The Minister of State for Planning and Local Government, Kieran O'Donnell TD, has welcomed the full expenditure of almost €27 million by local authorities relating to Traveller-specific accommodation in 2022. This represents a full spend of the budget allocation for the third year in a row.
This expenditure investment by the department, through the local authorities, on provision of Traveller-specific accommodation in 2022 comprises €20.6m in capital funding and €6.3m in current funding.
Minister O’Donnell said:
“For three years in a row full spend of the Traveller accommodation budget has been achieved. I want to thank the local authorities for their efforts in ensuring this investment is spent to the benefit of the Traveller community. We will continue this collaborative work with local authorities to support delivery of Traveller-specific accommodation.”
The Minister also provided details of the strong interest in the pilot Caravan Loan Scheme for Traveller families. In July 2022, a preferential and affordable Caravan Loan Scheme was extended on a nationwide pilot basis across all local authorities. The purpose of the scheme is to enable local authorities to provide loans to Travellers to purchase their own caravans/mobile homes for use as their primary residence on halting sites at a preferential rate. Under the pilot scheme, there was provision for up to 75 caravans or €3 million expenditure, nationwide until the end of 2022.
The Minister said:
“The uptake has been very positive, with strong demand across local authorities and I am pleased to note that 77 preferential caravan loans have been advanced under this pilot providing Traveller-specific accommodation on sites. My Department is now in the process of reviewing the pilot scheme. A report is being prepared and options for a further scheme are being considered as part of this review.”
The Pilot scheme was introduced under Section 25 of the Traveller Accommodation Act 1998 to support the provision of Traveller-specific accommodation. It was also an action in Housing for All, the Government’s housing plan to 2030.
Minister O’Donnell pointed out that the Traveller Accommodation budget is for Traveller-specific accommodation such as halting sites and group housing schemes and other supports. Accommodation for Traveller households is provided across a range of housing options, not just through this specific funding line alone. The majority of Travellers live in and can often have a preference for standard housing, for example, local authority and Approved Housing Bodies housing. Accordingly, funding available for and spent on the provision of accommodation solutions for Travellers remains broader than that in the Traveller-specific Accommodation budget.
The Minister concluded:
“This represents significant multi-annual investment delivering Traveller-specific accommodation; and funding support of almost €27 million being made available for 2023 demonstrating the Government’s continuing commitment to delivering accommodation for Travellers.”
“I will continue to work with my department, local authorities, Traveller representative groups and all our stakeholders to ensure continued delivery of all types of Traveller accommodation.
“I am steadfast in working with all our stakeholders under the Programme Board to improve the quantity and quality of Traveller-specific accommodation, fund the continued delivery of local authority Traveller Accommodation Plans and grow the Traveller-specific accommodation pipeline.”