Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Environment and Local Government Barry Cowen TD has described as truly shocking the revelation that Minister Alan Kelly has failed to issue policy directions to Local Authorities regarding the use of housing funds collected through development levies.
Deputy Cowen made the comments following a series of Freedom of Information requests made by Fianna Fáil to Local Authorities throughout the country querying the details of the development levy funds. The information received shows that many councils have been holding on to significant housing funds from the Part V development levy in holding accounts for the last number of years.
Speaking following the revelation Deputy Cowen commented, “Fianna Fáil’s FOI requests reveal that many Local Authorities have significant funds available to them from Part V development levies. These funds should be used to deal with the growing housing emergency that is gripping the country.
“We can reveal that Dun Laoghaire County Council has at least €15 million from Part V which is essentially lying idle. In total there is €43.5 million sitting unused in these housing fund accounts. However as a consequence of Minister Alan Kelly’s complete failure of leadership, Local Authorities have been unable to utilise this finance to deal with the escalating housing and homeless crisis spreading across the country.
“Despite being a potentially valuable pool of funding for social housing, Local Authorities have been holding back spending this finance due to the absence of guidance from the Department of Environment. Figures from previous years reveal that councils have barely made any expenditure from their Part V funds in a number of years.
“It is truly shocking that Local Authorities have been unable to spend these earmarked housing funds on the unfolding housing crisis in their respective areas simply because the Minister has not issued any policy directives.
“The latest homeless figures released for August show just how drastic the situation has become, with 707 families, including 1496 children now living in emergency homeless accommodation. That represents a shocking 40% increase since the beginning of the summer. There are over 130,000 households on the social housing waiting lists across the country, estimated to be approximately 350,000 individuals.
“Despite thoughtless criticisms of Part V by Minister Kelly, the policy provision has a history of delivering a large number of high quality social and affordable housing units since 2002. It just shows how utterly out of touch Minister Kelly is that, despite the potential contribution of Part V Funds as a solution to the homeless crisis, he has just passed legislation to halve the Part V obligation on developers from 20% to 10%.”