Thursday, 5 March 2020
Department of Housing, Planning, and Local Government
Urban Regeneration and Development Fund
1194. To ask the Minister for Housing, Planning, and Local Government if he will review the tenant incremental purchase scheme and the €15,000 minimum income requirement to avail of the scheme due to the significant number of persons who are being denied the scheme albeit living in the homes for decades in some cases; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2774/20]
1244. To ask the Minister for Housing, Planning, and Local Government the status of the review of the first 12 months of the tenant purchase incremental scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3538/20]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 1194 and 1244 together.
The Tenant (Incremental) Purchase Scheme which came into operation on 1 January 2016 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 the Government's Rebuilding Ireland Action Plan on Housing and Homelessness, a review of the operation of the first 12 months of the Tenant Purchase (Incremental) Scheme has been recently finalised and a full report has been prepared setting out findings and recommendations.
This issue is part of a significant body of work undertaken in my Department in relation to the broader social housing reform agenda. I expect that the review will be published once all the work on these reform measures are completed.
1195. To ask the Minister for Housing, Planning, and Local Government if an application has been received from Louth County Council in relation to funding for the proposed northern port access route in Drogheda, County Louth; the criteria against which the application will be assessed; when a decision is due on the application; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2811/20]
The Urban Regeneration and Development Fund (URDF) is a flagship element of Project Ireland 2040. The URDF was established to support more compact and sustainable development, through the regeneration and rejuvenation of Ireland’s five cities and other large towns, in line with the objectives of the National Planning Framework and NDP. This is to enable a greater proportion of residential and mixed-use development to be delivered within the existing built-up footprints of our cities and towns and to ensure that more parts of our urban areas can become attractive and vibrant places in which people choose to live and work, as well as to invest and to visit.
Through the Fund, successful applicants are being offered targeted integrated support for applicant-led projects that will contribute to the regeneration and rejuvenation of our cities and towns.
Under the URDF in 2018 Louth County Council submitted a number of proposals, including an application for the Northern Cross Route. The application process was competitive and heavily oversubscribed with some 189 applications. All proposals were assessed a Project Advisory Board, consisting of representatives from my Department, other relevant Government Departments, agency representation and independent national and international expert representatives. Following this process, on 26 November 2018, I announced initial URDF support of €100m for a total of 88 projects throughout the country. The Northern Cross Project was not successful on that occasion.
A second call for proposals under the URDF was announced on 11 January 2019. In the context of the second call it will be a matter for Louth County Council to consider the projects it may wish to submit for consideration and whether, taking account of feedback on the original Northern Cross Route proposal, it should submit a revised proposal.
The application form for URDF Call 2 and related information, including assessment criteria, is available on the Gov.ie website at the following link:
The closing date for applications is 12 noon 31 March 2020.