Environment Minister Phil Hogan’s new plan to recalculate how severe cuts will be imposed on local authorities due to his disastrous handling of the Household Charge means there will be no let up in cuts to community services, Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Environment and Local Government Barry Cowen TD has said.
The Minister is continuing with his policy of hitting local authorities for failing to collect the Household Charge while at the same punishing those who have a high compliance rate.
Deputy Cowen said: “This is another cynical and dishonest budgeting ploy from Minister Hogan. His latest announcement is suppose to be ‘fairer’ but instead even local authorities which achieve a full compliance rate still can’t get back the funding cut from them over the summer.
“Half of the €162.1m instalment of the Local Government Grant to be paid in the last three months of the year is now going to be cut based on the revised compliance rate in the local authority areas. This amounts to a cut, up to 1%, in Q4 and is on top of the cut in funding in Q3, further compounding the financial pressure for councils.
“Minister Hogan’s implementation of the Household Charge has been haphazard from the outset and the continued low payment rate lies at his doorstep not the local authorities he continues to punish for his failures. It’s time for the Minister to start taking real responsibility for the Household Charge debacle and stop trying to fob it off on local authorities.
“The annual reduction for some councils may reach up to 4.2%, which means a direct impact on local services such as libraries, swimming pools and estate maintenance.
“For example Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown has an 82% compliance rate, the highest in the country. However they have lost €343,583 in their third quarterly instalment of 2012 and will not get that back regardless of full compliance. Where is the incentive for them to ensure full collection? Minister Hogan is simply looking to reduce his bill through the backdoor by blaming Councils for his mess.
“The Household Charge has been such a disaster that the Government is now intent on introducing a punitive property tax through the Revenue tax system. The Government knows Minister Hogan is incapable of managing it or the Household Charge but that doesn’t explain why Fine Gael and Labour TDs are allowing him to bully, threaten and punish community services across the country to cover for his failures.”