Wednesday, 13 May 2020

Questions (1293)

Pearse Doherty


1293. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if he will consider a deferral period or a prescribed period of time in which commercial rates are lifted for SMEs and certain sectors affected by a loss of trade as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak in the coming weeks and months, with the Exchequer replacing the shortfall in revenue for local authorities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5013/20]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

The levying and collection of rates are legally matters for each individual local authority. Local authorities are under a statutory obligation to levy rates on any property used for commercial purposes.

In order to support the local government sector in the context of the COVID-19 emergency, my Department is continuing to keep local authority income, expenditure and cash flow generally under review and will continue to work with all local authorities on both collective and individual issues arising. In addition, my Department has engaged with the Departments of the Taoiseach, Public Expenditure and Reform, Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Employment Affairs and Social Protection, and Transport, Tourism and Sport in relation to commercial rates and local authority funding issues, as well as the role that local authorities may be in a position to play in supporting economic recovery.

To that end, on 2 May 2020, the Government announced that a waiver of commercial rates will apply to all businesses that have been forced to close due to public health requirements, from 27 March 2020, for a three-month period. The estimated cost of €260m will be met by the Exchequer.

The position thereafter will be reviewed at a later date as part of a wider review of options to support enterprise and employment, and associated local authority funding implications, once the unwinding of public health restrictions has advanced.