Dáil Éireann - Volume 613 - 31 January, 2006
Written Answers. - Traveller Community.
Mr. Sargent Mr. Sargent
 546. Mr. Sargent asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the current spend or allocation to the various bodies dealing with the travelling community; the amount of the overall spend or allocation in each of the years from 2000 to date in 2006 in funding all services, projects, schemes, grants, loans and resources to the travelling community; his views on whether the return on such spending has been satisfactory; and his plans to improve the effectiveness of such services. [2919/06]
Mr. N. Ahern Mr. N. Ahern
Mr. N. Ahern: My Department provides both capital and current funding to local authorities towards the provision and management of Traveller specific accommodation in addition to funding standard local authority accommodation in which Travellers are accommodated. Capital funding for Traveller specific accommodation is provided to local authorities for the construction of new Traveller specific accommodation and the refurbishment of existing Traveller specific accommodation. This funding recoups to local authorities the full cost of providing and refurbishing group housing schemes and serviced halting sites; 50% of the costs associated with the provision of caravans in emergency situations; the full cost of a special grant of €3,810 payable to Travellers for the first time purchase of a house and the special grant of 10% of the cost, up to a maximum of €640, to a Traveller family who are purchasing a caravan for the first time.
Current funding arises in respect of the recoupment to local authorities of a percentage of the costs of managing and maintaining halting sites as well as 90% of the salaries and travelling expenses of social workers employed by local authorities and voluntary bodies concerning the accommodation of Travellers. Of this number, three are employed by voluntary bodies who work with Travellers, Crosscare, Navan Travellers Workshop, and Clarecare, and funding is also provided for the employment by the Irish Traveller Movement of an accommodation officer.
The level of capital and current funding to local authorities in each of the years 2000 to 2005 by my Department is set out in the following table:
 Funding for 2006 will be published shortly in the Revised Estimates for Public Services 2006.
During the course of the first local authority Traveller accommodation programmes from 2000 to 2004 there was a significant improvement in the accommodation position of Travellers. During that time an additional 828 families were accommodated in standard local authority accommodation. In the same period, 398 new units of permanent Traveller specific accommodation were provided and a further 322 units of permanent Traveller specific accommodation were refurbished to modern standards. This has resulted in a reduction of over 50% in the number of families on unauthorised sites, down by 606 families from the high of 1,207 at the inception of the programme to 601.
These improvements in the accommodation position of Travellers are very welcome and it is expected that this level of progress will continue under the new Traveller accommodation programmes adopted by local authorities to cover the period 2005-08. A number of steps have been taken by my Department to ensure that this happens. For the first time, local authorities were required, when adopting their new programmes, to specify annual targets for the provision of accommodation for Travellers. These targets will be closely monitored and each local authority’s progress will be measured against them on an annual basis.
On the current expenditure side, a study is currently under way on the issues arising concerning the management and maintenance of Traveller specific accommodation with a view to assisting local authorities to improve their activities in this area. My Department and local authorities also take an active part in the work of the high level group on Travellers which, under the aegis of the Department of Justice Equality and Law Reform, is working to ensure that there is improved co-ordination in the delivery of all services, including accommodation, to Travellers.
Dáil Éireann 613 Written Answers. Traveller Community.