Wednesday, 25 January 2023
Department of Public Expenditure and Reform
Catherine Murphy (Kildare North, Social Democrats)
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87. To ask the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the date on which the first tranche of rapid-delivery homes will be delivered; the total estimated cost per rapid delivery home, including the cost of connecting them to services such as water and electricity; if he will provide a schedule of meetings that the OPW has had with an organisation (details supplied); if he will include the identities of stakeholders and service providers that have been consulted and or engaged on the delivery of rapid-delivery homes; and if he will clarify with whom responsibility lies in the context of repairs and long term upkeep of the rapid-delivery homes over their 60-year lifespan of use. [3678/23]
Patrick O'Donovan (Limerick County, Fine Gael)
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Since the invasion of Ukraine by Russia’s armed forces in February this year, Ireland has welcomed almost 70,000 Ukrainian people who have fled the war in their country. The EU’s Temporary Protection Directive provides the legal framework for assisting Ukrainians entering the EU who are officially called Beneficiaries of Temporary Protection (BOTPs). The Government’s overall humanitarian response is coordinated with our EU partners and other countries. Because of the sudden and unprecedented numbers of new arrivals in the State, over such a short period of time, the Government, of necessity, has had to use a range of accommodation sources to facilitate displaced Ukrainians. These include hotels, guesthouses, former religious buildings, sports halls, youth hostels, scout dens, arenas, holiday villages and tented camps as well as space in privately owned homes pledged through the Irish Red Cross.
On 11th April, the Government agreed that the Department of Housing Local Government and Heritage (DHLGH) would lead on addressing the medium and long-term need to develop capacity for Ukrainian arrivals including the possible provision of rapid build accommodation. A Task-force was set up, led by the DHLGH, to oversee a 3-streamed approach to rapid build, refurbishments and new builds.
Arising from a Memorandum from the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, considered on 26th April, the Government decided on a range of measures to boost the supply of accommodation for refugees arriving from Ukraine. These measures included a rapid build, volumetric, modular units option - the evaluation of which was to be led by the Office of Public Works (OPW).
The OPW in conjunction with the Construction Industry Federation (CIF) representing specialist rapid build manufacturers and main contractors, developed an exemplar design and specification to ensure Building Regulation compliance. The design is based exclusively on rigid frame volumetric structures which represents the best method, having regard to the need for quality, speed, and simplicity of design and production, to achieve the scale of programme required. These meetings took place in the earlier phase of the design process in April and May 2022.
The rapid build prototype that has been designed is a highly energy efficient A Energy Standard durable single storey unit (with a structural life of 60 years). The 60 year lifespan was chosen to be consistent with housing standards and to maximise the long-term value to the exchequer, of the significant upfront investment involved, by providing units that can meet future accommodation needs, once the humanitarian crisis, induced by the War in Ukraine, has passed.
On 28th June, 2022, the Government authorised the roll-out of a rapid build homes programme to provide accommodation for 2,000 Ukrainians, predominantly women and children, in 500 family units at several sites across Ireland. Since then, my Office has been working collaboratively with the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth as the Lead Department, and a range of other bodies such as the Department of Housing, Local Government, and Heritage, local authorities, Irish Water, ESB networks and Open Eir to deliver the rapid build housing programme.
Following a procurement process, John Sisk & Son (Holdings) Ltd was appointed as the main contractor to manage the site enabling works and to arrange for the procurement, transportation and installation of the rapid build homes for this project. The procurement process was undertaken in July and August 2022 and approval to award the contract given on 25 August 2022.
John Sisk & Son (Holdings) Limited, has engaged with rapid build homes manufacturers and has competitively tendered to the market for the supply of the rapid build homes, using the specifications, innovative exemplar model, quality and assurances developed by the OPW. John Sisk & Son (Holdings) Limited has now established a framework of 5 suppliers with the capacity to produce the homes to the required standard.
The production of the 700 homes required for the programme commenced in October and the homes will be delivered on site on a phased basis from end January 2023 for installation as site enabling works are completed.
As the programme is still ongoing, final expenditure details are not yet available.
Site evaluation works continue to be undertaken by my Office in collaboration with Sisk to finalise State owned sites around the country, identified by the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage, that will be necessary for the programme. My Office is also supporting the Department of Children, Equality, Disability Integration and Youth with their comprehensive programme of engagement with local representatives in areas where sites are being progressed for the installation of these homes.
It will also be a matter for that Department to implement a long-term management and maintenance programme for the developments and I understand arrangements are underway in that regard.