Written answers

Thursday, 9 March 2023

Department of Housing, Planning, and Local Government

Local Authorities

Photo of Pauline TullyPauline Tully (Cavan-Monaghan, Sinn Fein)
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106. To ask the Minister for Housing, Planning, and Local Government his plans to increase funding for local authorities in the upcoming budget to increase staffing levels; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11929/23]

Photo of Darragh O'BrienDarragh O'Brien (Dublin Fingal, Fianna Fail)
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The Government is committed to ensuring that the local government sector remains vibrant and sustainable and is well equipped and properly resourced to deliver the key functions within its remit. My Department has a wide and diverse business agenda, covering a broad range of functions including local authority housing, voluntary housing, homeless services, estate regeneration, energy efficiency retrofitting, housing grants, rural water schemes, urban renewal/regeneration, fire services, and natural and built heritage, each of which includes a number of funding schemes. Furthermore, the local government sector is embarking on a significant expansion of activities across a range of areas. Across all schemes and funding programmes, my Department provided a total of €4,193 million to local authorities in 2022.

The funding system for local authorities is a complex one, as authorities derive their income from a variety of sources including commercial rates, charges for goods and services, Local Property Tax (LPT) as well as funding from Government Departments and other bodies. Elected members have direct responsibility in law for all reserved functions of the authority, which includes adopting the annual budget. Accordingly, it is a matter for each local authority to determine its own spending priorities in the context of the annual budgetary process having regard to both locally identified needs and available resources.

On the broader question of the funding for the provision of additional staff resources; under section 159 of the Local Government Act 2001, each Chief Executive is responsible for the staffing and organisational arrangements necessary for carrying out the functions of the local authority for which he or she is responsible. My Department engages regularly and constructively with the local government sector and with individual local authorities on their financial situations and additional staffing requirements. Should the need arise for additional staff, a Chief Executive must ensure that there are adequate resources available to his or her local authority prior to sanction being sought from my Department.

In addition to local authorities funding staffing from existing resources, for certain programme initiatives, central funding may be provided to fund the costs of additional staff. In the case of Housing for All for example, my Department has approved funding for over 250 additional housing posts in local authorities nationally to deliver social housing. In general, where a new programme initiative is proposed that requires implementation at local authority level, the initiative will be brought by the relevant Department to the County and City Management Association (CCMA) for discussion and agreement, particularly with regard to the number, grade, length of time and funding of staff required to deliver the programme. The relevant Department will then need to seek funding approval as part of their annual estimates process if they agree to fund the additional staff.


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