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Local Government Fund

Dáil Éireann Debate, Tuesday - 18 September 2012

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Questions (46)

Barry Cowen

Question:

46. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for the Environment; Community and Local Government if he will outline the reduction in the Local Government Fund allocation to each local authority area in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38983/12]

View answer

Oral answers (36 contributions) (Question to Environment)

I assume the question refers to general purpose grants from the local government fund. As indicated in the reply to Questions Nos. 37 and 41 , the two principal sources of revenue for the local government fund are the proceeds of motor tax and the income from the household charge. The Local Government (Household Charge) Act 2011 provides that income from the household charge be paid into the local government fund. The proceeds from the household charge are being redistributed on an equalised basis to local authorities within the context of the annual allocations of general purpose grants.

General purpose grants contribute towards meeting the reasonable cost to local authorities of providing services to their customers. Some €651 million in general purpose grants had been allocated to local authorities for 2012. I have decided to withhold general purpose grant funding to local authorities in the third quarter of this year in light of the level of compliance, so far, with the household charge. It is estimated that €160 million will be collected each year as part of the local government budget, and this was part of the budget at the beginning of the year for each local authority. As of 14 September, €103 million had been collected nationally. A total of €15.69 million was withheld from the third quarter general purpose grant payment, which represents a reduction of between 1% and 3% of the total general purpose grant allocation for 2012.

I am keeping the income generated from the household charge under constant review. It is up to individual local authorities to address potential funding shortfalls arising from non-compliance with the legislation and to pursue those who may have a liability and initiate court proceedings, where it is considered appropriate. Local authorities can progressively recoup their original general purpose grant allocation through improved household charge compliance. The final amount of general purpose grants available for 2012 will be revisited and reviewed in the final quarter of the year to take account of the then financial position, including progress on securing an increased household charge yield. I am confident that the level of general purpose grants, together with other Government grants and subsidies and income raised from local sources, is appropriate to meet the costs of providing a reasonable level of local authority services to communities.

The tabular statement sets out the information requested in respect of individual county and city councils.

Local Authority

Withheld from Quarter 3 General Purpose Grant Payment

Carlow County Council

246,235

Cavan County Council

419,804

Clare County Council

243,631

Cork County Council

979,559

Donegal County Council

1,016,872

Fingal County Council

545,285

Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council

343,583

Galway County Council

779,835

Kerry County Council

417,043

Kildare County Council

564,622

Kilkenny County Council

412,407

Laois County Council

409,600

Leitrim County Council

291,318

Limerick County Council

453,821

Longford County Council

330,750

Louth County Council

278,293

Mayo County Council

641,589

Meath County Council

644,835

Monaghan County Council

340,589

Tipperary North Riding County Council

376,593

Offaly County Council

386,784

Roscommon County Council

436,249

Sligo County Council

325,113

South Dublin County Council

475,210

Tipperary South Riding County Council

462,782

Waterford County Council

507,283

Westmeath County Council

414,356

Wexford County Council

481,697

Wicklow County Council

369,163

Cork City Council

446,103

Dublin City Council

1,172,960

Galway City Council

123,887

Limerick City Council

203,098

Waterford City Council

154,343

I cannot understand how the Minister can be so confident that local authorities will meet the demands of their constituents in providing services next year, given the difficulties they face towards the end of this year, by virtue of him penalising them for something they had nothing do with. With regard to the household charge and its child, the property tax, how long has the Minister had the Thornhill report on his desk? Has he brought it to Government? Has it been discussed at Cabinet? When does he expect to make a recommendation?

The property tax report, or the Thornhill report as it is known, has been with me since June and I will bring it to Government in the context of the budgetary matters that will be under discussion over the next few weeks.

There must be many pages in it.

It is a budgetary matter.

It must be an excessively big document when one thinks the Minister has had it since June and has not brought it to Cabinet yet.

I have read it.

The whole country can talk about options that might or might not be in the report while the Minister decides what he wants to take from it. This fanfare must come to an end. The Minister has to bring about a proper budgetary and management system. The whole thing is in complete disarray.

It goes back to-----

It goes back to the troika and all the rest of it. We are hearing that for the past few years.

The budget is in December.

Deputy Cowen will be aware that as part of the negotiated agreement, with which he is well familiar----

That the Government did not renegotiate the agreement, having promised it would.

-----a property tax was in the text. The EU-IMF require us to implement such a tax. The interim tax was the household charge, which will help to develop the database to ensure people get a bill in 2013 and beyond. The Minister for Finance will bring forward the property tax and it will be part of the Budget Statement.

Does the Minister think it is completely unacceptable that Clare County Council is blackmailing applicants for higher education grants in the context of the household charge-----

Deputy, we have dealt with that. This has nothing to do with the question.

-----and threatening the future of young people and their career and education prospects?

Thank you, Deputy. There is a Deputy sitting here who has been waiting for the past three quarters of an hour for his question. I thought the Deputy had a question when I gave him the floor. I call Deputy Higgins.

The Minister is not from County Clare, thank God.

I ask the Minister to acknowledge that since the household tax is almost an austerity tax to bail out the speculators and bondholders, it is absolutely immoral for him to cut back on funds for services from central taxation that will affect the lives and livelihoods of ordinary people. Does the Minister not agree further that it is an outrage that county councils would threaten students with their grants-----

I thank the Deputy and ask him to put his question in respect of what is on the Order Paper.

-----to try to blackmail their parents into giving up their completely justified boycott against this tax?

We have already dealt with that issue.

As Deputy Higgins is aware, the Government is trying to broaden the tax base from a standing start with no database and it will do that.

The Minister should listen to Peter Bacon, who has ridiculed that idea. He rebuts it.

The Deputy must be the only socialist in the world who is against that-----

Is it okay to blackmail people?

-----as one of the few so-called socialists in the place. However, the Government will broaden the tax base. Unlike Deputy Higgins, it does not wish to impose any more tax on workers.

Who will pay the property tax? Will it be someone from Mars?

We will turn to Question No. 47.

Apparently, a Cheann Comhairle, there are secret pots of gold under every house.

Thank you, Deputy. Please speak through the Chair.

The Deputy should try the fracking.

Thank you. Please speak through the Chair.

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