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 Header Item Community Development Projects (Continued)
 Header Item Finance Bill 2014: Second Stage (Resumed)

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 856 No. 2

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Joan Collins: Information on Joan Collins Zoom on Joan Collins] There are other points about the innovative community development project. I ask the Minister to meet those involved in the projects in Dublin very soon to tease out the problems.

Deputy Mary Lou McDonald: Information on Mary Lou McDonald Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald The Minister read out all of the target groups involved, including children, lone parents, new communities, the unemployed, including the long-term unemployed, and every category he recited is box-ticked for the inner city of Dublin. I am very puzzled by this resource allocation model and how it functions because I cannot for the life of me figure out how such a model could be used to come to the conclusion that a 38% cut is viable, appropriate or merited in the case of the inner city. By the way, the 38% figure takes account of the nine month as opposed to the 12 month allocation and the figure still comes out as 38%. Does the Minister stand over this figure? I take him at his word when he talks about social inclusion and targeting the most disadvantaged. I can tell him that in the inner city of Dublin he will find communities and populations that are, unquestionably, among the most disadvantaged by comparison with anywhere else across the State. We must also bear in mind that, in the absence of a local development company, because the partnership was dismantled and has never been replaced, 15 inner city groups have come together as the Dublin Inner City Community Alliance. If the Minister was to meet them, rather than take my word for it, he would hear at first hand about the devastation this cut is going to cause. Will he meet them? Does he stand over this resource allocation model? He needs to go back and look at it, as there is no way - not a chance - this could merit a 38% cut in the inner city. I ask him to at least agree to meet this group.

Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh: Information on Aengus Ó Snodaigh Zoom on Aengus Ó Snodaigh The Minister made the point that it was for nine months. In the document I have before me we have annualised the figures and the figures I quoted to the Minister still show a 23% reduction in the case of Ballyfermot. This is the smallest of the allocations, but it is the equivalent of a cut of €163,191. In the case of the canal community and Rathmines partnership, it is the equivalent of a cut of €198,967. These figures are easily obtained and, while figures can often cloud the issue, I can give others for the equine centre or any of the groups dependent on the partnerships.

These cuts come on top of others. For example, in the equine centre which potentially could lose its manager there have been six redundancies since 2008. It cannot sustain that level of cuts and will collapse. It is a centre that caters for over 500 children a week and has moved young people from deprivation to employment, which is its purpose. It offers FETAC level 3 and 4 courses and is considering offering level 5 course for some of the children who in many cases do not have alternatives. That is the consequence of the cuts. I, therefore, urge the Minister to look again at this issue in the few short weeks available. He should seek to change the timeframe and the criteria used. In particular, he should look at the 25% figure for administration costs in the context of historical funding, not forever more but in recognition of the fact that there are different funding models and that these groups cannot change overnight, as they are expected to do. The announcement was made on 20 October, yet they are expected to submit a tender document by 19 December.

Deputy Alan Kelly: Information on Alan Kelly Zoom on Alan Kelly I know that the Deputies are raising this issue in the right spirit, which I appreciate. On Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh's last comment, the issue has been well flagged for a good period. On the point about the period of three months, to answer the question directly, the previous funding model applied for three months, which is the reason for having a period of nine months.

With regard to the resource allocation model, RAM, which uses the HAASE deprivation model index, I will make it available to the Deputies as that is the easiest way for them to scrutinise it, like anybody else. That is the fairest and most appropriate thing to do.

The key point is that, under this model, there will be change. The targeting is apolitical and not something that involves political allocations or anything like it. The allocations are assessed. It is an attempt to target the most deprived areas and ensure we have a balance between areas where other resources are available in order that we can intercept appropriately. It is done as fairly as possible, based on high quality, scientific data and is equitable. It deals with population and deprivation indexes across a range of analyses and data. It is important to acknowledge that, if funding was not going to other areas, the Deputies opposite would be asking why it was not going to them. It is the case in one scenario as it is in another. We have to be as fair as possible. We have to ensure the funding goes to the appropriate areas where other resources are available which can be intercepted to get them to where the real problems are.

If the group involved sees fit to write to me, I will ensure it receives a fair hearing as a group

Deputy Mary Lou McDonald: Information on Mary Lou McDonald Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald Will the Minister meet it?

Deputy Alan Kelly: Information on Alan Kelly Zoom on Alan Kelly I will ensure it receives a fair hearing as a group. That is a direct statement.

Finance Bill 2014: Second Stage (Resumed)

  Question again proposed: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."

Acting Chairman (Deputy Brian Walsh): Information on Brian Walsh Zoom on Brian Walsh When the debate was adjourned, Deputy Liam Twomey was in possession. As he is not present, the next speaker is Deputy Seán Kyne.

Deputy Seán Kyne: Information on Seán Kyne Zoom on Seán Kyne On the day when the unemployment figures are again showing an improvement and down to 11%, it is important to remember a few of the important points on the taxation measures included in the budget. The measures include the reduction in the top rate of tax from 41% to 40%, the increase in the standard tax rate band by €1,000, the USC rate cuts and the raising of the USC threshold to over €12,000, and the reduction in the pension levy from 0.75% to 0.15%, as well as its planned abolition in 2015. There is also certainty regarding the 12.5% corporation tax rate, which is very important in a constituency like mine, in which there are a number of multinational companies creating and providing employment.

There are a number of other positives not included in the Bill such as the decision not to increase the excise duty on alcohol. This is particularly important for the rural pub trade which mounted a strong campaign. We are aware of the importance of rural pubs as focal points for rural communities. I also point to the decision to retain the 9% VAT rate for tourism which, again, is hugely important in parts of my constituency such as Galway city, Connemara, the Aran Islands and Inishbofin Island.

On the arts, section 5 of the Bill increases the threshold by €10,000 to €50,000, meaning that the first €50,000 in profits earned by artists will be exempt from income tax. This is an important measure for the arts and the creative sector and, again, hugely important in the constituency of Galway West.

Section 11 extends the home renovation incentive to include rental properties and is also hugely important. Some substandard properties are being provided for students and others and this incentive will allow landlords to invest and improve these facilities to make them safer and warmer. I welcome the incentive, given, in particular, the success of the previous incentive provided in the non-landlord and non-rental market.

I welcome the decision in section 24 to extend the employment investment incentive scheme to medium-sized companies. We know the importance of micro and medium-sized companies in terms of the employment they create and it is important to extend the incentives available to recognise these important companies.

I welcome the decision in section 34 to extend corporation tax relief until the end of 2015.

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