Dáil Éireann - Volume 654 - 14 May, 2008

Written Answers. - Local Authority Housing.

Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the status of an application by Westmeath County Council to replace and renew a significant number of houses built as part of a low cost scheme in the early 1970s (details supplied) in County Westmeath; if, in view of the urgency attached to having new dwelling houses provided for the residents who have been patient in this regard, he will ensure that the appropriate financial allocation is made to the local authority to enable them to carry out this scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18734/08]

  Deputy John Gormley: The Council has already received funding of €1.1 million to undertake a pilot phase remedial [496] works scheme in this estate. This was completed in May 2007. A proposal to extend the pilot phase was received by the Department in March 2007. The proposal, however, did not address a number of issues that arose in the pilot phase and did not meet with public procurement policy. A letter to that effect issued from my Department in April 2007.

At the end of April 2008, my Department received a revised proposal from the Council and this is currently under consideration.

Deputy Tom Hayes asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the criteria for assessment and approval of Respond! and Clúid housing; if these houses are available for purchase by the tenant; if not, the reason this social housing scheme is different to other housing schemes; if tenants are made aware of this prior to acceptance of tenancy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18737/08]

  Deputy John Gormley: The provision of accommodation by approved voluntary and co-operative housing bodies is an integral part of my Department’s overall response to delivering on social housing need. Local authorities and approved housing bodies are working in close co-operation to deliver an expanded range of social housing options and a wide range of accommodation types to meet the needs of low-income families and persons with special housing needs.

Proposals for new voluntary housing schemes, including proposals from Respond! and Clúid housing associations, are assessed by the local authorities and my Department in accordance with the technical, financial and general terms and conditions of the Capital Funding Schemes as set out in Memorandum: VHU:2/02 and my Department’s social housing Best Practice Guidelines — Quality Housing for Sustainable Communities, details of which are available on my Department’s website at www.environ.ie. Only projects which comply with the terms of the funding schemes and which meet the local authority’s strategic housing objectives for delivering on need, are approved for funding.

There is no provision at present in the voluntary housing schemes for the purchase of individual houses by tenants and this would be communicated to potential tenants by approved housing bodies in the context of pre-tenancy meetings. However, the Government’s housing policy statement, Delivering Homes, Sustaining Communities, indicated that consideration would be given, in consultation with the voluntary and co-operative sector, to piloting a tenant purchase scheme for some new voluntary homes based on the incremental purchase model.

The Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill, which is expected to be published during the present Dáil session, will include provisions to give effect to the incremental purchase scheme. In parallel with this, arrangements for the introduction of a pilot scheme for the voluntary housing sector are being considered in consultation with the Irish Council for Social Housing.