A CORK TD has criticised the Government for what he said was its failure to support Cork City Council in its collection of derelict site levies.
A written reply to a parliamentary question submitted by Sinn Féin TD for Cork North Central, Thomas Gould, showed that more than €4m is owed to Cork City Council in uncollected derelict site levies.
Mr Gould had asked Housing, Local Government, and Heritage Minister Darragh O’Brien for “the amounts collected, levied, owed, and owed cumulatively under the Derelict Sites Register; and the number of sites on each register by local authority for 2021, in tabular form”. Local authorities are required to submit an annual return to the department, providing information on the operation of the Derelict Sites Act 1990 in their areas.
In the written reply to Mr Gould’s parliamentary question, Mr O’Brien noted that four local authorities had yet to make returns and that the other local authorities around the country, up to December 31, 2021, are owed cumulatively €12,626,492 in uncollected derelict site levies.
Dublin City Council has the highest figure for uncollected derelict site levies at €4,756,429, with Cork City Council owed €4,200,000 and Limerick City and County Council owed €1,063,290.
Mr Gould described dereliction as “a scourge on our communities” and said derelict sites attract vermin, anti-social behaviour, and dumping.
“They are a constant visual reminder to people that this Government are not serious about tackling the housing crisis.”
Noting that there are 95 Cork city sites on the register, Mr Gould said this did not reflect the reality on the ground. “The Derelict Sites levy should be used as a tool by local authorities to raise revenue that can then be utilised to tackle dereliction.
“Instead, Cork City Council collected only €570,000,” a figure Mr Gould said represented only a third of levies applied. “I do want to commend the council, who have improved their collections on 2020 when they collected only 9% of the levies they applied,” he said. Mr Gould said there were “millions of euros in potential untapped revenue that could transform communities”.
“While it may be easy to blame individual local authorities, we have to be realistic that when no local authority collects more than one third of the amounts they levied, there is a much bigger problem here,” he said.
“That problem lies at the feet of central Government.”
Mr O’Brien said that “addressing vacancy and dereliction and maximising the use of the existing housing stock is a priority objective of the Government, as evidenced by the recently-published ‘Housing for All — A New Housing Plan for Ireland’, where one of the four pathways in the plan is specifically dedicated to this area. My department initiated a review of the act in November, 2021, and has sought initial submissions from local authorities on potential improvements to the legislative provisions,” he said.
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