Tuesday, 24 November 2020

Questions (393)

Thomas Gould

Question:

393. Deputy Thomas Gould asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage if the remainder of the €900 million grant for rates waivers promised to assist local authorities with any shortfall in budgets in 2020 can be used to meet additional expenditure that will be occurred in 2021 such as increased pension contributions and increased costs due to public service pay agreements. [38724/20]

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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 commitment 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 for three months, 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 administration of the six-month waiver and three-month extension will be completed in December, at which point the final cost of the waiver is will be clearer. If there is an underspend, as there is expected to be based on returns received to date, the surplus funding will be available for distribution to local authorities to help reduce the burden of income losses in other areas and to assist with Covid-19 specific costs incurred in 2020.

Cork City Council has also been notified of an allocation of €6.8m from my Department for 2021, to help meet the additional costs that will arise as a consequence of the national pay agreements next year. This allocation relates specifically to increases in pay and pensions costs resulting from the unwinding of the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest legislation and relating to the Public Sector Stability Agreement.