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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 765-782
 Header Item Local Authority Finances
 Header Item Nuclear Plants
 Header Item Rental Accommodation Scheme Eligibility
 Header Item Departmental Funding
 Header Item Household Charge Collection
 Header Item Alignment Working Group
 Header Item Fire Safety Regulations
 Header Item Tenant Purchase Scheme Eligibility
 Header Item Planning Issues
 Header Item Building Regulations Application
 Header Item Social and Affordable Housing Eligibility
 Header Item Strategic Development Zones
 Header Item Heritage Centres Funding
 Header Item Urban Renewal Schemes
 Header Item Local Authority Funding

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 799 No. 1

First Page Previous Page Page of 109 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 765-782

Local Authority Finances

 765. Deputy Pearse Doherty Information on Pearse Doherty Zoom on Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan further to Parliamentary Question Nos. 165 and 166 of 21 March 2013, if he will provide, in tabular form, the total income of local authorities for 2002-2010 setting out amounts received under the headings of specific State grants, commercial rates, fees and charges for goods and services and general purpose grants from the Local Government Fund. [16296/13]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Phil Hogan): Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan The Annual Financial Statement of each local authority provides an analysis of their income.

  The information requested is set out in the following table in respect of local authorities:

Year Income from Grants

and Subsidies
Local Government Fund -

General Purpose Grant
Income from Goods

and Services
Commercial Rates
2010 1,224,465,604 759,954,151 1,258,748,847 1,426,911,902
2009 1,136,053,238 836,579,777 1,344,687,140 1,408,720,936
2008 1,192,499,200 1,000,329,864 1,444,510,425 1,358,374,584
2007 1,171,217,352 948,570,922 1,429,441,040 1,269,257,446
2006 1,107,685,885 876,940,294 1,279,187,272 1,190,765,417
2005 953,783,279 816,706,462 1,185,335,609 1,051,979,692
2004 891,398,875 752,318,596 1,345,153,985 944,273,734
2003 851,065,692 623,486,740 1,230,032,592 840,410,747
2002 866,379,649 592,755,614 920,812,857 750,154,327

Nuclear Plants

 766. Deputy Derek Keating Information on Derek Keating Zoom on Derek Keating asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan the communications his Department has had with the UK authorities regarding the proposed Nuclear Power Station Development at Hinkley Point, Somerset; if his Department was informed of the proposed development by the British authorities as required under the terms of the Espoo Convention, or if the British Authorities have not notified the Department of the development; and if so, the reasons for this decision. [16302/13]

 781. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald Information on Mary Lou McDonald Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan in relation to the recent development proposals for a nuclear power facility at Hinkely Point as approved by the UK's Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change on March 19th 2013, if he will confirm if the UK Government notified Ireland regarding these proposals; if so, when and how; and if he will provide copies of this correspondence and his replies, if any; if he will provide information on any decision by Irish authorities regarding notification of the Irish public about the development; and if so, the nature and reason for that decision. [16489/13]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Phil Hogan): Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan I propose to take Questions Nos. 766 and 781 together.

While not having a nuclear power industry, it is Ireland’s position that, where a State chooses to develop a nuclear power industry, this should be done in accordance with the highest international standards with respect to safety and environmental protection. Ireland’s priority is the safety of the Irish people and the protection of our environment, including the shared marine environment of the Irish Sea.

The UK published its draft Energy National Policy Statement in November 2009, which signalled its intention to construct ten new nuclear power stations at sites judged as potentially suitable. This was subsequently revised in October 2010 when the number of planned stations was reduced to eight, following the dropping of two sites originally proposed for Cumbria, near the existing Sellafield facility.

Ireland has been actively involved in the consultation process on the new build programme. Since the original announcement in 2009, Ireland has written twice at Ministerial level to the UK Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change outlining concerns about potential environmental impacts in Ireland and in the Irish Sea. The key issues of concern include the assessments by the UK of effects on the environment, management of radioactive waste, and the rationale underpinning the proposed justification decision for new nuclear facilities. This engagement at Ministerial level has been supported and informed by a continuing dialogue at official level where Irish officials engage, and raise concerns where appropriate, with UK counterparts directly engaged in the development and implementation of the plans.

Ireland was notified in early 2012 of the proposed development at Hinkley Point. The Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland (RPII), in accordance with its statutory advisory role to the Government, has been requested to complete an assessment of the potential radiological impacts on Ireland from the programme of new nuclear power plants in the UK, including the plant at Hinkley Point. This assessment will consider both routine operations and a range of postulated accident scenarios at the plants. The Report is being finalised and will be submitted to me shortly. I expect to publish the Report and the RPII will then provide briefings for interested parties.

Under the EURATOM Treaty the UK was required to satisfy the European Commission that the development at Hinkley Point would not be liable to result in the radioactive contamination of the water, soil or airspace of another Member State. In that context, a Commission opinion, issued in February 2012, considered that under normal operating conditions, the discharges of liquid and gaseous radioactive effluents are not likely to cause an exposure of the population in another Member State that is significant from the point of view of health.

Rental Accommodation Scheme Eligibility

 767. Deputy Finian McGrath Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan the position regarding the rental accomodation scheme in respect of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 5. [16304/13]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Phil Hogan): Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan Decisions on the eligibility of specific persons for social housing support and the allocation of that support are a matter solely for the housing authority concerned. I have no function in relation to any individual case with which a housing authority is or may be concerned.

Departmental Funding

 768. Deputy Pearse Doherty Information on Pearse Doherty Zoom on Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan when full approval will be granted by his Department for a project (details supplied) in County Donegal, which has been initially approved for funding by DLDC and has been referred to his Department for approval in December 2012; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the delay in granting final approval for this project has put this project significantly behind schedule for construction; if the project will be approved by his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16317/13]

 769. Deputy Pearse Doherty Information on Pearse Doherty Zoom on Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan the total amount of money that has been allocated to projects under the LEADER programme to date; the total amount of money available for allocation under the LEADER programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16318/13]

 791. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív Information on Éamon Ó Cuív Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan when a LEADER project (details supplied) which has been with his Department since the 7 of December 2012 will be approved; the reason for the delay with this project; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16633/13]

 798. Deputy Tom Fleming Information on Tom Fleming Zoom on Tom Fleming asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan when an approval will issue in respect of LEADER funding for a development (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16748/13]

 824. Deputy Michael McGrath Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan the date on which he intends to release the remaining €120m of the rural development programme project funds for allocation to projects in 2013; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17063/13]

 840. Deputy Peadar Tóibín Information on Peadar Tóibín Zoom on Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan the reason there is a stop on the granting of funds (details supplied); and when this stop on grants will be lifted. [17416/13]

 857. Deputy Jim Daly Information on Jim Daly Zoom on Jim Daly asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan the reason that all LEADER groups were instructed not to evaluate any more projects until his Department confirmed the budget that was available in the different measures under the rural development programme for the remainder of 2013; if he will advise when confirmation of budgets will be provided by his Department; if his attention has been drawn to the effect that this is having precluding LEADER groups from providing any funding to start-up companies in view of the fact that they have no budget available; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17676/13]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Phil Hogan): Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan I propose to take Questions Nos. 768, 769, 791, 798, 824, 840 and 857 together.

In late 2011 the European Commission approved a change in the maximum co-funding rate from 55% to 85% for the Axes 3 and 4 elements (LEADER) of Ireland’s Rural Development Programme (RDP) 2007-2013. Prior to this the LEADER elements were co-funded at a rate of 55% by the EU, with the remaining 45% coming from national exchequer sources. The 2011 agreement reduced the national exchequer input to 15% on a net basis for 2012 and 2013 without a concomitant increase in the amount of funding to be provided by the EU. This resulted in a reduction in the overall Programme complement from €427m to approximately €314m on the basis of the Programme achieving full spend by the end of 2013.

Axes 3 and 4 of the RDP has already allocated significant resources to rural communities all over Ireland with just over €200 million allocated to date. However, given the levels of spending by the Local Development Companies (LDCs) from 2009 to date, it is very unlikely that full spend will be achieved by the end of 2013, at which time the co-funding rate will revert to 55% for all expenditure beyond that date. As a consequence of this the overall Programme requirement will change. In the context of these changes to the co-funding rate the original project allocations given to each LDC contracted to deliver the LEADER elements of the RDP require readjustment.

An exercise is currently being carried out to determine the level of project commitments across all LDCs and all RDP measures in order to rebalance the programme in as equitable a way as possible. It will not be possible to be definitive regarding the remaining funding available for project commitments until such time as this rebalancing exercise has been satisfactorily completed.

I expect this exercise to be completed shortly and following this my Department will be in contact with all LDC s regarding allocations and any specific projects which are awaiting Departmental approval.

  Question No. 770 answered with Question No. 759.

Household Charge Collection

 771. Deputy Joe Higgins Information on Joe Higgins Zoom on Joe Higgins asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan the number of households broken down by local authority area that have currently registered for the household charge; the total number of households broken down by local authority area targeted by the Local Government Management Authority for registration for the household charge; if he will provide a breakdown of figures of those households that have registered for the household tax between those that are the registrations of single home owners and those that form part of multiple registrations by the same owner. [16331/13]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Phil Hogan): Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan The Local Government (Household Charge) Act 2011 provides the legislative basis for the Household Charge. Under the Act, an owner of a residential property on the liability date is liable to pay the Household Charge, unless otherwise exempted or entitled to claim a waiver. It is a matter for an owner of a residential property to determine liability and pay the Charge. The Local Government Management Agency is administering the Household Charge system on a shared service/agency basis for all county and city councils. I understand from data provided by the Agency that as of 11 April 2013 the number of registrations, including waiver registrations, for the Household Charge is 1,187,979.

  I understand, again from data provided by the Agency that as of 11 April 2013 the number of owners that have registered multiple properties for the Household Charge is 121,940. These numbers should not be regarded as definitive, as multiple accounts in relation to separate properties may be created by an owner.

  The following table details the total number of properties registered for the Household Charge by local authority area, the number of estimated liable properties, and the percentage of the properties registered per estimated number of liable properties.

County/City Council
Total Properties Registered
Estimated No. of Liable properties
Properties Registered as a % of Liable Properties
Carlow
13,364
18,257
73.20%
Cavan
18,424
25,611
71.94%
Clare
35,615
45,786
77.79%
Cork City
29,638
41,649
71.16%
Cork County
101,565
143,887
70.59%
Donegal
40,485
65,331
61.97%
Dublin City
144,547
190,685
75.80%
Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown
65,309
74,390
87.79%
Fingal
66,210
90,286
73.33%
Galway City
21,740
27,086
80.26%
Galway County
45,761
62,851
72.81%
Kerry
45,765
58,792
77.84%
Kildare
49,033
68,215
71.88%
Kilkenny
23,234
32,067
72.45%
Laois
17,740
26,185
67.75%
Leitrim
9,845
13,069
75.33%
Limerick City
14,947
20,380
73.34%
Limerick County
33,959
46,473
73.07%
Longford
9,785
12,928
75.69%
Louth
27,232
41,176
66.14%
Mayo
42,037
51,363
81.84%
Meath
41,394
60,652
68.25%
Monaghan
14,755
20,176
73.13%
North Tipperary
19,201
24,839
77.30%
Offaly
16,875
25,224
66.90%
Roscommon
18,352
23,888
76.83%
Sligo
19,576
25,281
77.43%
South Dublin
55,797
81,822
68.19%
South Tipperary
22,130
30,368
72.87%
Waterford City
11,257
15,753
71.46%
Waterford County
17,550
24,777
70.83%
Westmeath
21,663
29,872
72.52%
Wexford
39,483
56,030
70.47%
Wicklow
33,711
45,665
73.82%
National
1,187,979
1,620,814
73.30%

Alignment Working Group

 772. Deputy Brian Stanley Information on Brian Stanley Zoom on Brian Stanley asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan in order to build greater trust and collaboration between the local government and local development sectors, if he will consider establishing a position for a staff representative of the local development companies on the Alignment Implementation Working group; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16342/13]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Phil Hogan): Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan I established the Alignment Working Group to advise on the implementation of the new arrangements for an enhanced alignment between the local government and local development sectors. The Group comprises representatives from the City and County Managers Association, the Irish Local Development Network and Pobal, as well as my Department.

The Irish Local Development Network has three places on the Working Group and it is a matter for that body to select its nominees to fill these positions. It is the responsibility of the representatives from each sector to consult with their nominating bodies and other relevant stakeholders as part of this process. Such a consultative approach by key partners to this change process can work to enhance trust and collaboration across the sectors.

Fire Safety Regulations

 773. Deputy Finian McGrath Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan his views on correspondence (details supplied) regarding fire, health and safety regulations.  [16350/13]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Phil Hogan): Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan Fire safety in the design and construction of new buildings, including emergency escape lighting, is governed by Part B of the 1997 – 2008 Building Regulations, made under the Building Control Act, 1990. Primary responsibility for compliance with the Building Regulations rests with the builders and owners of buildings. Guidance on how to comply with Part B is set out in Technical Guidance Document B (TGD B) published by my Department.

Section 18 (Part 3) of the Fire Services Act, 1981 and 2003 places a duty on persons having control over premises to take all reasonable measures to guard against the outbreak of fire and to ensure the safety of persons on the premises in the event of an outbreak of fire. The Code of Practice for the Management of Fire Safety in Places of Assembly, published by my Department, provides guidance to persons in control of places of assembly as to the measures necessary to discharge these statutory obligations. The Fire Safety in Places of Assembly (Ease of Escape), Regulations, 1985 require persons in control of premises to ensure that all escape routes to a place of safety are kept unobstructed and immediately available for use.

Section 22 of the Fire Services Act, 1981 and 2003 empowers fire authorities to inspect any land or building, including leisure complexes, for the purpose of the Act. Under the Act, fire authorities can pursue enforcement of fire safety matters, including the management of fire safety.

Health and Safety legislation and regulations are a matter for the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation.

I am arranging that your correspondence will be provided to Fingal County Council and the Chief Fire Officer of Dublin Fire Brigade for attention and any necessary action to be undertaken.

Tenant Purchase Scheme Eligibility

 774. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív Information on Éamon Ó Cuív Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan if there is any tenant purchase scheme in place since 31 December 2012 for tenants of local authorities to buy out their houses; if it is intended to introduce such a scheme again; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [16375/13]

Minister of State at the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Jan O'Sullivan): Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan There is no tenant purchase scheme in place for existing local authority houses since the 1995 scheme closed for new applications on 31 December 2012. However, two tenant purchase schemes by way of incremental purchase remain in operation, one for newly-built local authority houses and the other for existing local authority apartments.

It is intended to advance the necessary legislative proposals as soon as practicable to underpin an incremental purchase scheme for existing local authority houses. Such a scheme will involve discounts for tenants, linked to household income and a discount-related charge on the property that will dwindle away over a period unless the house is resold or the purchaser fails to comply with conditions of the sale. The precise terms of the new scheme will be set out in regulations when the enabling legislation is enacted.

Planning Issues

 775. Deputy Jim Daly Information on Jim Daly Zoom on Jim Daly asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan further to Parliamentary Questions Nos. 383 and 384 of 26 March 2013, if he will request the information sought from each local authority; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [16388/13]

Minister of State at the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Jan O'Sullivan): Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan Conditions attached to planning permissions for residential development must require the giving of sufficient security prior to commencement of development. The form of the bond, the amount and the terms attached are matters for the planning authority concerned and the arrangement entered into must enable the planning authority, without cost to itself, to complete the necessary services (including roads, footpaths, water mains, sewers, lighting and open space) to a satisfactory standard in the event of default by the developer. While my Department is preparing revised guidelines on bonds for issue shortly, I do not propose to collect information on bonds held by each of the local authorities. Such information may be obtained from the authorities directly.

The following information was provided under Standing Order 40A

In earlier questions on the matter, Deputy Daly asked me to provide details in relation to (1) the value of security held on a county basis by local authorities in relation to bonds held for the satisfactory completion of housing estates for each of the past five years and (2) the amount of security bonds claimed by local authorities on a county basis for each of the past five years (Questions Nos. 383 and 384 of 26 March). In my reply I informed Deputy Daly that the information sought was not available in my Department. That is the factual position.

  In his more recent question Deputy Daly asked me if, further to Questions Nos. 383 and 384 of 26 March, I would request from each local authority the information sought in his question. As indicated in my reply to his question, I do not propose to collect the information, although I would again point out that the information would be available to Deputy Daly directly from each local authority on his request.

  I note that in Questions Nos. 383 and 384 of 26 March, Deputy Daly makes reference to Question No. 137 of 13 March which deals with development contributions. There is an important distinction between the data provided in relation to development contributions in my reply to Question No. 137 which related to amounts collected by and owed to local authorities and bonds which are held as security by local authorities.

Building Regulations Application

 776. Deputy Nicky McFadden Information on Nicky McFadden Zoom on Nicky McFadden asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan if the Architects Registration Body published its 2010, 2011 and 2012 annual reports as stipulated in section 73 of the Building Control Act 2007; if published, if these reports may be viewed by the public; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16410/13]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Phil Hogan): Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan Section 73 of the Building Control Act 2007 requires a registration body, as soon as may be after the end of each year, to prepare a report of its proceedings under the Act during that year. It further requires the report, which must be published and available for purchase by members of the public, to include a copy of the body’s audited accounts in so far as they relate to its income and expenditure in respect of the performance of its functions under the Act.

I understand that the RIAI, as registration body for the purposes of Part 3 of the Act, has reported on its registration activities in its annual reports for 2010 and 2011 and that this will be the case in relation to its annual report for 2012 in due course. The reports in question can be accessed free of charge on the RIAI’s website www.riai.ie.

Social and Affordable Housing Eligibility

 777. Deputy Ciarán Lynch Information on Ciaran Lynch Zoom on Ciaran Lynch asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan if it is permissible for a property bought under the affordable housing scheme to be rented to a third party when the owners circumstances have changed, can the scheme be varied by individual local authorities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16411/13]

Minister of State at the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Jan O'Sullivan): Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan Affordable housing schemes were introduced to facilitate home ownership for first time buyers. To this end, while the terms and conditions of the various affordable housing schemes do not prohibit an affordable home owner from renting out a spare room in his/her home, a local authority may attach conditions to the contract with the purchaser pertaining to the sub-letting of the unit and its use by the purchaser as his/her normal place of residence. A breach of contract conditions would be a matter for a local authority to pursue as appropriate given the particular circumstances involved. The administration of the various affordable housing schemes is a matter entirely for local authorities.

The Government’s 2011 housing policy statement announced the standing down of all affordable housing schemes, including the shared ownership scheme, as part of the review of Part V of the Planning and Development Act 2000. Any future changes to legislation governing affordable housing schemes will be made in the context of this review and I expect to make announcements in this regard in the coming months.

Strategic Development Zones

 778. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan Information on Maureen O'Sullivan Zoom on Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan following his press release of 19 December 2012 on the designation of Dublin Docklands areas as Strategic Development Zones, if he intends to realise the need for fostering of community interaction and local initiatives to ensure that the area continues to grow in a sustainable and inclusive manner; the role he envisages for the Docklands communities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16423/13]

Minister of State at the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Jan O'Sullivan): Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan On 18 December 2012, and pursuant to my proposal, the Government designated the North Lotts and Grand Canal Dock areas of the Dublin Docklands as a Strategic Development Zone (SDZ). This will provide for continued fast-track planning in the designated areas on the wind up of the Dublin Docklands Development Authority (DDDA) by the end of this year, as approved by the Government in May 2012.

Since the designation, Dublin City Council, the development agency in this case, has published its SDZ Draft Planning Scheme, the preparation of which involved wide-ranging consultations, including input from the DDDA Executive Board, DDDA Council (comprising local stakeholders, including local community representatives) and DDDA Community Liaison Committee. The SDZ Draft Planning Scheme will remain on public display until 10 May 2013, until which time interested parties, including the Docklands communities, may make written submissions or observations. Approval of the Scheme will ultimately be a matter for the elected members of Dublin City Council, or an Bord Pleanála on appeal.

In addition to the extensive public consultation exercises which form part of the SDZ process, I acknowledge the further need to foster community interaction and local initiatives to ensure that the Dublin Docklands area continues to grow in a sustainable and inclusive manner. The precise modalities to ensure such community participation into the future will be addressed as part of the necessary preparations for the migration to new dockland development arrangements to be decided by Government.

Heritage Centres Funding

 779. Deputy Joan Collins Information on Joan Collins Zoom on Joan Collins asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan if it has been brought to his attention that in 2008 Sligo County Council sought approval from his Department to the raising of a loan of €6.4 million for a new Sligo Museum and an extension to the Model Arts and Niland Gallery, the total capital cost of the new Museum and extension to the Model and Niland Gallery was an estimated €23.5 million; if it was brought to his attention that the balance of the capital funding was to be provided by way of a contribution of €2 million from the Model Niland Gallery, a grant of €4.6 million from the Department of Arts, Sports and Tourism ACCESS I and II and Government grants of €10.5 million from the Gateway Innovation Fund and ACCESS III; if the loan was approved by his Department conditional on the balance of the funding being made available from the other sources; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16441/13]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Phil Hogan): Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan I refer to the reply to Question No. 167 of 7 March 2013, which addressed the position in this matter.

Urban Renewal Schemes

 780. Deputy Willie Penrose Information on Willie Penrose Zoom on Willie Penrose asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan if he will confirm that he has received submissions from Westmeath County Council in respect of the regeneration of areas (details supplied); if same will be expedited in view of the fact that the council is ready to proceed with the refurbishment works; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16478/13]

Minister of State at the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Jan O'Sullivan): Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan In June 2012, my Department invited each city and county council to submit proposals for the purchase or construction of new social housing units over the period 2012 - 2014. Westmeath County Council submitted a proposal to my Department for the construction of 6 units and the refurbishment of 4 units at Ennell Court, Patrick Street, Mullingar to include Valley Cottages, Trinity Cottages and St. Anthony’s Cottages.

My Department approved €840,000 for these works in July 2012. In March 2013 €420,000 was allocated to Westmeath County Council in respect of construction costs on the scheme this year, with the balance of funding to be provided in 2014.

In February, Westmeath County Council submitted a Project Appraisal for the proposed scheme and my Department is currently liaising with the Council with regard to specific design issues in connection with these works.

  Question No. 781 answered with Question No. 766.

Local Authority Funding

 782. Deputy Finian McGrath Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan if he will detail the benefits an estate (details supplied) in Dublin 9 will derive from the implementation of the residential property tax.  [16498/13]

 804. Deputy Peadar Tóibín Information on Peadar Tóibín Zoom on Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan the services persons living in an estate (details supplied) in County Meath will receive as a result of paying property tax in view of the fact that they already pay privately for their services. [16845/13]

 829. Deputy Terence Flanagan Information on Terence Flanagan Zoom on Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan if he will consider introducing a system where payers of the local property tax receive regular updates from their council on the way the revenue is spent with a breakdown across expenditure headings; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17108/13]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Phil Hogan): Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan I propose to take Questions Nos. 782, 804 and 829 together.

Under section 157 of the Finance (Local Property Tax) Act 2012, commencing in 2014, the Minister for Finance will pay into the Local Government Fund an amount equivalent to the Local Property Tax paid into the Central Fund during that year. The Government has indicated an intention to move from 2014, to 80% retention of all Local Property Tax receipts within the local authority area where the Tax is raised. The remaining 20% of the Tax collected nationally will be re-distributed on an equalised basis to local authorities within the context of the annual allocations of General Purpose Grants.

I expect the Local Property Tax to have multiple benefits, including, a more sustainable and resilient system of funding for local authorities and therefore a sounder financial footing for the provision of essential local services; greater local scope for financial decision making concerning service provision - in particular, the inclusion of the local variation mechanism from 2015 will further increase the autonomy of local authorities; and, a strengthening of democracy at local level with a more active relationship between local authorities and local electorates. A stronger democratic relationship and clearer lines of accountability can only have a beneficial impact on service provision from the perspective of the service user.

The Local Property Tax is not intended to reflect the degree to which an individual household, or set of households, receive services. Rather, Local Property Tax funding will reinforce the link between decisions on service provision as a whole in a local authority and the funding of those services.

Society as a whole benefits from the services local authorities provide, even when such benefits accrue at a community level, such as from the positive contribution libraries make to society as a whole, or the benefit of having access to services a household may need in the future, such as fire and emergency.

I anticipate that local financial reporting will ensure taxpayers and their elected representatives are kept abreast of the uses to which Local Property Tax revenue is applied in any given local authority. I do not propose to impose a central mechanism for such reporting; a function of the Local Property Tax is to enhance local accountability, not to increase Central Government demands on local authorities.


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