Thursday, 9 December 2010

Local government budget cut by 27%

The overall Environment and Local Government budget is taking a hit of 27 per cent from almost €2.2 billion in 2010 to just under €1.6 billion. The largest cuts are to investment in infrastructure with the capital budget cut by more than half a billion to just over €1 billion.

The largest element of capital funding, the capital housing fund, will bare the brunt of these cuts. Used for the provision of social housing, local authority regeneration programmes and grants for elderly or disable people to adapt their homes, it has been cut by more than one third from €880 million in 2010 to €520 million.

The cuts weight heaviest in capital funding for the provision of new social housing which will more than halve next year from €550,500 in 2010 to just €247,000, reflecting the policy shift away from building to leasing houses for council tenants.

In an attempt to encourage more council tenants to buy their houses, the discount available under the tenant purchase scheme has been increased from a maximum of 30 per cent to 45 per cent for next year only.

Local authorities will see direct exchequer funding fall by 28 per cent from more than €226 million to €164. Revenue for motor tax will mean that local authorities will face a total Local Government Fund cut of 10 to 12 per cent. While city and county councils are benefiting from the second homes tax, the new funding streams such as the primary residence property tax and domestic water rates will not kick in next year.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is having its funding cut by 27 per cent to just under €20 million, while funding for heritage organisations such as the National Parks and Wildlife Service, the Heritage Trust and the Heritage Council is down a total of 60 per cent to €22.5 million.

Funding for the planning and development sector is, predictably down by 37 per cent. However An Bord Pleanála is taking one of the smallest cuts of any agency, down just 2 per cent to €12,829 million.

Irish Times

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