Thursday, 23 July 2020
Department of Housing, Planning, and Local Government
Local Authority Housing
31. To ask the Minister for Housing, Planning, and Local Government his plans to extend the vacant properties voids programme beyond 2020 in view of the negative impact that Covid-19 will have on local authority budgets going forward; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17635/20]
43. To ask the Minister for Housing, Planning, and Local Government when local authorities will be invited to submit applications for funding under the vacant properties voids programme for 2020; and when funding will issue in respect of these applications. [17634/20]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 31, 38 and 43 together.
The management and maintenance of local authority housing stock, including pre-letting repairs to vacant properties, the implementation of a planned maintenance programme and carrying out of responsive repairs, are matters for each individual local authority under Section 58 of the Housing Act 1966.
Since 2014, Exchequer funding has also been provided through my Department's Voids Programme to support local authorities in preparing vacant units for re-letting. This funding was initially introduced to tackle long term vacant units and is now increasingly targeted at ensuring minimal turnaround and re-let times for local authority vacant stock. During 2019, expenditure of some €26.6 million was recouped to local authorities under the Voids Programme, returning 1,503 units to use.
There is a two stage process for allocations under the Voids Programme for 2020. Firstly, on 26 May, there was an initial call for proposals for COVID-19 Voids funding for vacant units which were required for the emergency accommodation of qualified households arising from the need to prevent, limit, minimise or slow the spread of COVID-19. My Department has approved funding of €4.8 million to support this programme which will return 475 units to productive use. I understand that the majority of works approved under this element of the programme are now complete.
A second call for proposals, under the non-Covid voids programme, will issue shortly.
Over the longer term, my Department is working with local authorities, through the City and County Management Association, to transition to a planned maintenance/asset management approach.