Mr. Dick Roche, T.D., Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government today (11th December 2006) notified record levels of General-Purpose Grants to local authorities. He allocated €948m for 2007, an increase of €70m or 8% over the record amount provided in 2006. Full details of individual local authority allocations are included below.
The 2007 allocation of €948 million is 2.8 times the initial figure - €339m - provided in 1997.
The increase in funding is 5 times greater than the level of inflation (about 35%) between 1997 and the end of this year.
Further allocations will be made to local authorities in January for non-national roads. These will also show an increase on the allocation of €558 million provided for 2006.
An additional €10 million will also be allocated to certain local authorities for additional operational costs associated with new water services infrastructure.
Local authorities are major players in the nation's life; in all they will spend in excess of €9 billion in 2007 between their current and capital programmes. General-Purpose Grants are provided through the Local Government Fund which funds over 30% of local authorities' current spending. These grants are the Minister's contribution to each authority towards the cost of providing its day-to-day services.
"The level of funding I am providing to local government for 2007 is well ahead of the projected level of inflation", the Minister said.
"This significant increase in funding will enable local authorities to continue to improve the range and quality of services they provide to the local and business communities. On the basis of this increased funding, and continued rates buoyancy from the greatly strengthened commercial base supported by the Government's successful economic policies, I have urged local authorities to continue to exercise restraint in setting increases in commercial rates and local charges. This is important to the long-term viability and competitiveness of commercial operations and to the overall competitiveness of the economy".
Minister Roche continued "Local authorities responded positively this year to my request in this regard and increases in rates and charges for 2006 were generally of a lower order than in previous years, averaging at just over 4%.
The Minister indicated that many initiatives are now in place to support efficiency and value for money in the local government sector, including the new financial management systems, five-year multi-annual capital investment programmes, value for money auditing and expanding e-enablement.
He continued "local authorities must make every effort possible to deliver value for money and to operate in an efficient and effective way. I expect management and elected members alike to use the opportunity of their 2007 budgetary process as a platform to accelerate the efficiency agenda for the future."
"I am keen to enhance existing financial management and audit control systems to ensure that we get full value for the current levels of local authority expenditure and that the principles of transparency and accountability are fully observed. I am developing a new costing system to deliver enhanced management information in relation to the unit costs of services."
In line with best practice and developments in corporate governance in both the public and private sectors, the Minister also indicated that he is bringing forward proposals this week, in the context of the Local Government (Business Improvement Districts) Bill 2006, to enhance the role of audit committees in local authorities and to provide for outside expert membership. Audit committees will in future review financial and budgetary reporting practices and procedures within a local authority; foster the development of best practice in the internal audit function; review auditor's reports and assess follow-up action by management; assess and promote efficiency and value for money; and review risk management systems.