Only 8.9% of traveller accommodation funding claimed by local authorities in 2017 to date - Ó Broin
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government Eoin Ó Broin TD has stated that the central government is failing to ensure that local authorities are drawing down the maximum traveller accommodation funding available.
Deputy Ó Broin said:
“Information I received in a parliamentary response from the Department of Housing this week indicated that only €800,000 of €9m in allocated government capital funding for traveller accommodation has been drawn down to date in 2017.
“Only 8.9% of government funding has been drawn down by local authorities seven months in to 2017. We know from previous parliamentary responses that a lot of local authorities are not good at drawing down the funding available to them for traveller specific accommodation.
"Of the €5.5m allocated in 2016, only €4.3 million was recouped to local authorities. We need to find out why local authorities are continually underspending on traveller accommodation.
“Minister Murphy’s predecessor made a commitment in Rebuilding Ireland, 'to have the Housing Agency commission an expert, independent review of Traveller accommodation expenditure and delivery of units, having regard to the targets contained in the local authority Traveller Accommodation Programmes.'
“This review was due to be completed in the second quarter of 2017, yet we are still waiting for this review to be published.
“In the meantime I believe we need to look at changing our approach as to how capital funding is allocated for the purposes of emergency accommodation. Increasing the funding available is no good when it is not being drawn down.
"Sinn Féin is of the view that the government should frontload funding for local authorities with a good track record of drawing down funding.
“I have written to Minister Murphy asking him to contact every local authority in order to ensure that drawdown for traveller accommodation is maximised. I have also asked him to state what his department is doing to actively encourage local authorities to access the funding available to them. “
PQ response below
QUESTION NO: 806DÁIL QUESTION addressed to the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government (Deputy Eoghan Murphy)
by Deputy Eoin Ó Broin
for WRITTEN ANSWER on 11/07/2017
To ask the Minister for Housing; Planning; Community and Local Government the allocation for traveller accommodation in 2017; the amount of funding drawn down from this budget to date; and the amount his department expects to draw down by the end of 2017.
In accordance with the Housing (Traveller Accommodation) Act 1998, housing authorities have statutory responsibility for the assessment of the accommodation needs of Travellers and the preparation, adoption and implementation of multi-annual Traveller Accommodation Programmes (TAPs) in their areas. My Department’s role is to ensure that there are adequate structures and supports in place to assist the authorities in providing such accommodation, including a national framework of policy, legislation and funding.
In 2014, local authorities adopted the fourth round of Traveller Accommodation Programmes, with the five-year rolling accommodation programmes running from 2014 to 2018. These programmes provide a road map for local authority investment priorities over the period. They also form the basis for the allocation of funding from the Department for Traveller accommodation, on foot of proposals received from local authorities and subject to approval from my Department.
Capital funding of €9m for Traveller-specific accommodation is being provided in 2017, an increase of €3.5m (64% increase) on the 2016 allocation. This is the third consecutive year that the Traveller Accommodation capital budget has been increased. Based on claims received, over €800,000 has been recouped to Local Authorities to date in 2017. Experience in previous years suggests that capital spend on traveller accommodation projects is generally more heavily concentrated in the second half of the year.
My Department also provides current funding for accommodation-related supports to operate in tandem with the capital programme. Current funding of €4.3m is being provided in 2017. Over €1.9m has been recouped to local authorities in 2017 to date.
My Department will seek to ensure, as far as possible, that the 2017 funding is fully utilised. Expenditure during the year is closely monitored and where potential savings are identified, funding will be reallocated to other schemes.