Dáil Éireann - Volume 359 - 25 June, 1985

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Cavan-Monaghan House Inspections.

5. Mr. J. Leonard asked the Minister for the Environment the average delay in new house inspections in Counties Cavan and Monaghan from the date the file is sent to the housing inspector until the file is returned.

Mr. Kavanagh: The general length of time taken for inspections in the Cavan-Monaghan area is estimated to be about eight weeks at present. This longer than normal period is because of a number of factors which had arisen due to staffing difficulties, including the continuing absence on sick leave of one inspector, and particularly difficult weather conditions during the winter months. An additional inspector was assigned for a period to the area in order to reduce the average waiting time. The matter is being kept under review in the light of the position on inspections both in the Cavan-Monaghan area and other parts of the country.

Mr. J. Leonard: Is the Minister aware that last year the delays were twice as long as he indicates in his answer and that not alone are these delays resulting in people having to wait quite a long time for new house grants but also for loan subsidy payments? We are talking about people who in most cases are badly in need of these payments. Will the Minister not agree that a serious situation has developed in this respect in the past 12 months?

Mr. Kavanagh: I accept that, for the reasons I have outlined, a serious situation did arise. As I have said, this was due to temporary staff changes. In the Cavan-Monaghan area there was an increase in the number of cases awaiting inspection. Following the retirement of a supervisor inspector in Donegal last year, [1613] a housing inspector from the Cavan-Monaghan area was appointed to fill the higher post in a temporary capacity. A housing inspector from another area was sent subsequently to Cavan-Monaghan for a period so that the backlog that had accumulated there might be cleared. I understand this move has had a beneficial effect there.

Mr. J. Leonard: Is the Minister aware that this problem arises also in cases in which applicants request the Department to send an inspector to the premises concerned but where in many cases there is a problem relating to garage size or the overall size of the house and that, after waiting for perhaps five months for the arrival of the inspector, the applicant is told there is a problem, that, for instance, the garage could be converted. While awaiting the visit from the inspector, the applicant would have continued with the building but because of what the inspector says, the applicant might lose the £2,000 grant and also the £3,000 loan subsidy?

An Ceann Comhairle: That seems to be a separate question.

Mr. Kavanagh: If building had commenced before 1 May, the applicant would not be entitled to the £2,000 grant.

Mr. J. Leonard: I am talking about the present.

Mr. Kavanagh: Every effort is being made to try to avoid the sort of problems the Deputy refers to, but I shall follow up the question for the purpose of ensuring that the inspector is retained in Cavan-Monaghan until such time as the waiting list in this respect is reduced to a reasonable level, that is, until the waiting period is reduced to about six weeks.

Mr. Molloy: Is the Minister aware that there are similar complaints regarding other counties and can he say when we may expect the administration of the housing grants to be transferred from the [1614] Department to the local authorities in line with the proposals in the recent policy documents?

Mr. Kavanagh: The necessary legislation to bring about the proposals in that document in relation to devolution will be before the House in the autumn.

Mr. Molloy: Is the Minister aware of the long delays in other counties in having house inspections undertaken prior to the commencement of reconstruction grant work? Is he aware also of the delays in the payments of grants as a result of delays in final inspections, a situation which the Minister will appreciate causes a good deal of hardship for young couples who have obtained bridging finance and who therefore need to have the grants paid as quickly as possible?

An Ceann Comhairle: The question deals with Counties Cavan and Monaghan.

Mr. Kavanagh: There are various reasons for delays in this respect. A number of such cases are brought to my attention by way of questions for written answers but I shall have investigated any case that is brought to my attention.