Sunday 23 October 2016

Council to splash an extra €40m on housing crisis

County manager Owen Keegan
County manager Owen Keegan

Dublin City Council (DCC) is set to spend almost €40m extra on "housing and building" next year.

The draft budget, due to be debated this week, will see an increase of some €30m in spending next year, bringing the overall funds at the council's disposal to more than €800m.

Due to escalating homelessness in the city, the additional funding will be swallowed up by the council's bid to ease the crisis.

In a report prepared by chief executive Owen Keegan, the manager acknowledges that "it has not been possible to allocate additional funding to expand additional services or commence new initiatives, except in the case of homeless services and other limited instances".


The spend on homeless services directly is estimated to come to €94m in 2016, €21m more than this year's estimated spend of €73m.

The budget expects €66.7m in funding from the Department of the Environment next year. It also assumed a total of €45.7m from the department towards this year's bill.

Overall the budget for housing and building has been increased from a €237.5m to €276.3m, an increase of €38.8m.

Areas such as agriculture, health, education and welfare will lose around €1m, while some €10m will be skimmed from 'miscellaneous services'.

The council will also have its spending on water services reduced by €11.8m.

Also included is some €600,000 for maintenance works on the Samuel Beckett Bridge.

Meanwhile, the city is to spend another €1m on its bid to become the European Capital of Culture in 2020, on top of the €500,000 already spent.

Payroll costs are expected to come to more than €381m.

Despite a boost to council income streams due to the recovery the increased demand for services and some "funding related developments" there is a risk that the city's funding base will not be adequate, the document warns.

Tribunal appeals for commerical rate valuations are one source of this potential funding reduction referenced in the report.

DCC chiefs have also warned that the Government must continue to fund the losses caused by the transfer of assets to Irish Water beyond 2016.

Council management warned that it was "imperative" that the Environment Department hands over some €14.5m in grant funding linked to the transfer of assets.

Last year Environment Minister Alan Kelly ruled that Irish Water would be exempt on paying commercial rates on infrastructure it now controls to allow re-investment in the network.

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