The Housing section of Sligo County Council provides a number of very important services, covering every aspect of social housing:
The Housing Capital Allocation from the Department of the Environment and Local Government for 2003 was €8,770,000, which was made up as follows:
At the end of 2003, Sligo County Council had reached its target of 242 housing starts which were allocated under the Multi-Annual Programme (i.e. 2000-2003). The following table sets out in summary, progress on the larger housing schemes:
|Completed in 2003|
|To be Completed in 2004|
The Council has always had a policy of purchasing houses on the open market where the houses represent value for money and where a demand exists. However, in the current economic climate, it is not possible to source many houses on the open market which fall within the Department of the Environment and Local Government’s approved unit cost budget. However, three houses on the open market were purchased during 2003. In addition, construction commenced on 11 rural houses during the year.
New Council estates were opened in Grange and Dromore West during 2003. The Grange scheme consisted of 22 houses with 14 in Dromore West. 12 houses were also allocated in Ballymote which was an extension of the existing Scheme. Remedial works are ongoing at Mountain View, Tubbercurry. Phase 2 of this project, which involves the refurbishment of 12 no. houses on the estate was completed at the end of 2003.
Approximately 66% of our maintenance budget of €430,000 was used for planned maintenance and the remaining 34% was used for emergency repairs. Planned maintenance involved replacing defective windows and doors and also replacing defective ranges.
Near the end of the year, the Council engaged the services of a Social Economy Co-Op to carry out environmental works (grass cutting, litter collection, flower bed construction) in various local authority estates.
Rents payable on Local Authority dwellings are assessed under a Differential Rents Scheme based on income of the household. The Rent Scheme was reviewed in 2003, to bring them into line with increases in disposable income and to meet the ever increasing demand for maintenance and estate management.
People who wish to purchase or build a house but cannot get a loan from a building society, bank, etc. may be eligible for a loan from a local authority. The maximum house purchase loan is €130,000 and, in 2003, Sligo County Council paid out €139,386.71 in house purchase, construction and reconstruction loans.
|Number||Loan Payments 2003||Amount|
|Construction||4(2 of which were final payments)||0|
|Reconstruction||10(2of which were final payments)||6|
In 2003, 16 houses were sold under the Tenant Purchase Scheme and one of these was sold by way of Shared Ownership. Five of these were approved for Council Loans and the remaining ten received loans from other financial institutions.
This scheme offers home ownership in a number of steps to those who cannot afford full ownership in one step in the traditional way. Initially, ownership of the house is shared between the shared owner and the Local Authority, however, the shared owner has the option at a later date of purchasing the Council’s share outright when they are in a better position to afford it financially.
In 2003, Sligo County Council received an allocation of €3,500,000 to purchase/construct houses under the Shared Ownership Scheme. 22 Provisional Approvals were issued to applicants and 21 Final Approvals were granted under this scheme to the end of the year.
This Scheme allows Sligo County Council to improve or extend privately owned houses occupied or intended to be occupied by an approved applicant for housing as an alternative to the provision of Local Authority Housing. During 2003, 21 houses were upgraded at an average cost per house of €32,142 and 19 applications were approved under the Scheme
In 2003 six affordable houses were completed in Ballintogher. The houses were constructed by McGurran Construction, Bellanaleck, Co. Fermanagh and the purchase price of each house was €125,000. The price represented excellent value for money given the standard of the houses and their proximity to Sligo town. Plans are at an advanced stage for three further schemes at Grange (10), Carney (7) and Strandhill (8) with construction on all three schemes expected to start in 2004.
The Estate Management Officer has been active on all Council estates during 2003 working in partnership with tenants. Pre-tenancy training and induction programmes became mandatory for tenants in Housing Estates throughout the county, with a particular emphasis on addressing anti-social behaviour in estates. Tenant handbooks and housing Induction packs were issued to each new tenant in new estates.
2003 saw the introduction of the Environmental Maintenance co-operative formed with workers from the original Jobs Initiative Programme. Environmental works were contracted on various housing estates throughout the county under the direction of the Estate Management Officer. During 2003, tenant involvement and assistance was evident in Mountain View, Tubbercurry, under the Remedial Works Scheme, which was completed in December. CLÁR funding for estate enhancement works was allocated and apportioned to various housing estates in the CLÁR area of the county, all work being completed in 2003.
Communication links throughout the county continued to improve during 2003 with the Estate Management Officer attending meetings and building initiatives with new and existing Resident Associations. He also meets with individual clients to discuss issues such as maintenance, environmental, and anti-social concerns. Communication links were also evident with elected representatives with several meetings and joint discussions regarding presentation of new initiatives for 2004. It is envisaged in 2004 to draft and implement a policy on tenant participation in estate management. It is the objective of the council to promote participation of tenants/communities in the management of their homes and neighbourhoods through the provision of this policy.
The principal benefit of the Essential Repairs Grants Scheme is that it enables structural repairs to be carried out to prolong the life of a house for an elderly resident. The maximum grant available under the Scheme is €9,523, with 2/3 of the cost being recouped from the Department of the Environment and Local Government. In 2003, 33 approvals were issued during the year and 39 grants were paid out under this Scheme, totalling €149,851.86.
The Disabled Persons Grants Scheme allows Sligo County Council to make a grant available for the provision of house adaptations to meet the needs of a household member who is disabled. Due to the ever increasing number of applications, the grants are awarded on a priority basis, with a focus on those cases where the applicant’s disability seriously impacts on their quality of life.
In 2003, the maximum amount payable under the Scheme was €20,315, with 2/3 of the cost being recouped from the Department of the Environment and Local Government. 144 approvals were issued during the year and 115 grants were paid out under this Scheme totalling €470,753.48.
A new Local Traveller Accommodation Consultative Committee was appointed during 2003 following an election for traveller representatives being carried out among the traveller community in Sligo. In addition to traveller representatives, the Committee also comprises members and officials of Sligo County Council, Sligo Borough Council.
Approval was received from the Department of the Environment and Local Government during 2003 for the recruitment of a Traveller Liaison Officer, whom, it is anticipated will be appointed early in 2004. During 2003, the Council commenced the process of varying its Development Plan to zone an area at Cloonamahon, Collooney, for the accommodation of a Transient Halting Site. A decision on whether to proceed with the variation was deferred at a Council meeting held on 1 December 2003. It is anticipated that this matter will be progressed during 2004.
An Assessment of Traveller Accommodation Needs was carried out during 2003, the results of which will form the basis of a new five year Traveller Accommodation Programme to be compiled in 2004.