Tuesday, 29 November 2016
Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government
Social and Affordable Housing Provision
268. To ask the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government if there are any legal restrictions that preclude the State from providing public housing in the form of long-term rental to all persons regardless of income. [37044/16]
269. To ask the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government the research that has been conducted by his Department into the possibility of the State providing affordable public housing in the form of long-term rental to all persons, regardless of income. [37045/16]
285. To ask the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government if he has considered revising upwards the income limits under which persons can apply for social housing, in view of the considerable rise in housing rents and the current Central Bank rules governing mortgage approval. [37333/16]
286. To ask the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government if he has considered changing the income limits for social housing for the area of the southern division of Cork County Council, in view of the fact that it is largely part of the same housing market as Cork city. [37334/16]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 268, 269, 285 and 286 together.
The overall strategic objective of Government housing policy is to enable all households to access good quality housing appropriate to their household circumstances and in sustainable communities of their choice. The main focus of social housing supports is on meeting the most acute housing needs among the population, within the resources available. Thus, State-funded housing supports will continue to be targeted at those people who are unable to provide for their accommodation from their own resources, as measured by their annual net income.
The Social Housing Assessment Regulations 2011 prescribe maximum net income limits for eligibility for social housing supports in each housing authority, in different bands according to the area, with income being defined and assessed according to a standard Household Means Policy.
The income bands and the authority area assigned to each band were based on an assessment of 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. The limits also reflect 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 and thereby promote sustainable communities.
I am satisfied that the current income limits generally provide for a fair and equitable system of identifying those households unable to provide accommodation from their own resources. However, these limits will continue to be kept under review by my Department, as part of the broader social housing reform agenda set out in the Social Housing Strategy 2020-Support, Supply and Reform and Rebuilding Ireland-Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness.
Action 4.6 of Rebuilding Ireland provides for the introduction of a new pilot affordable rental scheme to enhance the capacity of the private rented sector to provide quality and affordable accommodation for households currently paying a disproportionate amount of disposable income on rent. The objective of the scheme is to provide long-term affordable residential accommodation for low to moderate income key-worker households in urban areas of high demand and provide an economic incentive to increase supply of rental accommodation. Consideration of the pilot affordable rental scheme is being progressed within the context of the comprehensive strategy for the rental sector which is due for publication before the end of 2016. Consideration of relevant research in the field forms an inherent part of the development of the Strategy.
I am mindful that we need to consider every policy instrument at our disposal to tackle the many challenges in the housing market. In this context, I expect that the recently announced changes to the Central Bank rules governing mortgage lending will ease the burden on those trying to secure their own home for the first time.