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30 Nov 2021

'Not possible,' concern in Carlow over Bill proposing new deadlines for housing applications

'We're to the pin of our collar,' says Housing Officer at Carlow County Council, Josephine Kavanagh

Carlow Carlow Carlow

Carlow County Council offices on the Athy Road

"Not possible with existing staff levels," Housing Officer Josephine Kavanagh has said after a local representative raised concerns in Carlow over a Bill proposing new deadlines for housing applications.

Cllr Will Paton raised the matter at this month's meeting of Tullow Municipal District when he asked if the housing section of Carlow County Council would have the resources to meet a three week statutory deadline to process social housing applications. 

Fianna Fáil Senator Jennifer Murnane O’Connor has introduced a Bill to "halve waiting times for social housing applicants".

The purpose of the Bill is to set out new statutory deadlines for processing Housing Assistance Payment applications and social housing assessment applications.

The Bill states that Section 20(4) of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009 - which deals with social housing assessments - is amended by the insertion of the paragraph below.

The amendment states that the "housing authority of application shall deal with the application within a period of 3 weeks of receipt or, where the authority has requested additional information for the purpose of verifying information relating to the application, within 3 weeks of the receipt of such additional information".

However, when the matter of a three week deadline on applications was raised by Cllr Paton, Ms Kavanagh said she would have concerns about it.

"As it is, we're to the pin of our collar, a lot of work is required," she added and said that on average the local authority would take around six weeks to process an application but legally they have up to 12 weeks. 

Cllr John Murphy highlighted that some applications would take longer than others as not all of the documentation might have been provided by the applicant. 

Cllr Paton said there obviously is a big difference between twelve weeks and three weeks and Ms Kavanagh replied, "Oh my God, yes."

She added that meeting the proposed three week deadline is "not possible with existing staffing levels". 

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