This is not a debate about flooding. I would like to respond to some of the extraordinarily partisan remarks made by Deputy Fleming in the middle of a national weather emergency. These remarks are regrettable because many Members from all sides of this House have been working with local communities in extraordinarily difficult situations. I do not think anybody other than Deputy Fleming's party has decided to be partisan about what is a national emergency. I thank all of the agencies, particularly all of the volunteers the length and breadth of this country, who are helping communities affected by flooding, particularly those on the western and southern coasts and in the midlands. The inter-agency response has been very good. We have seen members of the Defence Forces, members of the local authorities, members of the OPW, mountain rescue, civil defence and local residents and businesspeople doing their very best to fight back the waters and the rain. We saw a month's worth of rain fall in 24 hours in parts of this country last weekend. A week on, sadly, more bad weather is on the way.
I will make a couple of points. Under the capital plan, we will spend €430 million on flood relief schemes from 2016 to 2021. That means that we will spend more on flood relief schemes in the next five years that we did in the past 20 years. This is not a partisan comment. It is a reflection of the fact that we are experiencing more adverse weather and an acknowledgement of the fact that we spent €410 million on flood relief from 1995 to 2015. We will spend €430 million on it in the next five years.
I do not live in a virtual world but the last time we discussed the Finance (Tax Appeals) Bill 2015, the Deputy stressed the importance of making information available to the public. When I point out to the Deputy and indeed the public that the Catchment Flood Risk Assessment and Management, CFRAM, website, which can be accessed at www.cfram.ie, contains significant mapping that the previous Government started and this Government finished in respect of 300 areas in this country that are at risk of flooding, something we need to do under the EU floods directive, I believe it is important to make information available to our citizens.
The most important thing is what we do with that information now. By this time next year we will have schemes devised under CFRAM whereby we will know exactly the solutions and options for each of these communities. It is important we all work together on that.
No one is going to stand in wellies and have photographs taken anywhere. Bertie is gone. That was the old way of doing things. What I have done this week, instead of rushing around the country to be seen in wellies up to my knees in water, is to work here with the Government to try to put in place a package of measures that can, in so far as possible, support people who have been affected. We have a €15 million fund, with €10 million available for households through the Department of Social Protection and its community welfare officers. In some towns and villages affected by flooding, community welfare officers are even calling to people's homes and helping them to fill out the forms. There is hardship funding, funding to replace carpets and materials and to repair structural damage. That is important.
Yesterday for the first time, I and the Minister, Deputy Coveney, announced a business relief scheme. The Deputy is right that there are people who cannot access flood insurance and who have been flooded. They need assistance to get their businesses back open. We have €5 million which will be administered through the Red Cross. The first €5,000 is effectively on an honour system. People will fill out a very simple form which will be available on the Red Cross website, hopefully today, but if not, tomorrow. People should be in a position to apply for that and I expect payments of up to €5,000 to start to be made towards the end of next week or the very start of the following week. There will be a phase two for those who have had significant damage. They can seek a further level of support of up to €15,000. They will need receipts for that and it will take longer to assess. Our priority is to get an initial payment of up to €5,000 to every business that has been affected.
On flood insurance, we have a memorandum of understanding in place between Insurance Ireland and the Office of Public Works whereby we are exchanging information. As part of the interdepartmental group on flooding, the Department of Finance is reviewing the country's position on flood insurance. That group is due to report in the spring.
We will discuss the issue of the property tax shortly, I am sure. As the Deputy knows, there is already a situation whereby if somebody's home is uninhabitable, it may be exempted from property tax. Property tax is self-assessed, based on the value of a house. If a home is flooded, its value will obviously have a bearing on the figures submitted to Revenue. We all need to work together on this. There are difficult days ahead and I work with Members on both sides of this House for the best possible outcomes for all our communities experiencing very bad weather.
I would not have minded Deputy Fleming's comment if I thought he did not understand, but as I know he understands, it does upset me. He knows very well how flood relief schemes and funding work. He knows better than many of us and has been around here a long time. He knows it is impossible to predict various stages of funding. For example, we might decide we want to put a flood relief scheme in place in Bray, a town I know well. It cannot be predicted that the contractor may go out of business and a new contractor may have to be hired. We want to put a flood relief scheme in place in Bandon and somebody takes a legal challenge. We cannot spend the money until we have the authority to go ahead with the scheme but every single cent of that funding will be spent on flood relief. I can assure the Deputy of that. More money will be spent on flood relief in the next five years than has been in the previous 20. That reflects climate change and the severe weather conditions which we are likely to continue to experience.
Some other issues were raised in respect of this Bill. It is a simple Bill and does not claim to do some of the things some Deputies would like it to do. It is not going to abolish property tax. This Government believes property tax does not have an adverse impact on job creation and does not make any apology for wanting to pursue full employment relentlessly. We believe taxes that are not based on work help to keep a positive climate in place in terms of job creation.
On the ability to pay, there are a number of provisions in place in respect of deferrals. Deputies will be aware of that. Deputy Tóibín suggested we were pandering to south Dublin Deputies. He told a very colourful story. I nearly thought he was thinking of joining the Fine Gael Parliamentary Party, he seemed to have so much detail on the various views of all my colleagues and what they say at meetings. He ignored one very big aspect. Dr. Don Thornhill wrote a report which suggested that the date be postponed. He is a very eminent former civil servant and he was the one who made the recommendation on the deferral. It is not true either to suggest that property prices have risen only in Dublin. We have seen property prices increase outside Dublin by over 14%. A revaluation may have meant that lower value homes which would, I think it is fair to say, be mostly outside the greater Dublin region, would have faced a larger percentage increase in the local property tax. The idea that this is a Dublin-centric measure might be a nice political concept but it does not tally with reality.
I take Deputy Murphy's points on ensuring exemptions are easy to access and are not tied up in bureaucracy. Measures in respect of people with disabilities that have been in place on an administrative basis since 2014 will be given a legislative underpinning. They are relatively complexity-free in that Revenue will accept a doctor's note or doctor's evidence. That is much less burdensome for a person with a disability than what was originally envisaged.
I am conscious of the need to debate the Committee Stage amendments so I commend the Bill to the House.