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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 195-214
 Header Item Wind Energy Guidelines
 Header Item Departmental Offices
 Header Item Departmental Offices
 Header Item Deer Hunting
 Header Item Housing Inspections
 Header Item Private Rented Accommodation
 Header Item Private Rented Accommodation
 Header Item Social and Affordable Housing
 Header Item Social and Affordable Housing
 Header Item Local Authority Housing
 Header Item Emergency Accommodation
 Header Item Housing Issues
 Header Item Legislative Programme
 Header Item National Parks and Wildlife Service
 Header Item Social and Affordable Housing
 Header Item Housing Policy
 Header Item Homelessness Strategy
 Header Item Social and Affordable Housing
 Header Item Local Authority Housing

Thursday, 12 November 2020

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 1000 No. 6
Unrevised

First Page Previous Page Page of 74 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 195-214

Wind Energy Guidelines

 195. Deputy Cathal Crowe Information on Cathal Crowe Zoom on Cathal Crowe asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien when new wind energy guidelines will be issued to planning authorities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35830/20]

Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage (Deputy Darragh O'Brien): Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien My Department is currently undertaking a focused review of the 2006 Wind Energy Development Guidelines in line with the “preferred draft approach” which was announced in June 2017 by the then Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government, in conjunction with the then Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment. 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 process, a strategic environmental assessment (SEA) is being undertaken on the revised Guidelines before they come into effect, in accordance with the requirements of European Union 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.

As part of the SEA process, the previous Minister launched a ten-week public consultation on the draft revised Wind Energy Development Guidelines on 12 December 2019. The documents prepared for consultation are available on my Department's website at the following link: www.housing.gov.ie/guidelines/wind-energy/public-consultation-revised-wind-energy-development-guidelines.

The consultation closed on 19 February 2020. Almost 500 submissions were received as part of the public consultation, many of which are extremely detailed and technical in nature. My Department, in conjunction with the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications (DECC), is currently analysing the submissions received.

Finalised Guidelines will be prepared following detailed analysis and consideration of the submissions received during the consultation phase, and the conclusion of the SEA process. The Department, in consultation with DECC, is endeavouring to finalise and publish the revised Guidelines as quickly as possible.

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.

Departmental Offices

 196. Deputy Catherine Murphy Information on Catherine Murphy Zoom on Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien if his Department has lease arrangements with co-working real estate companies; and, if so, the details of the leases, including the terms of the lease, location, price and duration. [35860/20]

Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage (Deputy Darragh O'Brien): Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien My Department does not have lease arrangements with co-working real estate companies. The majority of offices used by staff in my Department are managed by the Office of Public Works.

Departmental Offices

 197. Deputy Catherine Murphy Information on Catherine Murphy Zoom on Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien if his Department leases additional office space that is outside its departmental building and the estates section of the OPW; and, if so, the details of the lease, including the terms of the lease, location, price and duration. [35878/20]

Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage (Deputy Darragh O'Brien): Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien The information requested by the Deputy is currently being compiled and will be forwarded in accordance with Standing Orders.

Deer Hunting

 198. Deputy Michael Creed Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien when a licence will issue to a person (details supplied). [35917/20]

Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage (Deputy Darragh O'Brien): Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien The license in question issued from my Department earlier this week.

Housing Inspections

 199. Deputy Fergus O'Dowd Information on Fergus O'Dowd Zoom on Fergus O'Dowd asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien the number of inspections of private rented accommodation carried out by local authorities in 2019 and to date in 2020; the findings of those inspections; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35930/20]

Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage (Deputy Darragh O'Brien): Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien The Housing (Standards for Rented Houses) Regulations 2019 specify requirements in relation to a range of matters, such as structural repair, sanitary facilities, heating, ventilation, natural light and the safety of gas, oil and electrical supplies. With very limited exemptions, these apply to all private rented residential accommodation.   

  All landlords have a legal obligation to ensure that their rented properties, regardless of tenancy type, comply with these regulations. Responsibility for the enforcement of the Regulations rests with the relevant local authority.

  Data in respect of inspections undertaken by local authorities in 2019 and to the end of June 2020 is set out in the table below. Q3 data is being collated.

Year Inspections Dwellings Inspected Dwellings Deemed Compliant on 1st Inspection Dwellings Deemed Non-compliant on 1st Inspection Dwellings Deemed Compliant by Year-end
2019 40,998 32,199 2,101 28,196 9,307
2020 to June 30th 11,997 10,200 446 7,848 3,367


  Pandemic restrictions have greatly reduced the number of inspections carried out this year.

  My Department has made significant Exchequer funding available to local authorities in recent years, with the result that the number of inspections undertaken more than doubled from 19,645 in 2017 to 40,998 in 2019, with a similar increase in the number of properties becoming compliant from 3,329 to 7,206. In order to assist local authorities increase inspection rates further and strengthen compliance, an increased budget of €10m has been approved for 2021.

  Detailed information in relation to inspections carried out by each local authority since 2005 is available on my Department's website at the following link:

  www.housing.gov.ie/housing/statistics/house-building-and-private-rented/private-housing-market-statistics.

Private Rented Accommodation

 200. Deputy Fergus O'Dowd Information on Fergus O'Dowd Zoom on Fergus O'Dowd asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien the regulations in place to prevent overcrowding in private rented accommodation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35931/20]

Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage (Deputy Darragh O'Brien): Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien Part IV of the Housing Act 1966 deals with overcrowding and establishes effective limits on the numbers of people that can occupy the same bedroom. The Act requires, inter alia, that there is at least 400 cubic feet of free air space for each person in a bedroom. Local Authorities are responsible for the enforcement of this legislation.

Under the Act, a housing authority may request information from the owner or occupier of a house such as will allow that authority to determine if a house can be deemed to be overcrowded, having regard to section 63 of the Act.

Under the Act, a local authority can prohibit the use of an overcrowded dwelling, irrespective of whether it is being let or not, and can serve notice on the owner of a dwelling specifying the maximum number of persons that may occupy it without causing overcrowding. If the owner of a house is causing or permitting the house to be overcrowded, the authority can require the owner to desist from this within a period not exceeding 21 days. Any person who neglects or refuses to comply with these requirements is guilty of an offence and shall be liable on summary conviction to a class C fine not exceeding €2,500 and/or to imprisonment for up to one month.

Overcrowding may give rise to concerns in respect of fire safety, and may lead to enforcement action by fire authorities.

Private Rented Accommodation

 201. Deputy Fergus O'Dowd Information on Fergus O'Dowd Zoom on Fergus O'Dowd asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien the number of persons living in private rented accommodation here (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35932/20]

Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage (Deputy Darragh O'Brien): Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien The Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) was established as an independent statutory body under the Residential Tenancies Acts 2004-2020, to operate a national tenancy registration system and to facilitate the resolution of disputes between landlords and tenants.

The Clerk of the Dáil requested that arrangements be put in place to facilitate the provision of information by State Bodies to members of the Oireachtas. Following the issue of Circular LG (P)05/16 on 20 September 2016 from my Department, the RTB set up a dedicated email address for this purpose. The RTB may be contacted at OireachtasMembersQueries@rtb.ie to establish the extent to which it may hold the information sought.

Social and Affordable Housing

 202. Deputy Cian O'Callaghan Information on Cian O'Callaghan Zoom on Cian O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien the actions he will take based on the findings of the report by the Irish Government Economic and Evaluation Service that resourcing local authorities is the most cost-effective way to deliver new social housing units; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35977/20]

Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage (Deputy Darragh O'Brien): Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien The Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Michael McGrath TD published a number of spending review papers on 5 November 2020, including a paper on the Social Housing Build Programme.

The paper examines local authority build programmes in six local authorities, encompassing local authority build, Approved Housing Body build and the acquisition of newly built units through Turnkey and Part V mechanisms. The Report noted that cost efficiency differs by mechanism and location and this should continue to be monitored and assessed by my Department and the local authorities.

The Programme for Government commits to increasing the social housing stock by more than 50,000, with an emphasis on new builds so my focus is on increasing the proportion of social homes delivered through build programmes. The funding in place for 2021 will support the delivery of 12,750 new social homes, including 9,500 to be delivery through build programmes. My Department is working closely with the local authorities and the Housing Delivery Coordination Office on this programme.

Social and Affordable Housing

 203. Deputy Cian O'Callaghan Information on Cian O'Callaghan Zoom on Cian O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien the cost of purchased Part V social housing units in each local authority in the past three years; the budget spent; the number of Part V social housing units that were purchased by each local authority; the average per-unit cost; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35983/20]

Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage (Deputy Darragh O'Brien): Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien The Programme for Government commits to increasing the social housing stock by more than 50,000, with an emphasis on new builds. In 2021, the total funding being made available for the delivery of housing programmes is €3.3bn. This includes funding to deliver 12,750 social homes through build, acquisition and leasing. A major focus of this investment is the delivery of new build, with an overall target of 9,500 new homes. The build target includes the delivery of 5,250 new homes by local authorities, 2,950 by Approved Housing Bodies and 1,300 new homes through Part V.

  My Department publishes comprehensive programme level statistics on a quarterly basis on all social housing delivery activity under Rebuilding Ireland. This is published on the statistics page of my Department’s website, at the following link: www.housing.gov.ie/housing/social-housing/social-and-affordble/overall-social-housing-provision.

  Following the introduction of changes to Part V of the Planning and Development Act 2000, effected through the Urban Regeneration and Housing Act 2015 (the relevant sections of which were commenced with effect from 1 September 2015), the range of options available through which Part V obligations might be satisfied was reduced. In particular, the payment of cash in lieu of homes or the transfer of sites or parts of sites was removed, and instead the remaining options are focused on the delivery of completed homes.

  The current options for Part V delivery are:

  - the transfer of ownership of land, subject to the planning permission application, to a local authority for the provision of social housing (the default option);

  - the building and transfer of ownership to the local authority, or persons nominated, of completed social housing homes on the site subject to the planning permission;

  - the transfer of ownership to the local authority, or persons nominated, of completed social housing homes on other land;

  - the long term leasing of social housing homes; and

  - a combination of the options above.

  The table below, sets out an indicative average cost of Part V delivered units for each local authority in the years 2017-2019, based on the information submitted to my Department.

  2017 LA SHCIP 2017 AHB CALF- Total Unit Cost 2017 AHB CALF Average Capital Outlay 2017 Average annual Lease cost 2018 LA SHCIP 2018 AHB CALF- Total Unit Cost 2018 AHB CALF Average Capital Outlay 2018 Average annual Lease cost 2019 LA SHCIP 2019 AHB CALF- Total Unit Cost 2019 AHB CALF Average Capital Outlay 2019 Average annual Lease cost
Carlow 185,451               154,256      
Cavan 130,000                      
Clare 222,500                 222,403 54,336  
Cork City         235,703       221,187 236,124 26,075  
Cork County 178,865       180,343       219,692      
Donegal                        
Dublin City 240,434 425,000 127,500   253,980 197,861 3,671 16,320 208,773 284,419 85,326 16,320
DLR 71,842 266,476 15,057 14,210 94,251 218,077 16,936   260,809 286,575 54,467 28,310
Fingal 205,227 222,135 32,412   231,040 205,735 31,155   268,616 238,860 18,446  
Galway         175,149       174,310      
Galway City 137,512 189,287 58,510     279,205 75,385   237,469 230,734 47,274  
Kerry         180,900       166,575 204,883 55,318  
Kildare 174,533       240,459 252,999 37,613   226,032 241,575 18,149  
Kilkenny   92,135 12,899         11,520   203,022 60,907  
Laois                 189,141      
Leitrim                        
Limerick 168,023       199,844       199,601      
Longford                        
Louth         114,673 219,224 58,260     248,154 57,473  
Mayo         187,340       187,340 234,000 53,820  
Meath   233,157 61,458   230,636 241,740 52,802   236,548 253,595 28,642  
Monaghan 204,829       207,727       270,594      
Offaly                        
Roscommon                        
Sligo 145,000       178,666       133,389      
South Dublin 207,051 260,620 64,154 14,310 237,108 240,578 25,631   247,565 263,816 19,099  
Tipperary         167,771     8,400 198,566      
Waterford 183,113       168,777       204,131      
Westmeath         124,438       127,234     5,270
Wexford   203,846 61,154   142,789       225,000 226,079 25,122  
Wicklow 315,000       184,857 232,537 48,477   191,572 216,900 13,636  
Note 1: The information above is calculated using the financial information available to the Department where Local Authorities have submitted a recoupment claim to the Department.
Note 2: The CALF Capital Outlay represents the average amount of CALF funding provided. (A maximum of 30%)
Note 3: Agreement on Part V arrangements are a matter for the local authorities. In some cases the Part V average is affected by delivery of homes that were subject to agreements prior to the current Part V arrangements. Complete details of PART V arrangements are available from the local authorities.

Local Authority Housing

 204. Deputy Cian O'Callaghan Information on Cian O'Callaghan Zoom on Cian O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien if a copy of the circular issued on the purchase of new and existing homes for Dublin City Council, Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council, Fingal County Council and South Dublin County Council will be provided; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35984/20]

Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage (Deputy Darragh O'Brien): Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien The current cost guidelines for the acquisition of houses and apartments for use as social housing were issued to all local authorities, including to Dublin City Council, Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council, Fingal County Council and South Dublin County Council in April 2019, under Circular 15/2019. The relevant details will be provided to the Deputy in accordance with Standing Orders.

Emergency Accommodation

 205. Deputy Cian O'Callaghan Information on Cian O'Callaghan Zoom on Cian O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien if he has issued any guidelines or circulars to local authorities in Dublin and-or the Dublin Region Homeless Executive on travel supports or funding for families placed in emergency homeless accommodation, in particular in respect of school travel costs; if so, if a copy of the guidelines or circulars issued will be provided; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35985/20]

Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage (Deputy Darragh O'Brien): Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien Supporting individuals and families experiencing homelessness is a priority for this Government and a range of measures are in place which reflect that priority.

My Department is funding an initiative to provide homeless families residing in temporary emergency accommodation in the Dublin Region with access to free public transport for essential school journeys. The Dublin Region Homeless Executive (DRHE) oversees the implementation of this initiative and, working in partnership with the National Transport Authority, has put arrangements in place for the provision of Leap cards to the families concerned. These Leap cards provide for free public transport for school-going children and accompanying adults, where necessary. My Department has not issued a circular or guidance in relation to travel supports or funding for leap cards.

Additionally the Community Welfare Service of the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection may consider, on a case-by-case basis, the needs of an individual household in respect of exceptional transport costs.

Housing Issues

 206. Deputy Cian O'Callaghan Information on Cian O'Callaghan Zoom on Cian O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien the supports in place for families that are not first-time buyers that require more space for their growing family but cannot afford to buy an adequately sized home on the private market; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35986/20]

Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage (Deputy Darragh O'Brien): Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien Supports towards the purchase of housing, including affordable housing under Part 5 of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009, the Help to Buy Scheme and the Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan, are generally directed towards first time buyers.

An exception is in Part 5 whereby a prospective purchaser who previously purchased a dwelling under an affordable dwelling purchase arrangement, or a dwelling made available under Part V of the Planning and Development Act 2000 and who now requires to relocate to a different dwelling, will not be ineligible for an affordable purchase arrangement under Part 5 by virtue of having previously purchased such a dwelling.

Legislative Programme

 207. Deputy Cian O'Callaghan Information on Cian O'Callaghan Zoom on Cian O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien the status of proposed legislation on marine protected areas; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35988/20]

Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage (Deputy Darragh O'Brien): Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien The Programme for Government - Our Shared Future - contains a commitment to develop comprehensive legislation for the identification, designation and management of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in Irish waters. It contains a further commitment to realise Ireland's outstanding target of 10% MPA coverage as soon as is practical and to aim for 30% by 2030. These commitments will advance the implementation of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive, UN Sustainable Development Goal 14 and the National Biodiversity Action Plan (2017 - 2021), while supporting the principles and ambition of the EU Biodiversity Strategy.

As a key step forward in the Government’s delivery on these commitments an expert MPA Advisory Group, established in December 2019 by my Department, delivered its detailed final report to me on 22 October during EU Green Week 2020. This comprehensive body of work by the expert group includes independent advice and recommendations on the processes required and the challenges to be addressed in expanding Ireland’s MPA network, and on very important aspects such as legislation and governance, for example.

My Department is now considering in detail the final report of the MPA Advisory Group. I also intend to publish the report as part of an extensive public consultation which will begin in the coming months.

In line with the commitments in the Programme for Government as mentioned, my Department intends to begin developing legislation on the identification, designation and management of MPAs next year. This task will be informed and guided by our current detailed consideration of the expert group report and also by the extensive public consultation phase to come later this year and into next year.

National Parks and Wildlife Service

 208. Deputy Cian O'Callaghan Information on Cian O'Callaghan Zoom on Cian O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien when the next review of the National Parks and Wildlife Service will commence; the terms of reference for such a review; if there will be a public consultation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35989/20]

Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage (Deputy Darragh O'Brien): Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien There is a commitment in the Programme for Government to review the remit, status and funding of the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) to ensure that it is playing an effective role in delivering its overall mandate and enforcement role in the protection of wildlife. I have decided that the review should be headed by an independent chairperson overseeing a triptych review process with a target completion date of Summer 2021. I am actively engaging with my officials in the National Parks and Wildlife Service in discussing the review further and am currently considering options with regard to the Terms of Reference and stakeholder engagement.

Social and Affordable Housing

 209. Deputy Cian O'Callaghan Information on Cian O'Callaghan Zoom on Cian O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien the percentage of new social and affordable housing units which meet the universal design standard; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35990/20]

 210. Deputy Cian O'Callaghan Information on Cian O'Callaghan Zoom on Cian O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien the target for the number of new social and affordable housing units that will be fully accessible for persons with disabilities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35991/20]

Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage (Deputy Darragh O'Brien): Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien I propose to take Questions Nos. 209 and 210 together.

  Local authorities are responsible for the provision of social housing in their areas, and, as such, decide on the number and specific types of dwellings to provide in their developments, based on identified need. My Department oversees national social housing delivery at programme and scheme level and does not hold specific details in relation to individual dwellings built in accordance with universal design principles.

  Social housing is built to the design standards set out in the guidelines 'Quality Housing for Sustainable Communities' which are available at www.housing.gov.ie/sites/default/files/migrated-files/en/Publications/DevelopmentandHousing/Housing/FileDownLoad%2C1979%2Cen.pdf.

   In preparing these Guidelines, particular account was taken of the objectives of government policy on sustainability, including access for people with disabilities and meeting the varied needs of occupants through their lifetime.

  The design approach to social housing seeks to eliminate barriers to accessibility for all users - particularly older people, and those with mobility impairment or other disability. Where units are being designed for those with disabilities, the Guidelines refer to the National Disability Authority publication 'Building for Everyone: Inclusion, Access and Use'.

  More recently, the Housing Agency published a Roadmap titled 'Designing Housing to Meet the Needs of All' which has specific regard to the principles of universal design. www.housingagency.ie/sites/default/files/2019-07/Designing-Housing-to-meet-the-needs-of-all.pdf.

  New buildings and extensions or material alterations to existing buildings must comply with the legal minimum performance standards set out in the Building Regulations 1997 - 2019. In this context, the Building Regulations (Part M Amendment) Regulations 2010, and the accompanying Technical Guidance Document M – Access and Use (2010), which came into effect on 1 January 2012, set out the minimum statutory requirements that a building must achieve in respect of access.

  Part M of the Building Regulations aims to foster an inclusive approach to the design and construction of the built environment. While the Part M requirements may be regarded as a statutory minimum level of provision, the accompanying technical guidance encourages building owners and designers to have regard to the design philosophy of universal design and to consider making additional provisions where practicable and appropriate.

  The Programme for Government Our Shared Future commits to ensuring that there is an appropriate mix of housing design types provided, including universally designed units, and accommodation for older people and people with disabilities. In addition, the joint policy statement Housing Options for Our Ageing Population, launched by my Department and the Department of Health in 2019 includes an Action on universal design to “In partnership with industry, introduce measures to ensure that over a five year period delivery is increased to ensure that 30% of all new dwellings are built to incorporate universal design principles to accommodate our ageing population.” Appropriate measures to deliver on this commitment are currently being formulated by my Department.

Housing Policy

 211. Deputy Cian O'Callaghan Information on Cian O'Callaghan Zoom on Cian O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien the mechanisms that exist to ensure the voices of persons with disabilities are heard on housing provision; his views on the effectiveness of the mechanism; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35992/20]

Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage (Deputy Darragh O'Brien): Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien The National Housing Strategy for people with a Disability (NHSPWD) 2011-2016 and associated National Implementation Framework were jointly published by my Department and the Department of Health. They set out the Government’s broad framework for the delivery of housing for people with disabilities and were developed as part of a coherent framework in conjunction with the Government’s mental health policy, A Vision for Change (2008), and the report of the working group on congregated settings, Time to Move on from Congregated Settings (2011). In 2016, under Rebuilding Ireland the Strategy was extended to allow it to continue to achieve its aims.

The Strategy has nine Strategic Aims including a key measure which was the establishment in each local authority area of Housing and Disability Steering Groups (HDSGs). The Steering Groups are the most critical fora in which people with disabilities can influence the delivery of housing in their local areas and includes representatives of key disability organisations as well as the local authority, the Health Service Executive (HSE) and the voluntary housing sector. The Groups are tasked with the preparation of a Strategic Plan for delivering housing for people with a disability in their areas by identifying current need as informed by the local authority Housing Waiting Lists, the emerging need over the currency of the Plans and the setting of targets for delivery under each of the social housing solutions available. The Strategic Plans which form a part of the local authority Housing Services Plans provide the local authority and other housing providers with information that helps to inform and guide the provision of suitable housing options for people with a disability over the five-year period of the Plan. As a number of these Plans date from 2016 they will be reviewed in 2021. The Housing Agency supports local authorities in the operation of the Steering Groups and provides training to the membership of the Groups to ensure that they fulfil their role as envisaged in the NHSPWD.

At national level the Housing Agency drives the Strategy primarily through its Housing Subgroup which was established to support the effective implementation of the Strategy and to facilitate a uniformity of approach at local level. The membership of the Group includes representatives of disability organisations who input into the annual work plan of the Group. Since 2011 the Group has been involved in a number of initiatives under the Strategy including the putting in place of a project for the transfer of people with a low-to-medium mental health need from HSE care to community living with supports. In addition, the Group was centrally involved in the drafting in 2014, and the revision in 2017 of the National Guidelines for the Assessment and Allocation Process for Social Housing Provision for People with a Disability which are an invaluable tool for local authorities in the assessment of housing applications from people with a disability and could not have been completed without the input of people with disabilities.

People with disabilities are also represented on my Department's Implementation Monitoring Group for the National Housing Strategy for People with a Disability which reports annually on progress under the Strategy and are also represented on a Disability Consultative Committee chaired by my Department which monitors progress in my Department on the Actions in the National Disability Inclusion Strategy, which includes housing for people with a disability.

The National Housing Strategy for People with a Disability will be reviewed in 2021. The Advisory Group will include representatives from the disability groups and part of the work of the Group will be to ensure that the voices of people with a disability are heard effectively in relation to housing provision.

Homelessness Strategy

 212. Deputy Cian O'Callaghan Information on Cian O'Callaghan Zoom on Cian O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien the accessibility of existing homeless services for persons with disabilities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35993/20]

 217. Deputy Cian O'Callaghan Information on Cian O'Callaghan Zoom on Cian O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien if he will commission an independent review of homeless services in order to ensure they are meeting the required standards; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36079/20]

Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage (Deputy Darragh O'Brien): Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien I propose to take Questions Nos. 212 and 217 together.

My Department’s role in relation to homelessness involves the provision of a national framework of policy, legislation and funding to underpin the statutory role of local authorities in addressing homelessness at local level. Statutory responsibility in relation to the provision of accommodation and related services for homeless persons rests with individual housing authorities.

The National Quality Standards Framework (NQSF) for homeless services has been developed to ensure a consistent approach in how local authorities and service providers respond to the needs of those experiencing homelessness and to improve the quality of services provided. In general, the operation of emergency accommodation facilities is contracted out by local authorities, under service level agreements, to NGO partners involved in the delivery of homeless services.

Monitoring and inspection of services is an important element of the Framework, and are a matter for the individual local authorities. This Framework is consistent with Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) standards and seeks to ensure a minimum level of quality in the provision of temporary accommodation and related services for homeless persons. The standards give service providers a framework for continuous quality improvement in their services and include provisions concerning the accessibility of buildings to service users with common physical or sensory disabilities.

My Department monitors the provision of homeless services on an ongoing basis, and the regional lead local authorities likewise undertake monitoring and review activities to assure that services are operating effectively.

Social and Affordable Housing

 213. Deputy Matt Carthy Information on Matt Carthy Zoom on Matt Carthy asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien the level of funding under the affordable housing scheme that will be allocated to County Monaghan in 2021; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35994/20]

Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage (Deputy Darragh O'Brien): Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien In Budget 2021, the total funding being made available for the delivery of housing programmes was €3.3 billion. From this sum, €468 million will be specifically provided to support housing affordability measures. This includes the Serviced Sites Fund, the Local Infrastructure Housing Activation Fund, the Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan and the Land Development Agency (LDA).

  €50 million will be allocated for the Serviced Sites Fund (SSF) in 2021. The purpose of the SSF to provide infrastructure to support the delivery of more affordable new homes for purchase or rent in those areas where local authorities have identified an affordability challenge and the viability to deliver homes and below open market purchase prices. The SSF is specifically targeted at those local authorities where an affordability challenge had been clearly identified and where the provision of affordable homes is economically viable. Informed by the affordability and median price of new homes for First Time Buyers in Monaghan, which currently is approximately €200,000, at present County Mongahan does not have active SSF projects.

  In addition to the Services Sites Fund, Budget 2021 ring fenced €75 million for a new national Affordable Purchase Shared Equity Scheme. I intend to target the scheme at first time buyers, who are seeking to buy a new home but who cannot quite secure the full mortgage amount to do so at the present time. Subject to the final qualifying criteria, the scheme would see the State take a limited equity stake in a property, in order to help more people meet the cost of buying a new home with their available mortgage. To this end, significant preparatory work has already been carried out by my Department working primarily with the Housing Agency and the Department of Finance. I intend to introduce this scheme in 2021 and intensive engagement continues with key stakeholders to inform the final detailed parameters of the scheme, as well as with home builders to seek to increase the output of new homes in response to the new scheme.

  Other measures such as the Help to Buy Scheme and the Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan are also available to eligible purchasers nationally to make home ownership more affordable.   As part of the €7 billion July stimulus plan, an enhanced version of the Help-to-Buy scheme was announced. This will allow first-time buyers purchasing a newly-built home – or building one themselves – to claim back up to €30,000 paid in income tax and DIRT on bank deposit interest over the last four years. Full details of the Help to Buy initiative are available at www.revenue.ie/en/property/help-to-buy-incentive/index.aspx.

  The Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan is a Government-backed mortgage which is for first-time-buyers nationwide to purchase a new or second-hand home or to self-build. This scheme offers loans on competitive terms to those who are unable to secure a commercial bank loan. Full details of the scheme are available at http://rebuildingirelandhomeloan.ie.

Local Authority Housing

 214. Deputy Matt Carthy Information on Matt Carthy Zoom on Matt Carthy asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien the income limits that apply in respect of local authority housing applications by county; his plans to increase these limits; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35995/20]

Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage (Deputy Darragh O'Brien): Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien 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.

The 2011 Regulations 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.

Under the Household Means Policy, which applies in all local authorities, net income for social housing assessment is defined as gross household income less income tax, PRSI, Universal Social Charge and Pension-Related Deductions within the meaning of Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Act 2009. The Policy provides for a range of income disregards, and local authorities also have discretion to decide to disregard income that is temporary, short-term or once-off in nature.

A table setting out the details of the three bands and the limits currently applicable in each local authority area is available on my Department's website at the following link: www.housing.gov.ie/housing/social-housing/other/social-housing-support-table-income-limits.

The income bands are expressed in terms of a maximum net income threshold for a single-person household, with an allowance of 5% for each additional adult household member, subject to a maximum allowance under this category of 10%; and 2.5% for each child, subject to a maximum allowance under this category of 10%.

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 in 2011 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.

Given the cost to the State of providing social housing, it is considered prudent and fair to direct resources to those most in need of social housing support. The current income eligibility requirements generally achieve this, providing for a fair and equitable system of identifying those households facing the greatest challenge in meeting their accommodation needs from their own resources.

However, as part of the broader social housing reform agenda, a review of income eligibility for social housing supports in each local authority area is underway. The review will have regard to current initiatives being brought forward in terms of affordability and cost rental and will be completed when the impacts of these parallel initiatives have been considered.


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