Tuesday, 24 November 2020

Questions (80, 99, 115, 117)

Denise Mitchell

Question:

80. Deputy Denise Mitchell asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage his plans to extend the commercial rates waiver into the first quarter of 2021. [38477/20]

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Niamh Smyth

Question:

99. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage the way in which local authorities in counties Cavan, Monaghan and Meath will be supported financially going forward to carry out their respective works plans in 2021 in view of the loss of income from the commercial rates waiver for businesses in order to survive during Covid-19; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37719/20]

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Brendan Griffin

Question:

115. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage the position on financially supporting local authorities due to the deficits in their budgets caused by Covid-19; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38398/20]

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Martin Browne

Question:

117. Deputy Martin Browne asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage his plans to ensure that no services suffer as a result of the loss of revenue being experienced by local authorities in the course of the Covid-19 pandemic. [38278/20]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 80, 99, 115 and 117 together.

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, which took the form of a credit in lieu of rates. 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 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.