The plans to review the administrative support given to regional assemblies in view of their role in the National Planning Framework
To ask the Minister for Housing; Planning and Local Government his plans to review the administrative support given to regional assemblies in view of their role in the National Planning Framework; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
To ask the Minister for Housing; Planning and Local Government his plans to review the administrative support provided to the regional assemblies in view of their role under the national planning framework; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
The three Regional Assemblies were established further to the Local Government Reform Act 2014 and comprise representation from the constituent local authorities in the Eastern and Midland (Dublin, the Mid-East and Midlands), Northern and Western (North-West, West and Border) and Southern (Mid-West, South-West and South-East) regions. The requisite staffing structure was formalised for each of the three Regional Assemblies to administer and carry out their functions.
Implementation of Project Ireland 2040 will be progressed at the regional level by the three Regional Assemblies who have responsibility for co-ordinating, promoting and supporting the strategic planning and sustainable development of their regions, consistent with the objectives of the National Planning Framework (NPF), through the preparation of Regional Spatial and Economic Strategies (RSES). Recognising the critical role that the Regional Assemblies have in the ongoing implementation of the NPF, my Department has been engaging with the three Assemblies on an ongoing basis throughout the formulation and publication of the NPF and preparations of the corresponding RSES.
I am confident that the Assemblies are currently adequately equipped to fulfill their role in the RSES process, and in the general implementation process of the NPF at the regional and local levels, in consultation with my Department, the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, and local authorities, supported by the dissemination of any further advice and guidance as required. However, I will keep the matter under regular review.
To ask the Minister for Housing; Planning and Local Government the position regarding the situation whereby pensioners cannot purchase their homes under the tenant purchase scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
- Eamon Scanlon T.D.
To ask the Minister for Housing; Planning and Local Government when the new tenant purchase scheme will be launched; the mortgage approval process regarding same; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
- Darragh O'Brien T.D.
The Tenant (Incremental) Purchase Scheme came into operation on 1 January 2016. The Scheme is open to eligible tenants, including joint tenants, of local authority houses that are available for sale under the Scheme. To be eligible, tenants must meet certain criteria, including having a minimum reckonable income of €15,000 per annum and having been in receipt of social housing support for at least one year.
The minimum reckonable income for eligibility under the scheme is determined by the relevant local authority in accordance with the detailed provisions of the Ministerial Direction issued under Sections 24(3) and (4) of the 2014 Act. In the determination of the minimum reckonable income, local authorities include income from a number of different sources and classes, such as from employment, private pensions, maintenance payments and certain social welfare payments, including pensions, where the social welfare payment is secondary to employment income.
In determining reckonable income, the income of all tenants of the house, including adult children that are joint tenants, is included, as is the income of the spouse, civil partner or other partner / co-habitant of a tenant who lives in the house with them, thus ensuring the appropriate level of discount is applied to the purchase price.
The minimum income criterion was introduced in order to ensure the sustainability of the scheme. Applicants must demonstrate that they have an income that is long-term and sustainable in nature. This ensures that the tenant purchasing the house is in a financial position, as the owner, to maintain and insure the property for the duration of the charged period, in compliance with the conditions of the order transferring the ownership of, and responsibility for, the house from the local authority to the tenant.
The financing of any house sold under the Tenant (Incremental) Purchase Scheme is a separate matter from the eligibility criteria for the scheme. If the tenant is deemed eligible under the scheme, he or she may fund the purchase of a house from one, or a combination, of his / her own resources or a mortgage provided by a financial institution or a local authority house purchase loan.
In line with the commitment given in Rebuilding Ireland, a review of the first 12 months of the Tenant Purchase Scheme’s operation has been undertaken. The review has incorporated analysis of comprehensive data received from local authorities regarding the operation of the scheme during 2016 and a wide-ranging public consultation process which took place in 2017 and saw submissions received from individuals, elected representatives and organisations.
The review is now complete and a full report has been prepared setting out findings and recommendations. In finalising the report some further consultation was necessary and due consideration had to be given to possible implementation arrangements.
These matters are now almost completed and I expect to be in a position to publish the outcome of the review shortly.
To ask the Minister for Housing; Planning and Local Government the income criteria for the cost rental pilot projects being undertaken; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Against the background of the affordability pressures which currently exist in the rental market, the Government is determined to make cost rental a major part of the Irish housing system, similar to the role it plays in many other European countries. Under this approach, rents are set at levels to recover the construction costs and to facilitate the management and administration of developments, but with only a minimal profit margin included.
A pilot project is currently being progressed by Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council, at Enniskerry Road in Dundrum, in conjunction with the Housing Agency and Approved Housing Bodies, using land owned by the Agency.
Learning from the initial experiences in the pilot scheme, my Department is working with the European Investment Bank and other key stakeholders with a view to developing the first major cost rental project in Dublin city. Initial feasibility analysis is underway with a view to identifying a major project for immediate progression, with a broader programme of cost rental projects across Dublin and other cities to follow.
I announced new measures in January of this year that are specifically targeted at delivering more affordable homes to households generally with maximum income of €50,000 for single applicants and €75,000 for joint applicants. The income criteria for access to a cost rental scheme will take into account the broader policy development on affordable housing.
Monthly homeless reports
To ask the Minister for Housing; Planning and Local Government the councils that miscategorised persons in monthly homeless reports; the months on which persons were wrongly included; the number of persons in each of these months in this regard; when the persons were removed; the reason his Department did not catch this earlier; the adjusted figures for each month in which there was a miscategorisation; if the March 2018 figures contain a real increase or decrease on previous months based on the adjusted figures; and if he will continue to publish the figures on a monthly basis.
- Eoin Ó Broin T.D.
To ask the Minister for Housing; Planning and Local Government his plans for changes to the count mechanism for homeless numbers; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
- Darragh O'Brien T.D.
My Department currently publishes data on a monthly basis on the number of homeless persons accommodated in emergency accommodation funded and overseen by housing authorities. These reports are based on data provided by housing authorities, produced through the Pathway Accommodation & Support System (PASS). The reports are collated on a regional basis.
During the compilation of the March Homeless Report, in the course of examining data from local authorities, my Department established that a number of local authorities had miscategorised individuals accommodated in houses and apartments, owned or leased by the local authorities, including in some instances people renting in the private rented sector but in receipt of social housing supports, as being in emergency accommodation. As these issues have not yet been fully addressed, I am not in a position to provide a complete account of the extent of such practices. My Department is writing to local authorities as part of its continuing examination of the matter.
However, I can say that a total of 247 adults and 331 associated dependents, residing in houses and apartments, were categorised as being in emergency accommodation in the Dublin, South- West, Mid-West, North-East and South-East Regions. These categorisations were corrected prior to the publication of the March report. I flagged the issue that had arisen very clearly when publishing the March figures and was also clear that the figures would have been higher had the corrections I referred to not been made. We do not yet know the trend month on month, beyond certain indicators such as the rate of presentations of families in Dublin being down almost 50%. We also know that there are further mis-categorisations in the system still to be worked out.
My priority as Minister is to ensure that families and individuals are moved from emergency accommodation, such as hostels, hotels and family hubs, into housing. I am satisfied that individuals and families who are being accommodated in publicly funded houses or apartments, whether it be social housing or homes leased from the private rented sector, should not be considered as living in emergency accommodation.
The issues which have emerged indicate clearly to me that we need improved reporting in this area in order to accurately reflect the numbers of households in emergency accommodation so that we can measure our progress and target our further policies and actions. My Department is examining the current reporting arrangements with a view to ensuring that the best possible data is available to support policy making. No decision has been taken on
The amount drawn down under the Local Infrastructure Housing Activation Fund per annum to date
To ask the Minister for Housing; Planning and Local Government the amount drawn down under the Local Infrastructure Housing Activation Fund per annum to date; the number of affordable homes built; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
The purpose of the Local Infrastructure Housing Activation Fund is to relieve key infrastructural blockages for the delivery of housing at scale. I have approved 30 infrastructure projects under the Fund at a cost of around €195 million, with an associated housing delivery of 20,000 units by 2021 and more will follow as the sites are fully built out.
The total LIHAF funds drawn down in 2017 amounted to €1.6 million. My Department is currently examining drawdown requests for Q1 this year.
The low level of draw-down reflects the stages that the infrastructure projects were at, where most were in the design, planning and tendering phases where costs are lower than at construction stage. I therefore expect a major increase in draw-down as local authorities move projects to construction.
While there was an underspend in 2017, funding for LIHAF is ring-fenced within the overall multi-annual housing budget. The LIHAF underspend in 2017 was diverted to other housing activities, ensuring that the funding available was fully applied to housing priorities; the underspend will be made good according as projects are advanced in 2018 and 2019.
LIHAF associated housing will start coming on stream as we progress the infrastructure; some sites will deliver housing in tandem with the infrastructure but other sites will require the infrastructure to be in place to allow proper access.
While I am anxious for the infrastructure and the housing to be delivered as fast as possible, I recognise that local authorities must observe proper design, planning and tendering procedures. My Department will continue to monitor progress on these sites and ensure that every effort is made to secure the timely delivery of the infrastructure and housing involved.
To ask the Minister for Housing; Planning and Local Government his plans to extend the rent pressure zones to student accomodation; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Rent Pressure Zones have their legal basis under the Residential Tenancies Acts 2004-2016. This legislation regulates the landlord-tenant relationship in the private rented residential sector. Pursuant to section 3(1), the Acts apply to every dwelling that is the subject of a tenancy. The provisions of the Acts, including those provisions providing for the rent pressure zone measure, does not apply where the dwelling is occupied by a person under an agreement which is not a tenancy agreement.
Licensing agreements, such as those that apply in respect of some types of student accommodation, are not covered by the legislative protections of the Residential Tenancies Acts because they are not deemed to be tenancy agreements for the purposes of the Acts. Consequently, the restrictions on rental increases in Rent Pressure Zones, provided for in the Acts, do not therefore apply to accommodation types that are not subject to tenancy agreement.
Publication of homeless figures
To ask the Minister for Housing; Planning and Local Government if his Department will continue to publish monthly homeless figures; and his plans to amend this to quarterly or other less frequent publications.
- Eoin Ó Broin T.D.
To ask the Minister for Housing; Planning and Local Government the data publication schedule of homeless figures; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
- Darragh O'Brien T.D.
To ask the Minister for Housing; Planning and Local Government his plans to change the data publication schedule of homeless figures; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
- Darragh O'Brien T.D.
My Department currently publishes data on a monthly basis on the number of homeless persons accommodated in emergency accommodation funded and overseen by housing authorities. These reports are based on data provided by housing authorities, produced through the Pathway Accommodation and Support System (PASS), and are published in the month subsequent to the reporting period in question.
My Department is examining the current reporting arrangements with a view to ensuring that the best possible data is available to support policy making. No decision has been taken on amending the reporting arrangements at this time.
The number of social housing units delivered in each of the years 2015 to 2017, by local authority
To ask the Minister for Housing; Planning and Local Government the number of social housing units delivered in each of the years 2015 to 2017, by local authority; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
To ask the Minister for Housing; Planning and Local Government the number of social housing units delivered in each of the years 2015 to 2017, by county; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
To ask the Minister for Housing; Planning and Local Government the number of social housing units planned for delivery in 2018, by local authority and county; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Detailed data in relation to social housing delivery by each local authority, for the years 2015 to 2017, is available on my Department's website at the following link:
In 2018, more than 25,000 additional households will have their housing need met, including through the Housing Assistance Payment Scheme and the Rental Accommodation Scheme. In this regard, I recently wrote to all local authorities setting out their individual social housing targets across build, acquisition and leasing for 2018 and also for 2018-2021. Details of these are available on the Rebuilding Ireland website at the following link:
Rebuilding Ireland, together with initiatives announced on foot of the targeted review of progress which was undertaken last year, as well as additional measures announced under Budget 2018, provides a robust framework for addressing the housing and homelessness challenges we face. My Department's focus, and that of all delivery agents, will remain on implementation and delivery to ensure that the range of objectives and targets set are achieved. A wide range of delivery mechanisms and a funding commitment of €6 billion over the lifetime of Rebuilding Ireland have been put in place to support the achievement of these targets.
In terms of setting and publishing targets for 2018 and 2018-2021, I want to drive transparency and also accountability at local authority level. Rebuilding Ireland is modelled on blended delivery across the main programmes of build, acquisition and leasing. While it is recognised that the pace of delivery, particularly under build activity, may vary from local authority to local authority, the range of delivery options available, combined with the support structures outlined, provide the necessary resources for local authorities and I expect all stakeholders to be fully mobilised towards meeting the target for 2018, and subsequent years.
In respect of build targets for 2018, a strong pipeline is already in place for local authorities and Approved Housing Bodies to deliver on these targets. The 2018 build target is for the delivery of 4,969 additional social housing homes, including 3,819 local authority and Approved Housing Body build units. The Quarter 4 2017 Construction Status Report, available on the Rebuilding Ireland website at the link below, provides project detail on the existing pipeline in place, which will support the delivery against this target. The report is based on activity up to end 2017 and, over the course of the first quarter of 2018, further projects will have been moving through from approval to on-site, with additional projects also being added to the pipeline. These will be reflected in the next quarterly report.
My Department will continue to work with local authorities to maximise delivery and also harness appropriate opportunities to deliver on additional build units in 2018, including through turnkey schemes.
The number of support staff directly employed or seconded to each regional assembly in each of the years 2014 to 2017 and to date in 2018
To ask the Minister for Housing; Planning and Local Government the number of support staff directly employed or seconded to each regional assembly in each of the years 2014 to 2017 and to date in 2018; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
My Department is responsible for workforce planning for the local government sector, including the monitoring of regional assemblies employment levels. To this end, my Department gathers quarterly data on staff numbers in regional assemblies; however, the data gathered does not provide details in terms of the number of support staff directly employed or seconded to each assembly. Accordingly, the information requested is not available in my Department but may be obtained directly from the regional assemblies.
The total number of staff employed in each regional assembly for the years 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017 is set out below. Figures for the first quarter of 2018 are being collected at present. In 2014 there were two regional assemblies, (1) Border, Midland and Western and (2) Southern and Eastern, which were dissolved and replaced in 2015 by 3 new Regional Assemblies, namely (1) Eastern and Midlands, (2) Northern and Western and (3) Southern.
The number of staff engaged in the coordination and monitoring unit to assist local authorities and regional assemblies
To ask the Minister for Housing; Planning and Local Government the number of staff engaged in the coordination and monitoring unit to assist local authorities and regional assemblies in the development of the housing needs demand assessment; the anticipated number by the end of 2018; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
The National Planning Framework (NPF), published by Government in February 2018 under Project Ireland 2040, provides for a Housing Need Demand Assessment (HNDA) to be developed by each local authority, in a co-ordinated fashion, to support the preparation of wider statutory housing and core strategies as part of the relevant local authority development plans.
The HDNA approach is envisaged as a refinement of the existing processes as set out above and therefore does not require any new co-ordination and monitoring unit as suggested. The HNDA is to be undertaken by local authorities, with coordination through the Regional Assemblies, to ensure an effective response to cross-authority and assembly matters, for example in relation to metropolitan areas where city regions straddle two or more local authority areas. Building on their past experience in developing housing strategies and core strategies, local authorities will develop the new HDNA approach, drawing upon information on demographic, affordability and wider economic trends, coupled to the profile of the existing housing stock and its management.
Recognising the critical role that the local government sector will have in the ongoing implementation of the NPF, including the preparation of the HNDA, my Department has engaged in a series of workshops in recent weeks to ensure that the local authorities are fully informed and prepared in embarking on the HDNA process. I expect that this process will continue in the normal course, supported by the dissemination of any further advice and guidance as required.
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