on Damien English A BER certificate is issued both before and after the works to capture what has been achieved. That is an EU requirement. Some €25 million has been allocated for phase 2 of the scheme next year. A call for submissions is issued to all local authorities every year seeking applications for funding under the energy efficiency retrofit programme. It is natural and positive that there are always more requests than can be funded each year. This means that there is an ongoing demand. In 2019, the local authority funding request was approximately €40 million. Approximately €25 million of this has been spent so far this year. The same will be spent next year. We recognise that this is an area into which we will need to put more money in the coming years. The initial projection of the cost to retrofit all existing social housing stock is anywhere between €1 billion and €2 billion. We are committed to doing that over the coming years through a roll-out organised by our Department in conjunction with the Department of the Minister, Deputy Bruton. There is a bit of work to be done there.

The aim is to get homes to a BER of B2, which is the cost-optimal rating. This involves initial work to clarify the state of a home and then seeing what is achieved after works are completed. On top of that, the best way to achieve our overall aims is to survey the condition of our stock right across the counties. Such work is being done in Clare and other counties to develop a picture of where we are. We will then be able to budget correctly for the years ahead.

Deputy Jan O'Sullivan: Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan Some of these homes are in a bad state and funding must be stepped up to protect people from fuel poverty. This additional money is a relatively small amount. For clarity, does the Minister of State's Department gather the information arising from the BER surveys carried out before and after works from the local authorities? Is such information centrally gathered by the Department?

Deputy Damien English: Information on Damien English Zoom on Damien English It is a condition of receiving resources. The Deputy raised issues with regard to certain local authorities not having spent money allocated for voids programmes and so on previously. They are often combined. The BER certificates are required and we do gather the data. It is gathered locally and then made available to us. I do not know whether we take it in every week but it is available to us because we have to have the data showing the difference in BER rating achieved to pay out under these schemes. The Deputy argues that we need more money. We know that but, to be fair, it is a big step in the right direction to have upgraded more than half the housing stock. This programme has been ongoing since 2013. We are committed to it. We will put funding in place in the years ahead to ensure it is completed. It has to happen but it will not all happen in one year. It certainly will happen over the coming years because it is very important. We depend on local authorities to prioritise the houses that need earlier work and intervention. Some counties have done great work in this regard. In the Deputy's own county of Limerick, more than 1,000 houses have been retrofitted. Tipperary is probably leading the charge in that close to 4,000 properties have been retrofitted in the county. There is a lot of movement in some local authorities. That is what we are trying to do. Naturally, we want to be able to respond to their requests as quickly as we possibly can. It will mean additional resources. That is work to which we are also committed under the climate action plan.

Ceisteanna Eile - Other Questions

Social and Affordable Housing Maintenance

 41. Deputy Jan O'Sullivan Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy the monitoring in place to ensure that local authority homes that have received a thermal upgrade reach an improved BER rating; if a survey is carried out to measure the improvement; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [51802/19]

 56. Deputy Sean Sherlock Information on Seán Sherlock Zoom on Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy the amount spent by local authorities since 2017 on retrofitting; and the number of houses that have been retrofitted by each local authority. [49434/19]

Deputy Jan O'Sullivan: Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan Coincidentally, this question is on the same topic. It is the first of the ordinary questions. It., again. relates to the BERs of local authority homes. I stress my concern that while people are waiting for additional funding to be allocated and for this work to be carried out, fuel costs are increasing for those who are, by definition, on low incomes because they are in local authority homes. I urge the Minister of State to improve the situation with regard to such homes wherever possible.

Deputy Damien English: Information on Damien English Zoom on Damien English I propose to take Questions Nos. 41 and 56 together.

The energy efficiency retrofitting programme for social housing was launched in 2013 with the aim of improving the insulation standards and overall energy performance of local authority social housing stock for all the reasons the Deputy outlined, including helping with the issue of fuel poverty, making our homes healthier, warmer and more comfortable places to live, and reducing the cost of running them. The programme commenced with phase 1 works, which were targeted at cavity wall and attic insulation. Phase 2 commenced in all local authorities this year and is focusing on fabric upgrade works to dwellings and includes external wall insulation and upgrades to windows, doors and heating. This will be very beneficial. By the end of 2019, approximately 71 ,000 homes, or just over half of the local authority social housing stock, will have benefited from retrofit works under this programme supported by a total spend of more than €144 million.

Improvements in thermal performance are measured by local authorities through the use of pre and post-works building energy rating, BER, certificates which provide a good indicator of the energy savings and the reduction in CO2 emissions arising from retrofit works. As a condition of phase 2, a registered pre and post-works BER certificate must be provided for all properties and details submitted to my Department in order for the local authority to draw down funding. That provides the clarity the Deputy sought earlier.

Deputy Jan O'Sullivan: Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan I ask for greater clarity in this regard. Is there a timeframe for the carrying out of a survey after the works are completed? To be clear, is the contractor paid before the final survey has been carried out?

Deputy Damien English: Information on Damien English Zoom on Damien English To be honest with the Deputy, I do not have information on the timing. It is up to the local authority but I presume we can do it quite quickly. With regard to when people are paid, we do not pay out until we receive the rating. I do not know what arrangements the local authorities have in place. We cannot do everything for them. That is a matter for them to arrange locally. The Department, however, does not pay out until we receive the certificates.

Deputy Jan O'Sullivan: Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan In some cases, despite basic works being carried out on attics and walls and so on, a home may still have a low energy rating because of leaking windows or other issues. I know the schemes are very specific but is it possible to allocate funding to carry out other works, such as works on windows or other elements, on such homes?

Deputy Damien English: Information on Damien English Zoom on Damien English The Department has common sense. We work with local authorities as best as we can. There are a range of schemes outside of these grants under which houses can be retrofitted. These grants are linked to specific works and to BER certificates. A range of works may need to be carried out. If local authorities propose to carry out other works, we will examine those proposals. The aim is to achieve a BER of B2, the cost-optimal rating. This will mean more work in the case of some houses but that can be achieved under planned maintenance work. This grant is focused on energy efficiency and making our houses more comfortable and warmer but there are other works to be carried out on houses. As the Deputy will be aware, we discussed the voids programme last night. At this stage, close to 10,000 houses have been brought back into use. When local authorities are doing this, a deep retrofit and other works are often carried out on the house. In some cases, a house identified under the voids programme may require €80,000 worth of work rather than €30,000. That is the time to do the work.

Local authorities collect a lot of rent from some of these houses. We have asked them to put in place a planned maintenance programme. That will also consider energy efficiencies. There are different ways of doing this. Naturally, we ask local authorities that are drawing down this kind of funding in respect of a house to complete other works at the same time, if possible. They have maintenance budgets, as they should. Some local authorities do well and have a good record of collecting rent and spending it wisely. Others charge lower rents for whatever reason - that decision is made locally - and may not always spend the money raised on maintenance programmes. We encourage local authorities to collect a reasonable rent to spend on existing housing stock.

Social and Affordable Housing Data

 43. Deputy Paul Murphy Information on Paul Murphy Zoom on Paul Murphy asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy the number of new build homes to be completed by each local authority by the end of 2019.  [51370/19]

 85. Deputy Niamh Smyth Information on Niamh Smyth Zoom on Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy the number of new builds undertaken by his Department, local authorities, or both, by county in 2019, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [51136/19]

Deputy Paul Murphy: Information on Paul Murphy Zoom on Paul Murphy I ask the Minister how many new-build homes are to be completed by each local authority by the end of 2019 because the Government has a mantra that 10,000 social housing units will be delivered this year, which is simply not true. I want him to put the figures on the record to demonstrate that it is not true and that he is engaging in spin worthy of Boris Johnson.

Deputy Eoghan Murphy: Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy I propose to take Questions Nos. 43 and 85 together.

Earlier this year, I published the 2019 targets for social housing delivery on a local authority basis and by delivery mechanism, including build, acquisition, leasing, housing assistance payment, HAP, and rental accommodation scheme, RAS. Each quarter, I publish details of progress against those targets and the outputs for the third quarter of 2019 have just been published. These show 66% delivery to the end of September, or just under 18,000 households securing keys to a home under a social housing programme in the first nine months of this year.

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