Tuesday, 24 November 2020

Questions (331)

Kathleen Funchion

Question:

331. Deputy Kathleen Funchion asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage if consideration will be given to expanding the commercial rates waiver to cover the first quarter of 2021 (details supplied). [38126/20]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

My Department has engaged extensively with representatives of the local government sector and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform over recent months concerning the financial challenges facing local authorities as a consequence of the pandemic.

€600m was allocated by Government to fund the cost of a six-month waiver of rates from 27 March to 27 September 2020. To strengthen this support, and in line with the committment in the Programme for Government 'Our Shared Future' to set out how rates would be treated for the remainder of 2020, Government subsequently extended the waiver until 27 December 2020, at an additional cost of €300m. This brings to €900m the financial support to fund the cost of a waiver of commercial rates, which is an unprecedented measure that offers support to both businesses and to local authorities.

The local authority budget process for 2021 is now underway. In that context, Minister O'Brien and I recently wrote to each local authority to advise that, in light of the fact that the future trajectory of Covid-19 is unclear, it is not currently possible for Government to make open-ended commitments in respect of commercial rates or other income pressures that may arise in 2021. However, as has been the case since the outset of the Covid-19 pandemic, my Department will continue to engage regularly and constructively with the local government sector and with individual local authorities on the financial impacts of the pandemic and other matters arising.