Start Your Own Business Programmes

The Local Enterprise Office Kildare is commencing Start Your Own Business Programmes throughout the county over the coming months.
The programme will benefit people who are considering setting up a business or who have recently set up their own business. The programme involves developing and researching your ideas, learning basic business start-up skills and expanding your potential with marketing and financial planning advice.

Venue : Keadeen Hotel, Newbridge
4 Wednesdays commencing 22nd November – Cost €100
To book logon to www.localenterprise.ie/Kildare

 

 

2017/2018 Fuel Allowance season will begin on Monday, October 2nd 2017.

To get the first lump sum in October 2017, you must submit your completed form before September 15th 2017.

How to Apply
New applicants for Fuel Allowance need to fill in application form. http://www.welfare.ie/en/pdf/FA_CPF1.pdf.
This application form is also available from your local post office and can also be requested by texting FORM FUEL followed by your name and address to 51909.
If you apply for the Fuel Allowance after the start of the heating season (in October), the allowance will not be backdated.

My thoughts re: the new semi-state body proposed to drive the delivery of social housing

Yesterday morning on KFM I was asked my thoughts re the new semi-state body proposed to drive the delivery of social housing. Many people were surprised that I was broadly supportive of this power being removed from Councils- but I have my reasons! I attach the interview below and include some of the arguments articulated, below.

My experience of local authority housing is that it is slow, inefficient and ineffective. It lacks transparency and accountability and therefore, possibly fairness in its allocations, especially when outsourced to Approved Housing Bodies to deliver ( Approved Housing Bodies may have political representatives on boards. This is particularly worrying where the Approved Housing Body attracts 25% nomination rights for providing just 5% of the funding themselves).

Kildare County Council planned to deliver 1283 social houses between 2015 and 2017 with the €86million allocated to them. It hasn’t achieved half of that and fails regularly to give adequate responses to elected representatives as to why progress is so slow.

Arguments in favour of for setting up new semi-state body

1) A national body with a singular focus could be more efficient than a local authority with multiple functions and remits. It  could deal more effectively with national obstacles to the provision of housing e.g. negotiations with NAMA, addressing the impact of the cost of construction on the delivery of housing

2) Oversight by Local Authorities of Approved Housing Bodies, the main method of delivering social housing locally, is a concern. Approved Housing Bodies will be getting the bulk of the 86m allocated to Kildare County Council to deliver housing. There is little transparency and less accountability around AHBs  e.g.

 

• The Council have refused to provide contact details for the external Chair of the Council’s Audit Committee to me so that I may communicate a number of governance concerns including some relating to the Council’s oversight of AHBs. The CEO of KCC, the Director of Housing and secretary to the Audit committee have all refused to furnish the contact details of the External Chair of the Audit Committee.

Cllrs are being denied access to a Council Audit conducted this year of AHBs in Kildare

If there is no transparency or accountability in the delivery of social housing by a local authority – can we say with any confidence that local authorities are the most effective, fair or efficient method of delivering housing?

Note : Just yesterday the Local Government Auditor confirmed to me that Cllrs are entitled to seek information from  the Chair of the Audit committee and are therefore entitled to his contact details.

Argument against setting up a new semi-state body to deliver social housing

1) The argument re being able to remove the cost of housing off the states balance sheet is an attractive one but is it valid? The same argument was used in relation to Irish Water and that was rejected by the EU.

2) Will a new body be any more transparent or accountable in the delivery of its service or will it just be an extra cost in the delivery of housing? Should they instead spend money on allocating more staff to Local Authorities to drive the delivery of housing and provide proper oversight of organisations to whom that service is outsourced to. My instinct is that this would serve to further increase the cost of local government without a concomitant increase in the quality of service delivered

 

 

2017-08-31-AUDIO-00000317.m4a

Educational Bursaries

Applications are invited from persons living in County Kildare who wish to undertake a degree course at a recognised third level institution in Ireland.  The closing date for applications is Friday 8th September 2017 at 5.00pm.
This year the Council are offering three bursaries:
1. The William G. Carroll Education Bursary for the Community
The William G. Carroll Bursary is mainly, but not exclusively, for third level courses in the field of community development.
 
2. Kildare Education Bursary for people with Disabilities
The Kildare Education Bursary for People with Disabilities is for any third level course.
 
3. Kildare County Council Memorial Bursary for DEIS Schools
 
The Kildare County Council Memorial Bursary for DEIS Schools is for any third level course or PLC course being undertaken by a former student of a DEIS School.
 
Note  qualifying for a Higher Education Grant will not serve to act as a bar to the award of a bursary.
Further information in relation to the bursaries and application forms may be obtained from Kildare County Council website.
Application forms can be found at the front desk of Kildare County Council or at the Community & Culture Department Reception on floor 7. Applications should be submitted to: –
Community and Cultural Section, Kildare County Council, Level 7, Aras Chill Dara, Devoy Park, Naas, Co. Kildare

 

http://kildare.ie/CountyCouncil/Community/Grants-EducationBursarySchemes/

 

Outline recommendations of the Local Government Audit Service and of our internal audit in relation to Voluntary Housing Associations

My motion at May’s full council meeting ‘That this council outline the recommendations of the Local Government Audit Service and of our internal audit in relation to Voluntary Housing Associations and the plan for (or progress) implementing said recommendations.
Report Issued by Tadhg McDonnell, Director of Services, Housing and Corporate Services : The Local Government Audit Service Value for Money Report No 29 relating to the oversight role of the local authorities in the provision of social housing by approved housing bodies is available at:
http://www.housing.gov.ie/sites/default/files/publications/files/vfm_report_no._29_-the_oversight_role_of_local_authorities_in_the_provision_of_social_housing_by_approved_housing_bodies.pdf

The report contains 13 recommendations under the following 8 headings:
Registration of Mortgage                                   Nominations and Statement of Occupancy
Inspections                                                           Record of Meetings
Corporate Governance                                       Financial Matters
Leasing Arrangements                                       Capital Projects
A Regulation Office was established as the Regulator for not for profit social housing providers in 2014 on an interim basis, pending enabling legislation. The Regulation Office is part of the Housing Agency, a State Body that supports the delivery and supply of housing and housing services, funded by the Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government. The Housing (Regulation of Approved Housing Bodies) Bill is currently being prepared by the Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government.
The Internal Audit Report on Voluntary Housing recommended a number of actions to be implemented in the overall management of the Capital Loan and Subsidy Scheme and the Capital Assistance Scheme.
In acknowledgement of the expanding role of Approved Housing Bodies [AHBs] and, in particular, having regard to targets set under the Social Housing Strategy 2020 for AHBs, a Leasing Team has been established from existing staff resources within the housing department. This team is working on the implementation of the recommendations of both audits, together with implementing the current leasing programmes. It is recognised that there is a body of retrospective work to be completed relating to both the national and internal audit and, in order to complete this work, we are awaiting the return from maternity leave of the Staff Officer assigned to this section.

Home Care – The Way Forward

The new Public Consultation process on home care has now commenced. The consultation, launched by the Minister for Health, Simon Harris, TD, and Minister of State for Mental Health and Older People, Jim Daly, TD, is aimed,  in particular, at people who use Home Care services, their families and the general public.  However, everyone with an interest, including: health and social care providers; health and social care workers; advocacy groups; those providing complementary services (such as meals-on-wheels and social activities); and representative organisations are welcome to participate.  ..
 
 
See copy of the of the Health (Amendment) (Professional Home Care) Bill 2016 (Bill) along with an Explanatory Memorandum (memo) published by Senator Colm Burke in October 2016. 

 The consultation paper can be found online at www.health.gov.ie/consultations and the closing date for submissions is 31 August 2017. 
 
 

Town/County Twinning

My motion at June’s Full Council meeting, ‘Unless and until the council addresses its’ failure to ask all Town or County Twinning Associations to provide evidence of good governance, accountability, transparency and fairness in the expenditure of council funds which, being tax-payers money of up to €100,000 +/yearly, the Twinning Associations are likely to, and should be happy to provide, that the funds are reallocated to food banks and food share programmes around the county, including ( but not limited to) Newbridge Food Share Programme, The Dining Room Project and St. Vincent De Paul, currently providing food parcels for more than one hundred and forty families in Newbridge alone a week, and up to one thousand families around the county. And that as part of the review of council protocol in relation to town twinning that the council consider specific criteria that must first be met by all proposed new Twinning Associations before requests for increased expenditure of public monies on the Twinning of towns or county are considered.’
Here is the report Issued by: Sonya Kavanagh, Director of Service, Economic, Community and Cultural Development; ‘ The members agreed to allocate funding to Twinning in Budget 2017. Twinning Committees are required to provide costed work programme for the year. On receipt of this paperwork their grant is processed and receipts are then required to be submitted by a specified date later in the year. Having had a number of discussions at Municipal District level regarding Twinning it has been agreed that a Twinning Protocol and Procedure will be drafted and presented to the Protocol Committee for consideration at their October meeting.