Since 2015, all local authorities have been compensated for commercial rates foregone as a result of the decision to make Irish Water non-rateable in 2014. In consultation with the local authority sector, commercial rates are being re-introduced for Irish Water and from next year, Irish Water will pay commercial rates like other utilities and there will no longer be any general need for compensation in lieu of rates.
Based on the valuation, by the independent Commissioner for Valuation, it is expected that overall, the local government sector should collect a broadly similar amount in commercial rates to that previously provided as exchequer funded water rates compensation. However, due to the distribution of the income from Irish Water commercial rates, on the same basis as other utilities, some local authorities will receive less in commercial rates than they received in compensation, with others receiving more. Of the small number of local authorities negatively impacted, it is accepted that Wicklow County Council would be disproportionately impacted by the level of income reduction in the context of its Budget for 2020.
My Department has monitored the impact of the transition across local authorities and having carefully considered the challenges faced by Wicklow County Council, my colleague, the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government and I have agreed the allocation of financial support to Wicklow County Council in the amount of €300,000.
This level of support will significantly mitigate the impact in 2020. Looking further ahead, it is important that the Council continues to work to achieve savings, efficiencies and improvements in income generation and collection as this funding represents a once off special allocation that will not be repeated in subsequent years. My Department will continue to work with the Council to this end.