Thursday, 3 June 2021
Department of Housing, Planning, and Local Government
270. To ask the Minister for Housing, Planning, and Local Government if his attention has been drawn to recent reports that Cork County Council is significantly underfunded; and his plans to address the issue. [30348/21]
The funding system for local authorities is complex, with authorities deriving their income from a variety of sources including commercial rates, charges for goods and services and funding from Central Government. Local authorities vary significantly from one another in terms of size, population, population distribution, public service demands, infrastructure and other income sources, all factors which should be taken into account when comparing levels of funding in different local authority areas.
Most of the funding from Central Government must be used for specified services. These can be grouped into 5 broad programme categories: recreational, education, environment, housing and transport. Across all schemes and funding sources, the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage provided €135.3m and €167.5m to Cork County Council in 2019 and 2020 respectively. The increase between 2019 and 2020 is due to an increase in housing funding, as well as funding in respect of the Covid-19 rates waiver and other Covid related expenses that occurred in 2020. No report concerning funding specific to Cork County Council has been referred to my Department.
It is a matter for each local authority to consider how it can maximise local income sources and manage its own spending, in the context of the annual budgetary process. Local authority members may decide, as part of that process, to vary the ARV and LPT in order to increase the revenue available to them. I note that for 2020 and 2021 Cork County Council raised the LPT rate by +5% and +7.5% respectively.
The power to vary LPT is a reserved function and local authorities must balance expenditure priorities against available resources. To achieve that balance, the elected members must make necessary choices to balance the level of service provision with the available income. For 2021, 22 of the local authorities throughout the country opted to vary their local property tax upwards while only three have opted to vary it downwards. Arising from these variation decisions, the local authority sector will gain an additional €11.5 million from LPT when compared with 2020.
LPT funding for all local authorities will be kept under review in the context of the recently announced LPT revaluation process.