Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees
Tuesday, 17 January 2023
Joint Oireachtas Committee on Housing, Planning and Local Government
Local Government Performance Indicators and Public Spending Code: National Oversight and Audit Commission
Thomas Gould (Cork North Central, Sinn Fein) | Oireachtas source
I got information through a parliamentary question, and the Minister said this, is that they are now thinking of moving away from this. They are looking at a situation whereby they will not need to do the voids or to put money towards vacant houses because the local authorities will get to a stage of doing preventative maintenance. The housing stock will be so good that the big money that would be needed to get a vacant property out of vacancy will not be needed. To me, that is completely unrealistic of the Minister and of the Department. Somewhere like Cork has 11,000 council houses, which is one of the biggest figures in the State. If they do not have the money to carry out preventative maintenance or even necessary maintenance, then we will not get to that point.
I am now speaking to tenants. The information and the report that NOAC is putting together are very important, but I would like to see more. I would even like to see NOAC having extra powers. I would like to see NOAC in a position where it can sit down with local authorities. Mr. McCarthy mentioned the word "encourage" earlier. If you encourage someone to do something and they still will not do it, or if they still do not achieve the figures or results that they should achieve, then you need someone to come in and say, “Well you have to do it”, or, “We have to put in changes”. I would like to see NOAC develop more. It has the information. That is one aspect of trying to provide solutions; one needs the data. NOAC has the data and it can see where the problems are. I would like to see it go a step further.
We mentioned dereliction and part of the NOAC report relates to derelict sites. It reports the information that the local authorities give to it on dereliction. However, anyone on the ground knows that those figures are not true because local authorities are not listing every derelict site. They are not putting pressure on to collect the derelict sites levy. I put it to Mr. McCarthy that we know that local authorities are not recording all the derelict sites, but they are producing a report. That report is then used by people who think that the information is correct, but it is not. What can we do to deal with that and to get local authorities to make sure that every site is on the register?