Thursday, 16 December 2021
Department of Housing, Planning, and Local Government
323. To ask the Minister for Housing, Planning, and Local Government the reason only 50% funding is given for new and replacement caravans and mobile homes under the caravan loan scheme and other schemes to provide this type of accommodation for Travellers, particularly given the low rate of grant and the difficulty raising funds for the balance is being used by local authorities for the non-supply of urgently needed caravans for Traveller households; if he will consider raising this to 100% in view of the underspend of funds made available for Traveller specific funds in the past 25 years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [62596/21]
324. To ask the Minister for Housing, Planning, and Local Government the reason local authorities are allowed to purchase second-hand caravans and mobile homes under the caravan loan scheme and other schemes to provide this type of accommodation for Travellers; the reason it is not a condition of the scheme that only new caravans would be purchased under these schemes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [62597/21]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 323 and 324 together.
My Department’s role is to ensure that there are adequate structures and supports in place to assist local authorities in providing such accommodation, including a national framework of policy, legislation and funding.
It is my Department’s policy to provide permanent accommodation insofar as possible, while at the same time respecting the nomadic tradition of the Traveller community. Cognisant of emergencies which arise from time to time, which by their nature cannot be planned for or anticipated, my Department provides funding to local authorities of up to 50% to assist with the cost of purchase of emergency replacement mobile caravans.
My Department sought and received sanction from the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform to roll out a pilot Caravan Loan Scheme to improve access to traditional Traveller-specific accommodation options for Traveller families. My Department commenced the pilot scheme in July of 2021 for a trial period of 6 months, following consultation with stakeholders including the local authorities, the National Traveller MABS and the Traveller representative organisations.
The participating local authorities are Cork City Council, Dublin City Council, South Dublin County Council and Limerick City and County Council. The maximum funding available under the pilot Caravan Loan Scheme is €30,000 per loan. The terms of the Caravan Loan Scheme do not specify that units must be new or second hand, allowing the loan recipient the freedom to source a unit suitable to their needs.
When the pilot phase is complete, officials from my Department will review the operation of the pilot Caravan Loan Scheme with input from the local authorities and other stakeholders. A report will be prepared for the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform and options for the expansion of the pilot scheme will be considered at the conclusion of this process.