English urges Meath West Community Youth Groups to prepare to apply to €4m Capital Fund

Agher, Athboy, Ballinacree, Ballinlough, Ballivor, Bohermeen, Budget 2017, Castlepollard, Childcare, CLAR, Clonard, Collinstown, Education, Enfield, Funding, Johnstown, Killyon, Longwood, Meath, Navan, North Meath, Oldcastle, Summerhill, Trim, Wesmeath

Local community youth groups can apply from late September

Monday 31st July 2017

Meath West community youth groups are set to benefit from a €4m
capital fund being established by Government, Minister for Housing and
Urban Development Damien English T.D. has stated.

The money is being made available to allow clubs buy equipment which
will support their work with young people, and applications open in
late September. The Meath West Fine Gael T.D. is urging local
community youth groups to begin thinking about and preparing for their

Minister English stated: “Nationally, over 1,500 volunteer led clubs
will be eligible to apply, reaching practically every community in the
country. I want to see Meath West getting its fair share. I encourage
Meath West clubs to examine which sports, arts, adventure or other
equipment they need the most and be ready to apply.’

Minister English saluted the youth group volunteers, stating: “These
volunteer led youth clubs do so much good work on the ground. They are
in the frontline providing young people with indoor and outdoor
activities to prevent them falling into trouble. They also improve
health, wellbeing and build team spirit in our communities.”

“The value of this work is not under-estimated by Government, hence
this new fund.The Application process for the funding is expected to
open in late September. I am happy to help local community youth
groups with their applications” concluded Minister English.


English urges Parents to look into Affordable Childcare Supports

Budget 2017, Childcare, Funding, Meath, Navan, North Meath, Wesmeath

11th July 2017

New website affordablechildcare.ie

Damien English, Meath West Fine Gael TD and Minister for Housing and
Urban Renewal is urging Parents in Meath West to look into the new
childcare supports that can help them financially from September.

There have been over 173,000 page visits to an information website –
affordablechildcare.ie – in the past month alone as more and more
parents look into the supports available to them.

Minister English said, “I strongly encourage all parents here in Meath
West to log on to the website and get informed of the supports
available to them.

“Up to 70,000 children will have extra supports negotiated in this
year’s budget come into force at the start of the pre-school year,
with some children will receive childcare benefits up to €7,500. This
will really benefit families in Meath West

“We are enhancing existing targeted childcare supports by as much as
50%. There will be improved access to subsidies for providers – with
the traditional Community Childcare Scheme (CCS) being extended to
both community and private providers.

“Overall total spending on child care programmes this year is €466m –
representing a 79% increase on figures in 2015. Now we must ensure
that families receive the benefit of this.

“Families will benefit in two ways. Firstly, the changes will see a
universal benefit for every child under 3-years old. Universal
subsidies, of up to €1,040 per annum, which will be available for all
children aged between 6 and 36 months in full time childcare.

“The second targeted support is based on income and also for those
parents who have had to turn down jobs, training and education because
they cannot afford childcare.

“As Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Katherine Zappone has
said, this is the first big step, but there is still much work to done
in this area. I am assured that the Minister is focused on quality of
childcare, accessibility and also recognition for the workers who
provide services.

“Since first entering Government, Fine Gael has prioritised hard
pressed working families; the people who bore the brunt of the
economic recession. A major part of this has been to reduce the cost
of childcare for working parents.

“We introduced the free pre-school year, and subsequently extended it
to a second year. It is estimated the extended scheme provides an
average saving of €4,000 per child.

“We also recently introduced paternity leave for the first time ever.
Dads are now entitled to two weeks’ paid leave.

“I will continue working to ensure that parents across Meath West can
avail of high quality and affordable care for their children when they
need it. Fine Gael will continue to ease the financial burden on hard
press working families.”


Speech to Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland in Maynooth

Action Plan for Housing, Action Plan for Jobs, Apprenticeships, Brexit, Budget 2017, Funding, Housing and Urban Renewal, Jobs, Meath, Navan, North Meath, Rebuilding Ireland, Speeches, Trim, Wesmeath

Address by Mr. Damien English, T.D. Minister of State

at the

Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland /SCSI National Conference 2017:


Friday, 31 March 2017 at 4:15 p.m. at Carton House, Maynooth, Co. Kildare.


Ladies and gentlemen, I am delighted to be here this afternoon at the SCSI National Conference 2017 to explore the many difficult and complex challenges facing the construction sector which are being dealt with by your profession.

As you will all be aware, the Government and I have made it our number one priority to resolve the housing and homelessness crisis and under ‘Rebuilding Ireland – Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness’ we have set out a broadly based and comprehensive set of actions to do just that.

However we cannot implement this plan in isolation. We will need both collaboration and assistance from all of our partners involved in housing provision including industry professionals, such as SCSI members.

Shortage of critical Skills in the Construction Sector

To reach our Rebuilding Ireland objective to increase housing output to at least 25,000 homes per annum by 2021 – a doubling of 2015 output levels – requires the necessary skilled work force to be available.

It is crucuial that any new jobs created are available and accessible to those who are unemployed, and that their wealth of experience and talent can contribute to the recovery of the sector.

Significant work has been carried out under Rebuilding Ireland Department of Education; SOLAS; and the Apprenticeship Council with regard to improving skills and education in the sector and I would encourage continued consultation with the sector in that regard.

Affordability – Housing Delivery Costs

One of the challenges the Government faces is providing quality homes at a cost that is affordable. Under Rebuilding Ireland the Government committed to a broad range of measures to tackle, among other things, some of the costs associated with the provision of housing in the interests of reducing construction overheads.

This included a commitment to undertake a detailed analysis, in conjunction with the construction sector, to benchmark housing delivery input costs in Ireland, in order to facilitate an increased level of housing output into the future.

A working group, chaired by my Department, with a broad range of industry representatives was established late last year and has met several times. I am pleased to say that the group has benefited from positive contributions from industry including members of the SCSI.

Building Control Regulations – Reform

The aim of the building control regulatory framework is to ensure that a home or a building is designed and constructed in compliance with the relevant requirements of the Building Regulations.

Too many serious and unprecedented failures have affected our construction industry and economy over the past decade or so. Failures such as pyrite, defective blocks and fire safety which has given rise to difficulties and distress among the many affected homeowners.

The development of the Building Control (Amendment) Regulations 2014 (S.I. 9 of 2014) was introduced to empower competence and professionalism on construction projects and establishing a chain of responsibility that begins the owner who must assign competent persons to design, build, inspect and certify the building works and who, in turn, must account for their contribution through the lodgement of compliance documentation, inspection plans and statutory certificates.

Social Housing – Getting the balance right

My Department’s policy is to achieve an appropriate and balanced mixture of tenures in new developments in order to avoid large mono tenure estates where difficulties have necessitated considerable public expenditure in regeneration.

My Department provides guidance on the scale of social housing which would be suitable in a particular context or area. This guidance is based on the size of the host town or city and the proportionate nature of the development to ensure good social integration and cohesion. For example a maximum size of 75 dwellings in any single mono tenure housing development applies in large urban areas with proportional reductions in size for smaller towns and villages.

Ideally all developments should provide for a mix of tenures and dwelling sizes to cater for all. Consistent with this policy, Part V of the Planning and Development Act is structured to deliver Social Housing in private housing developments.


Returning to a normally functioning housing and construction sector is critically important in order to support economic growth, social progress and environmental sustainability which will benefit all of our citizens.

While there are many challenges currently facing the housing and the wider construction sectors, we remain fully committed to meeting these challenges.

Ladies and gentlemen thank you for inviting me here today and I wish you every success over the remainder of your conference.

Thank you

Policy Forum Ireland Seminar on “Priorities for the housing sector in Ireland”

Action Plan for Housing, Budget 2017, Speeches

Speech by Minister of State Damien English TD
Policy Forum Ireland Keynote Seminar on
“Priorities for the housing sector in Ireland:
Examining the challenges in social and private

housing following Rebuilding Ireland”

Wednesday 29 March 2017
The future of housing policy in Ireland: implementing the Rebuilding Ireland action plan

Check Against Delivery
Introductory Remarks
I would like to thank the Policy Forum Ireland for inviting me to participate in today’s event.

Housing is a top priority for this Government and getting housing right is a key objective in terms of our future. In particular, we need to increase supply across the spectrum – social, affordable, private, rental and purchase.
We have a strong Action Plan in Rebuilding Ireland and Minister Coveney and I are absolutely committed to its effective delivery.

I’m happy to have this opportunity today to outline progress across the five pillars of the Action Plan and future priorities.

It is just over eight months since the launch of Rebuilding Ireland and today we have an opportunity to reflect on some of the things we’ve done thus far, while acknowledging that more needs to be done and is being done.
While housing supply is the core problem we face, the Action Plan is not simply about bricks and mortar.
The aim has to be to build strong communities, quality properties and to meet the diverse and dynamic housing needs of people more effectively than before.

We need to rethink the manner in which housing is provided and Rebuilding Ireland sets the context for reforming our approaches.  

The public expects us to work together to ensure that affordable, quality and accessible housing across all tenure types is available for all who need it and it is in that spirit that I join you here today.

Indeed, it was through a process of engagement that the Government devised Rebuilding Ireland building on the work of the special Oireachtas Committee on Housing.

I believe that such a partnership approach continues to be critically important during the implementation phase.  
Economic and Construction Industry Outlook
Ireland’s recovery from the sharpest economic contraction in its history is now firmly established.

The ESRI’s latest economic projections forecast a baseline sustainable growth rate for the Irish economy of 3% per annum between now and 2025.

Depending on the final form that BREXIT takes, this baseline scenario may vary upwards or downwards but should remain positive.

With GDP continuing to grow at over 3% per annum and with over two million people in employment, as unemployment has fallen to 6.67%, there is now every reason to be confident about the prospects for further economic growth.
National Planning Framework
You can’t talk about the future of housing without making reference to the new National Planning Framework which is currently being developed as a 20 year strategy for spatial development in Ireland.

We need to plan ahead for a radically different Ireland of 2040 including-

·        A national population increase of around 1 million people;

·        More than one-fifth of Ireland’s total population being over 65;

·        More than 500,000 additional people at work;

·        500,000 homes needing locations much closer to services and amenities; and

·        rebuilding community and commercial life in the hearts of our cities and towns and protecting the many qualities of our rural communities.

The development of a Housing State Land Supply Management Strategy is a critical component of the NPF.

A comprehensive public consultation process was put in place and hundreds of submissions have been received.
The views obtained will help shape a draft NPF which is likely to be submitted to Government in the autumn.
Rebuilding Ireland – Action Plan
Rebuilding Ireland is fundamentally about increasing supply.

Our overall target is to increase total housing output to 25,000 homes per year by 2021, effectively doubling the output of 12,600 homes recorded in 2015 prior to the Rebuilding Ireland.  

Around 15,000 dwellings were completed in 2016 and connected by the ESB to the grid. This is an 18% increase in completions year on year. Of these, 6,289 are in the Greater Dublin Area (4,234 in Dublin) and 8,643 in the rest of the country.

This year we expect output to reach 18,000 homes.

We use ESB connections as an overall proxy for housing completions and have done since the 70’s so it’s an important longitudinal comparator. However, the ESB figures are not the only data we use.

We have detailed information on homelessness, social housing delivery and need and on private planning permissions and construction directly from local authorities and we use these data sources to inform policy.  

Overall, while housing supply is increasing, the mix of supply is still a concern in terms of meeting the broad spectrum of current and future demand, particularly in Dublin and other cities.
For example, of the 15,000 in 2016, 42% were one-off dwellings while only 15% were apartments in our cities, 8% were apartments in Dublin, where the need is greatest and less than 1% were apartments in Cork.

In summary, we are beginning to move in the right direction but the supply shortage continues to put pressure on the entire housing system. The supply mix is still off kilter, with too great a proportion of one off housing and not enough apartments in our cities.

We have published all the data and progress reports on the Rebuilding Ireland website. There are detailed quarterly reports on the website outlining specific progress on each action, under every pillar, including actions under the Strategy for the Rental Sector.

You’ll be glad to hear I won’t bring you through every action this morning just some of the highlights.

Homelessness and Social Housing
Addressing homelessness is a top priority for Government. We have a target on ending the use of hotels and increasing the supply of social housing is the way we are going to achieve this.  

The key focus is to deliver an additional 47,000 social homes by local authorities and approved housing bodies through construction, refurbishment, acquisition and leasing.
Additionally, the Housing Assistance Payment will help us accommodate households in the rental sector.

Last year, nearly 18,400 social housing supports were provided from a housing budget provision of €935 million which was expended in full.  This included nearly 5,300 homes built, refurbished and acquired and some 12,000 Housing Assistance Payment tenancies.
A full schedule of the pipeline of social housing projects and a report, setting out the position at end 2016, has been published by the Department last month.  It shows over 500 projects, involving the construction of over 8,400 units, at various stages in the process, and the up-to-date position will be published quarterly.

The Government has put the funding of €5.3 billion and other resources in place and local authorities and Approved Housing Bodies have seriously ramped up their operations and delivery pipeline.  

Building More Homes
Of course we also need more homes for people that don’t qualify for social housing. In terms of the wider housing market the objective is to double housing output to deliver over 25,000 units per annum on average by 2021.

The ambition is that far more of these units will be mixed tenure and available at more affordable prices.
There’s a huge amount of work going on here to help get key large scale sites moving through: providing infrastructure funding, financing and planning reforms.  
In many ways this is the central cornerstone pillar of Rebuilding Ireland where the Government is using all the levers available, working with local authorities and builders, to get idle sites delivering affordable, mixed tenure housing at scale.

Mixed Tenure Housing on State Lands
First of all we need to make sure that we deliver housing where the State has most levers.

We are at an advanced stage of mapping over 700 State-owned lands for residential development purposes; this is a vital initial step in the new State Housing Land Management Strategy I mentioned earlier.

The next step is to ensure that there is a strong plan to mobilise the most suitable local authority and State sites.

In this regard, O’Devaney Gardens; Oscar Traenor Road; St. Michaels Estate and Corkagh/Grange are good examples in Dublin.

There are opportunities here for local authorities, landowners and developers to innovate and deliver quality product, at affordable prices and at scale, 3,000 homes in total.
Dublin City and South Dublin County Council are doing just that for these sites supported by my Department.

Overcoming Infrastructural Deficits
The Dublin Housing Supply Taskforce identified infrastructural barriers to housing and in order to get sites moving as quickly as possible.

Rebuilding Ireland has put in place a €226 million Local Infrastructure Housing Activation Fund, better known as LIHAF.

This investment will open up lands to deliver up to 20,000 homes by 2019.  
The announcement yesterday of the successful sites means that the necessary planning, design and enabling works will now begin in earnest.

We are taking a joined up policy approach and the Corkagh site in South Dublin will receive LIHAF funding for a road and pumping station that will open up that site for a JV of 1,000 new homes in a great location between the Naas Road and the railway line. This same approach will be repeated across the Country.

Rental Sector Strategy
The Strategy for the Rental Sector, published last December, provides a road map for the development of a badly needed stable, strong and viable rental sector. This will become a real long term choice for people and families.
The Strategy is centred around the the four critical areas of security, supply, standards and services.

The rental sector took the brunt of the unmet demand in recent years and rents increased to unsustainable levels so we needed to help those people and families.

Therefore, a key measure has been the introduction of Rent Pressure Zones, in the four Dublin local authority areas, in Cork city, and in a further 12 designated areas.

This means that rent increases are capped at 4% per annum for the next three years for approximately 55% of tenancies nationally.  

When we examined the rental market, the demand for student accommodation was identified as a particular pressure point.

We therefore targeted the production of purpose-built student accommodation in key urban areas.
As I mentioned earlier, there is huge scope for more apartments to be built for the Rental market particularly in our cities and this is a key focus of our attention at present.

I’d be interested in your thoughts on how we can accelerate the delivery of build-to-rent apartment developments in particular.

Utilising Existing Homes
We are also anxious to get the most out of the housing stock we have. In social housing we have targeted this for a number of years now bringing around 7,000 homes back into use over the last 3 years.

More broadly, preliminary results from Census 2016 indicate that there are just under 200,000 vacant dwellings nationwide, representing approximately 10% of the overall national housing stock.

A Vacant Housing Re-Use Strategy being prepared by the Housing Agency, working with the Department and other stakeholders, is well advanced.

One of the things we need to do is understand that 200,000 figure much better and target the real opportunities in places where demand is highest.

In the meantime, we have put in place a variety of schemes aimed at getting thousands of empty homes back into use.

The Repair and Leasing Scheme launched with funding of €140m over 5 years to allow Local Authorities and Approved Housing Bodies to bring up to 3,500 vacant private houses into social housing use by 2021.  

An investment fund of €32m is available in 2017 which will enable 800 vacant properties to be brought back into use as new homes for families on Local Authority waiting lists.
A Buy and Renew Initiative is also being introduced, with €25m in funding for 2017, which will enable local authorities and Approved Housing Bodies to purchase and remediate private housing units for social housing use.  

This will secure 150 homes for social housing purposes in 2017.

Importantly, a lot of the problem vacant units are not houses but commercial properties.  We are therefore looking at how Planning and Building Control arrangements can be adapted to facilitate and streamline the conversion of unused commercial properties into residential units.
Budget 2017
The level of ambition evident across the five pillars of the Rebuilding Ireland Action Plan has been fully supported by Budget 2017.  

Increased and additional housing-related current and capital funding streams, are complemented by a comprehensive package of housing market supports.

The tax rebate for first time buyers is proving to be a game changer in stimulating demand for new homes as it assists buyers in meeting their deposit requirements and gives confidence to builders that homes put on the market will sell.
All in all, the Government is allocating €1.3 billion to housing programmes this year, a transformational 39% increase over 2016.
 This investment will see the housing needs of over 21,000 households being met in 2017 and the early signs in terms of spend and output are very positive.

In conclusion, we are now very much in the implementation phase of the Rebuilding Ireland programme and people expect to see improved delivery of private, rented and social housing.

All in all, I think the record shows that the Government has a strong and comprehensive plan and that the interventions and actions taken are beginning to work.

I have no doubt that the further actions on LIHAF; Vacant Housing and State land management will also have a major impact. But in housing there is no quick fix and bringing on the increased supply will take time.

Finally, I hope you enjoy the forum and will take the opportunity to network and discuss how we can work together to overcome the housing problems we face and achieve the objectives set out under Rebuilding Ireland.


New jobs and disposable household income on the rise in Meath and Westmeath – English

Action Plan for Housing, Action Plan for Jobs, Budget 2017, Business, Funding, Housing and Urban Renewal, Jobs, Meath, Navan, North Meath, Research and Innovation, Skills, Trim

Thursday, 23rd March 2017

CSO report shows increases in jobs and disposable household income in
all regions of the country

“Recent CSO data shows that disposable income in Meath and Westmeath
households is on the increase.” That’s according to the Minister for
Housing and Urban Renewal and Meath West T.D. Damien English. Minister
English credits a growing economy, with more people back at work, for
this positive development.

“The most recent CSO data shows that in 2014, all regions across the
country showed increases in disposable household income. Here in Meath
there was a 4.5% increase in disposable household income in 2014
compared to 2013, while in Westmeath the figure was 3.1% which was the
highest for any midland county. This positive development is thanks to
our growing economy, which has seen more people back at work.
Unemployment has fallen to 6.6% down from a high of 15.2% back in
2011. There are now over two million people at work.  But we cannot
rest until we reach full employment again locally and nationally”
Minister English said.

“The increase in disposable income obviously has a positive knock on
effect here in Meath in Westmeath as people have a little more money
in their pockets, which is good news for local businesses and services
and spreads the benefits of recovery to all in society.

“We are seeing the evidence of this in the latest Enterprise Ireland
figures, which show that 200 new full and part-time jobs were
delivered in 2016 by the 207 small businesses in Meath that have been
supported by the Local Enterprise Offices. These businesses support a
total of  927 jobs here in Meath. No doubt they will benefit from this
increase in household disposable income locally, and we will see
further jobs created by small businesses. In Westmeath there were 283
new jobs in 265 Local Enterprise Office supported companies,
delivering a new total of 1,375 jobs at the end of 2016 in this

“Fine Gael is working hard to build a fair and compassionate society
with thriving communities across every region of Ireland. In order to
do so we must protect and sustain the economic progress we have made,
so that we can use it benefit the people who need it most. That
economic progress has been hard won over the last 6 years. We cannot
afford to throw it all away on other parties who would risk our

”Fine Gael is working day and night to ensure that every single family
in Meath and Westmeath sees the benefits of an economy that is growing
strongly once again.”

Meath West benefits from Fine Gael’s scheme to help move people from welfare to work – English

Action Plan for Jobs, Budget 2017, Business, Education, Jobs, Meath, Navan, Skills, Startups, Wesmeath

Participants in the Back to Work Enterprise Allowance (BTWEA) are twice as likely to be in full employment after six months than those who did not take part, a review has found.

The study compared people who had stayed on the BTWEA scheme for its full two year duration with non-participants.

Minister for Housing and Urban Renewal, Damien English T.D. said the review, published by Minister for Social Protection Leo Varadkar, was very encouraging for Meath West.

“In Meath, some 475 people are currently participating in the programme, while in Westmeath the figure is 235 people.

“Entrepreneurs are vital for local economies, our economic future and for job creation.

“I would encourage anyone who is currently unemployed in Meath and Westmeath to use this valuable State support which helps starting a new business.

“This review has shown the allowance is highly effective in getting people in Meath and Westmeath from welfare to work” the Meath West Fine Gael T.D. and Minister said.

The BTWEA helps people who are unemployed or claiming welfare to set up their own business and continue receiving State income supports for two years, while getting advice and support for running a new enterprise.

Minister English continued: “The Department of Social Protection has also made it much easier for many more people to avail of the allowance.

“The qualification period has been reduced from 12 months to just nine months for more people on welfare, not just for Jobseekers, but also reduced those on other schemes like One-Parent Family Payment, Jobseekers Transitional Payment, Disability Allowance, and Farm Assist, and other welfare payments.”


Geographic breakdown of BTWEA participants by county:

County Number Participants Percentage of Live Register for County
CARLOW 194 8.7%
CAVAN 275 11.1%
CLARE 412 12.4%
CORK 770 6.2%
DONEGAL 413 6.0%
DUBLIN 2833 8.0%
GALWAY 612 8.9%
KERRY 390 9.3%
KILDARE 425 7.3%
KILKENNY 297 11.8%
LAOIS 220 6.9%
LEITRIM 130 12.4%
LONGFORD 160 8.2%
LOUTH 509 9.1%
MAYO 384 9.3%
MEATH 475 14.0%
MONAGHAN 162 8.8%
OFFALY 198 5.7%
ROSCOMMON 158 11.3%
SLIGO 194 10.6%
TIPPERARY 406 7.3%
WATERFORD 375 8.2%
WESTMEATH 235 5.9%
WEXFORD 369 5.5%
WICKLOW 546 12.9%
Total Participants and national Percentage  





New funding of €327,103 for Cultúr in Meath welcomed by Minister English

Budget 2017, Funding, Meath, Navan

Local Fine Gael Meath West T.D. and Minister for Housing and Urban Renewal has welcomed €327,103 in funding for Cultúr Celebrating Diversity Ltd, which is based in Navan  and is helping the integration of migrants in Navan and Meath.

The migrant integration projects being funded across the country, like Cultúr Celebrating Diversity Ltd’s JUMP project locally will provide a range of practical supports directly to migrants including measures to promote integration, Anti-racism and cultural diversity initiatives.

“This grant will bolster the good work being carried out every day by
Cultúr Celebrating Diversity Ltd as a local community organisations in
support of migrant integration here in Meath, as well as being good
news for Navan” Minister English concluded.

Minister English highlights Government’s plans for Social Protection in 2017

Action Plan for Jobs, Budget 2017, Jobs, Meath, Navan, Wesmeath

Monday, 9th January 2017

Minister for Housing and Urban Renewal and local Meath West T.D.
Damien English has welcomed the Partnership Government’s Plans for
2017 with regards to Social Protection, including further reductions
in unemployment, now at its lowest since Summer 2008, and helping
another 20,000 long-term unemployed back to work.

The Meath West T.D. and Minister also wants to see further measures to
help the self-employed, and a reform of the pension sector.

“In 2016 unemployment fell to 7.3%, the lowest
level in 8 years, and government’s target to get 20,000 long-term
unemployed people back into work was surpassed. Other highlights were
the successful introduction of Paternity Benefit with more than 3,500 fathers already
availing of it.  We also secured increases across the board in welfare
payments for people with disabilities, carers, blind people, widows,
one parent families, and jobseekers, as well as for pensioners, and
paid the Christmas bonus at 85%” Minister English stated.

“In the year ahead the focus of the Partnership Government in the area
of Social Protection will be firmly on increasing employment, pension
reform, developing the Working Family Payment to reduce child poverty
and ensure that no family is better off on welfare than in work.  We
will also further develop the New Deal for the Self-Employed by
extending benefits for all PRSI contributors as well as expand School
Meals and tackle fraud” Minister English said.

Some of the priorities highlighted in more detail include:


Continue to make substantial progress towards the unemployment target
of 5-6% and long term unemployment target of <2.5% and move another
20,000 people from welfare to work in 2017. Publication of the Action
Plan for Jobless Families allowing us to zero in on long-term and
intergenerational unemployment.

Tackle Fraud

Include in the Social Welfare spring or summer bill further reforms to
reduce fraud allied to a public campaign against fraud and to
encourage more reporting.

New Deal for the Self-Employed

Develop proposals to extend more social insurance cover to the
self-employed including a form of jobseekers benefit where a person’s
business fails or they can no longer continue working in their
profession or trade.

Expansion of Social Insurance

Implement the extension of Treatment Benefit to the self-employed,
restoration of dental and optical benefits to all eligible PRSI
contributors in March and October as provided for in the Social
Welfare Act 2016, and examine the extension of social insurance to
cover new risks and contingencies.

School Meals

Expand free school breakfasts to children in all DEIS schools and
35,000 children in non-DEIS schools from September. The aim is to make
the programme available to all schools that want to take part over

Working Family Payment

Develop and consult on options for the introduction of a working
family payment with the twin aims of reducing child poverty and
ensuring that no family is better off on welfare than in work. This
will enable us to put forward proposals for inclusion in Budget 2018.

Action Plan for Pension Reform

Develop, publish and commence the implementation of an Action Plan for
the reform of pensions. This Action Plan will include a road map for
the reform of the State pension, rationalisation and reform of the
Defined Benefit pension landscape, transposition of the IORP2
directive and the introduction of auto-enrolment Defined Contribution
pensions for all working people.

Recalibrate Labour Activation Programmes

Reform and recalibrate local activation programmes like Community
Employment, TÚS and Gateway to reflect the changes in the economy and
labour market, and place a greater focus on social inclusion and those
who find it hardest to secure and hold down a job. Develop and launch
a new work experience programme to replace JobBridge.


Minister English uses Varadkar visit to welcome reform of Social Welfare as ‘true safety net’

Action Plan for Jobs, Budget 2017, Meath, Navan

Friday, 4th November 2016

New Intreo office at Kennedy Road will provide important range of services

“The visit of Social Protection Minister Leo Varadkar T.D. to Navan
this week to open the new Intreo Office at Kennedy Road, shortly after
the Cabinet met to approve the new Social Welfare Bill for 2017 is
timely.  The new office is a great asset to Navan, whilst nationally
Minister Varadkar is bringing about important changes” local Minister
for Housing and Urban Renewal and Fine Gael T.D. for Meath West Damien
English has stated.

The new Intreo Centre at Kennedy Road provides a one-stop shop for
employment services and income supports with a range of personalised
supports to jobseekers including:

– Information on all the income supports provided by the Department of
Social Protection, for example, jobseeker’s payments, back to work and
back to education payments, one-parent family payments and pensions
– Help and advice on employment, training and personal development opportunities
– Personalised support to help you enter the workforce
– Self-service facilities with information and guidance on employment
and training   opportunities
– Information on job vacancies through jobsireland.ie

“Social welfare should become a true safety net for those in need, it
should reward those who have worked hard in their old age or in their
sickness, it should reward carers who save this state a fortune, and
it should incentivise work.  The Social Welfare Bill for 2017 helps
bring this about, and has been endorsed by the ESRI in this respect”
stated Minister English.

Some of the changes that Minister English highlighted and welcomed included:

·         An increase of €5 in all maximum weekly pension payments
including State Pension Contributory and Non-Contributory, Widow’s,
Widower’s, Surviving Civil Partner’s Pension and Disablement Pension
with proportionate increases for those on reduced rates of payment.
Proportionate increases for qualified adult dependants will also be
provided for;

·         An increase of €5 in all maximum weekly benefits and
allowances including Carer’s Benefit, Carer’s Allowance, Disability
Allowance, Invalidity Pension, Illness Benefit, Blind Pension, One
Parent Family Payment, Jobseeker’s Benefit, Jobseeker’s Allowance,
Maternity/Paternity/Adoptive Benefit and Farm Assist, with
proportionate increases for jobseekers under the age of 26 and those
in receipt of reduced rate payments. Proportionate increases for
qualified adult dependants will also be provided for.


Speech to Strategy for the Rental Sector – Stakeholder Consultation Workshop

Action Plan for Housing, Budget 2017, Housing and Urban Renewal, Wesmeath

Strategy for the Rental Sector – Stakeholder Consultation Workshop

Welcome speech by Mr Damien English T.D.

Minister of State for Housing and Urban Renewal

20 October 2016. Morrison Hotel, Dublin 1


Good morning ladies and gentlemen, I would like to start by welcoming you and thanking you for joining Minister Coveney and myself this morning at this very important Stakeholder Consultation workshop on the development of a Strategy for the Rental Sector. 

Rebuilding Ireland and Rental Strategy

The Rebuilding Ireland: Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness was launched in July 2016. Its vision is that to the greatest extent possible, every household in Ireland can access secure, good quality and affordable housing suited to its needs and located within sustainable communities. This is a vision that I fully support. The residential rental sector has a vital role to play in achieving this vision.

The residential rental sector is an essential component of the housing sector, and its vital role needs to be recognised and planned for. It has gone through considerable change over the last ten to fifteen years, doubling in size and providing long-term homes for more people.

This is why Rebuilding Ireland also commits to developing a real and meaningful strategy for the rental sector. This strategy which will be published by the end of the year, will lay out measures to address immediate issues affecting the supply, cost and accessibility of rental accommodation. It will also include measures to support the development of a viable and sustainable rental sector that can provide choice, quality, value and security for households and secure, attractive investment opportunities for rental providers.

Todays’ Stakeholder Forum

The purpose of todays’ event is to allow each of you as key stakeholders in this area to be provided with an opportunity to feed into the strategy and talk through the wider issues affecting the rental sector.  For example some of these are:

  • The growing numbers of families entering homelessness, often from the private rented sector
  • Rents are back at boom time levels;
  • The number of homes available to buy and rent is well below demand;
  • We are building less than half the homes we need and have done so for a number of years;
  • We have thousands of vacant houses and significant numbers of undeveloped sites, and,
  • Thousands of families, owner occupiers and landlords, are in mortgage arrears.

Round Table Discussion

As you signed in today you would have each been given an assigned table number, each table will be facilitated in the discussion around a range of issues by a moderator and a note taker. Key themes and questions have been assigned to each table and an hour and a half will be given to the discussion after which each moderator will be given 5 minutes to report back with the views of each table.

Today is not a negotiation among or with the different stakeholders, it is an opportunity to express and exchange opinions and to build understanding of the different needs and points of view. So while we are not trying to reach agreed positions on all the issues being discussed today it would be hoped that each table’s response would reflect a number of points of agreement and the key issues of ongoing debate. We have also assigned note takes to each table who will record a fair and accurate summary of the groups’ discussion; these notes will be collected by Department officials at the end of the session and will also be considered by working group tasked with assisting in the preparation of the strategy.

Written Consultation Process

While work has started on the development of the Strategy, this needs to be informed by the views and suggestions of as a wide range of groups and individuals as possible. I would like to invite you all to help inform this process by making a written submission. Following today’s event we will launch an on-line consultation guideline: this will provide you with the opportunity to make the written submission. The purpose of today’s discussions is to help inform those submissions. The document will be available on my Departments’ website or in hard copy, and submissions can be returned to my department up to Monday, November 7th to feed into the drafting process.


Thank you all for attending today and I wish to acknowledge the valuable contribution many of you present here today and the organisations you represent have already made. I hope you all have an interesting and engaging morning.

I will now hand over to my colleague Minister Simon Coveney to set the scene for our discussions today.