Tuesday, 25 May 2021
Department of Housing, Planning, and Local Government
259. To ask the Minister for Housing, Planning, and Local Government the current average wait time to be accepted on to the housing list in each county; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27614/21]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 259 and 260 together.
Details on the number of households qualified for social housing support in each local authority area is provided in the annual statutory Summary of Social Housing Assessments (SSHA).
The most recent summary, conducted in November 2020, shows that 61,880 households were assessed as qualified for and being in need of social housing support. This represents a decrease of 6,813 households or 9.9% on the last assessment in June 2019. Since 2016, the numbers have decreased from 91,600 to 61,880, a reduction of 32.4%.
Below is the link to the summary report for 2020 which includes breakdowns by each local authority across a range of categories.
With respect to the expected wait time on the housing list in each county, my Department does not hold that information. However, Figure 2.8 and Table A1.8 provide details on the length of time households have been on the record of qualified households (the Waiting List).
In relation to the question posed by the Deputy regarding the current average wait time to be accepted on to the housing list in each county, information of this specific type is not held by my Department. However, Regulation 12 of the 2011 Regulations prescribes the timescales for the processing of applications by local authorities and provides that, subject to conditions, a local authority shall deal with an application within a period of 12 weeks. Local authorities will prioritise housing needs assessments for those in greatest need and ensure that such applications are dealt with within timeframes that are significantly shorter that the statutory maximum. Different timescales may apply where the local authority requires additional information from the applicant within the relevant period, as defined in the Regulations, thus leading to possible extensions to the 12 week deadline in terms of completing the application process.
261. To ask the Minister for Housing, Planning, and Local Government if his attention has been drawn to the particular challenges in relation to accessing housing that those whose marriage or long term relationship has ended are experiencing; his plans to address these issues; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27616/21]
Applications for social housing support are assessed by the relevant local authority, in accordance with the eligibility and need criteria set down in section 20 of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009 and the associated Social Housing Assessment Regulations 2011, as amended.
Under Section 20 of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009 and Regulation 22(1) of the Social Housing Assessment Regulations 2011, a household shall be ineligible for social housing support if it has alternative accommodation that the household could reasonably be expected to use to meet its housing need, either by occupying it or by selling the accommodation and using the proceeds to secure suitable accommodation suitable for the household’s adequate housing.
However, Regulation 22(2) of the 2011 Regulations provides that this ineligibility does not apply where an applicant for social housing support owns accommodation that is occupied by his or her spouse, from whom he or she is formally separated or divorced. Under the enactment, a deed of separation is sufficient to set aside this ineligibility ground and it is not necessary to await judicial separation or divorce to get a decision on social housing support in these cases. The rationale for this exception is that the terms of a formal separation or divorce will provide for the future ownership and occupation of the family home and it will be clear whether the household that has left the family home can return to live there.
In order to provide more flexibility to housing authorities to deal with cases where the ownership of the family home had not yet been finalised, the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2014 amended section 20 of the 2009 Act. Housing authorities may now provide such households with social housing support under the Rental Accommodation Scheme or the Housing Assistance Payment scheme until ownership of the family home is resolved in a formal separation or divorce settlement.
The 2014 Act amendment provides that support in these circumstances will be reviewed by the local authority at prescribed intervals and the household will not be able to transfer to other forms of social housing support while ownership of the family home remains to be determined. However, where the household ultimately qualifies for the full range of social housing supports, the length of time the household was supported under RAS or HAP will be reckonable for the purposes of determining the household’s relative priority for a transfer.
262. To ask the Minister for Housing, Planning, and Local Government the number of persons on the housing list for County Kildare approved for HAP but not in receipt of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27617/21]
HAP is a form of social housing support for people who have a long-term housing need. In order for a household to qualify for HAP, they must first be assessed as eligible for social housing support by their local authority. Any household assessed as eligible for social housing is immediately eligible for HAP and those households must source their own accommodation in the private rental sector. At the end of Q4 2020, Kildare had 2,398 households in receipt of HAP.
Details on the number of households qualified for social housing support in each local authority area is provided in the annual statutory Summary of Social Housing Assessments (SSHA). Full details in relation to the 2020 assessment are available on my Department's website at the following link: www.gov.ie/en/collection/62486-summary-of-social-housing-assessments/. The SSHA 2020 shows that there were 3,104 households on the Kildare County Council social housing waiting list at 2 November 2020.
Legislation provides that HAP is considered to be a form of social housing support. Households in receipt of HAP are therefore, not eligible to remain on the main housing waiting list. However, acknowledging that some households on the waiting list, who avail of HAP, have expectations that they would receive a more traditional form of social housing support, recipients can avail of a move to other forms of social housing through a transfer list.
For those households on a housing waiting list, the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009 requires that all housing authorities make an allocation scheme determining the order of priority to be accorded in the allocation of dwellings to households qualified for social housing support and to households approved for a transfer.
The practical operation of transfer lists is a matter for each local authority to manage, on the basis of their own scheme of letting priorities, and the number of persons on the housing transfer list is also a matter for each individual local authority.