For Oral Answer on : 05/05/2021
Question Number(s): 88 Question Reference(s): 22862/21
Department: Housing, Local Government and Heritage
Asked by: David Stanton T.D.
* To ask the Minister for Housing; Local Government and Heritage the measures his Department is taking to support local authorities given the impact Covid-19 has had on local authority incomes and the corresponding impact on expenditure programmes and plans; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
– David Stanton T.D.
For ORAL answer on Wednesday, 5 May, 2021.
My Department has engaged extensively with representatives of the local government sector and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform over the past year concerning the financial challenges facing local authorities as a consequence of the pandemic.
In 2020, €900m was allocated by Government to fund the cost of a nine-month waiver of rates. This was an unprecedented measure that offered support to both businesses and local authorities. Of this, €729m was distributed to the 31 local authorities.
The Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform sanctioned the distribution of any unspent funds from the overall rates waiver allocation to the local government sector to help minimise the impact of reductions in other local authority income streams and to help meet the costs associated with the response to the pandemic. As a result a further €131m was distributed to the local government sector for 2020.
In order to continue supporting businesses and ratepayers, and in recognition of the ongoing impacts of COVID 19 and the associated public health restrictions, the Government is funding a rates waiver for the first half of 2021. Funding of €320m has been announced.
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.
In relation to the local authorities expenditure plans, it is a matter for each authority to determine its own spending priorities in the context of the annual budgetary process, having regard to both locally identified needs and available resources. The elected members of a local authority have direct responsibility in law for all reserved functions of the authority, which include adopting the annual revenue budget, and are democratically accountable for all expenditure by the local authority.