Tuesday, 11 July 2017
Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government
Housing for People with Disabilities Provision
789. To ask the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government if he will consider designating a specific number of new social housing builds specifically as fully wheelchair accessible; if a cost benefit analysis has been carried out against adapting existing stock; if so, the outcome of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32062/17]
802. To ask the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government the actions that have been implemented to date as a result of the framework laid out in the national housing strategy for persons with a disability (details supplied); the length of time this strategy will be extended to; the persons or organisations that make up the implementation monitoring group; and the number of times this group has met since it was established. [32359/17]
809. To ask the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government the access guidelines for persons with disabilities in place for local authorities in relation to the provision of part 5 or part 8 local authority houses. [32370/17]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 789, 802 and 803 together.
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 and congregated settings report. Building on the Programme for a Partnership Government commitment to meet the housing needs of people with disabilities, the NHSPWD has been extended to 2020 to continue to deliver on its aims.
Implementation of identified actions in the NHSPWD is being driven primarily by the Housing Agency by means of a dedicated sub-group comprising representatives from my Department, the Health Service Executive (HSE), Department of Health, local authorities, the Irish Council for Social Housing and various disability representative organisations. The Housing subgroup, established in 2012, is progressing a range of priority actions and will continue to progress this work under the extended timeframe. An Implementation Monitoring Group (IMG) was established in 2012 to monitor and report on progress, and has met on ten occasions since then with a further meeting scheduled for October. Three progress reports on implementation covering the period September 2012 to December 2016, have been published by the IMG to date. These comprehensive reports are available on my Department’s website at the following link:
The IMG is chaired by a senior official of my Department and comprises representatives from relevant Government Departments and agencies and disability organisations: details of current IMG members are set out in Appendix 1 of the Third Progress Report available at the above link.
One of the key measures achieved in 2016 under the NHSPWD was the establishment of Housing and Disability Steering Groups (HDSGs) in allhousing authorities, to achieve a coordinated and integrated approach to meeting the housing needs of people with a disability at local level. These are chaired by Directors of Housing in each authority and include HSE and disability representative organisations. Each HDSG has prepared a local Strategic Plan for its own City/County area, to develop specific local strategies to meet identified and emerging need over the next five years. These Plans, along with the annual Summary of Social Housing Assessments, will allow local authorities to plan more strategically for the housing needs of people with a disability and will support the delivery of accommodation using all appropriate housing supply mechanisms. This is a more targeted and responsive way to meet actual need identified rather than, for example, designating a specific number of new social housing builds that are fully wheelchair accessible.
My Department provides funding under three separate schemes for necessary adaptations, repairs or improvement works to the houses of people with disabilities and older people in order to make their accommodation more suitable for their needs, and to facilitate the continued occupancy of their own home for as long as possible. There is a strong social benefit accruing from this funding in terms of supporting older people, and people with a disability, to continue to live independently in their own homes and, in some cases, to avoid an outcome where people may otherwise require social housing. In 2016, funding totalled €56.25m and 8,010 households benefitted from the grants. In 2017, €59.8m is available under this scheme and the target is to reach 10,000 homes.
In addition to funding for adaptation works to existing dwellings, my Department’s Capital Assistance Scheme (CAS) funds up to 100% of project costs advanced by local authorities to Approved Housing Bodies (AHBs) to provide accommodation for people with specific categories of need, including people with disabilities. A provision of €66 million is available for the scheme this year.
All new buildings, including social housing units, must comply with the legally enforceable minimum performance standards set out in the Building Regulations 1997 - 2017. In this regard, theBuilding Regulations (Part M Amendment) Regulations 2010,and the accompanying (2010), which came into effect on 1 January 2012, set out the minimum statutory requirements applicable to new buildings, and to existing buildings where new works, a material alteration or a material change of use is proposed.
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 concept of Universal Design centres on achieving a built environment that may be accessed, understood and used to the greatest extent possible by all people, regardless of their age, size or disability.