Dáil Éireann - Volume 427 - 04 March, 1993
Adjournment Debate. - Environment Matter.
Mr. Connaughton Mr. Connaughton
Mr. Connaughton: Thank you, a Cheann Comhairle. The matter I wish to raise with the Minister is a technical one. It concerns the payment of new house grants to the owners of what are called “granny flats”. In order to avail of the £3,000 grant, previously £2,000, a householder has to provide receipts — invoices made up of £9,000 for materials and £6,000 for labour. That is a reasonable  requirement and I have no trouble with it.
On a number of occasions recently I have met people who built such dwellings covering an area of 400-500 square feet but where the overall cost did not amount to £15,000. The Department are not debarring those concerned from receiving the grant but something is very wrong when, though the cost did not amount to £15,000 the applicant is expected to submit receipts totalling that amount. I hope I have made myself clear. When Fine Gael and Labour were in Government I spoke to officials in the Department and understood that where it could be shown that the cost was less than £15,000 receipts for the actual amount would be accepted on the say so of the inspectors. Will the Minister clarify the matter?
Minister of State at the Department of the Environment (Mr. Stagg) Minister of State at the Department of the Environment (Mr. Stagg)
Minister of State at the Department of the Environment (Mr. Stagg): Accommodation such as that mentioned by the Deputy could, depending on its type, qualify for a new house grant where the conditions of the grants scheme as existing from time to time, are fulfilled.
To qualify for a new house grant, a contractor or contractors registered for VAT must be engaged in the construction of the house. This measure was put in place to ensure compliance with the tax code in a sector which was badly affected by the black economy resulting in a loss of revenue to the Exchequer and also putting tax registered builders at a disadvantage  compared with those outside the tax net.
My Department was conscious, however, that a certain proportion of prospective applicants for grants building houses on their own sites would wish to contribute their own labour in the construction of the dwelling. In such circumstances, those applicants were allowed to carry out some works to their own houses subject to a registered contractor or contractors being involved in building works on the house. This would typically mean that registered contractors doing electrical, plumbing, roofing, blockwork or installing windows and doors provided that the aggregate costs amounted to £15,000, comprising not less than £6,000 worth of labour by a VAT registered contractor and £9,000 for materials on which VAT had been paid.
It is difficult to respond comprehensively to the Deputy on a hypothetical question. Obviously, he has a particular case in mind. If he would let my office have details of it, most importantly the name and address of the applicant, I undertake to have the case examined and then to communicate with the Deputy.
I can say, however, that the £15,000 need not be binding in all circumstances. In the case of a relatively small dwelling, there could be some latitude available. but this would depend on the full facts of the case involved.
The Dáil adjourned at 5.25 p.m. until 10.30 a.m. on Friday, 5 March 1993.
Dáil Éireann 427 Adjournment Debate. Environment Matter.