Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Questions (447)

Mattie McGrath

Question:

447. Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the proposal contained in the Local Government Bill 2013 to apply a 50% rates burden on all vacant property throughout the State rather than just in urban areas such as those managed by the City Councils of Cork, Dublin and Limerick, as is currently the case, will have a devastating impact on rural business regeneration; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53730/13]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

The Local Government Reform Act 2014 provides for a change to rating law in relation to the refund of rates on vacant properties. The Act, was signed by the President on 27 January 2014.

While the Local Government Bill 2013, as initially published, provided for the introduction of a harmonised regime of 50% refunds in respect of rates on vacant properties in all local authority areas, I indicated during the consideration of the Bill in the Houses of the Oireachtas that I was conscious of the need to avoid unintended consequences arising from this provision and would reflect on points raised during the Oireachtas debates. In response to this, I introduced amendments to the Bill such that the legislation as now enacted provides discretion to the elected members of individual local authorities to vary the level of rates refunds that apply in individual electoral districts within the authority’s administrative area.

The timing of the commencement of this provision is currently being considered in the context of the timetable for commencement of the Act generally.