CORK City Council has one of the highest collection rates of the Derelict Sites Levy in Ireland, despite having collected just one fifth of all dereliction levies last year, new figures show.
Cork City is owed €4.2m in dereliction levies, money which could be “transformative” for Cork, said Sinn Féin TD for Cork North Central, Deputy Thomas Gould.
Mr Gould has called on the Government to progress the Derelict Sites (Amendment) Bill 2022.
A response to a Parliamentary Question by Mr Gould shows that Cork City Council had only collected 20 per cent of the Derelict Sites levy they applied last year.
Mr Gould said, “Cork City Council is owed over €4 million in Derelict Sites Levies. This money could be transformative for Cork. Applying the levy should act as an incentive to encourage those hoarding derelict sites to either bring them back into use or sell them to someone who will.
“This is a shocking indictment of the government’s failure to bring derelict sites back to use.
“Alongside this, local authorities consistently tell us that they do not have enough funding. Cork City Council face budget deficits regularly but there is €4.2 million in uncollected levies in the pockets of land-hoarders while ordinary people face cuts to housing maintenance.
“The Minister has given a commitment to improve compulsory purchase orders (CPO), but we are three years into this government and that improvement is nowhere to be seen. Across the entirety of 2022, only six sites were CPO’d in Cork city. These derelict buildings are dangerous, they are magnets for anti-social behaviour and they are an insult to those trapped in the housing crisis.
“My Bill would place an obligation on local authorities to report to the Minister on why they are not collecting levies and most importantly, force the Minister to respond with a plan for full collection.
“We know that the 109 sites on the Derelict Sites register currently in Cork city doesn’t reflect the true levels of dereliction and we need to see more sites on the register to reflect the reality and hopefully see potential homes brought back into use,” added Mr Gould.
A spokesperson for Cork City Council said less than half of all the current local authorities have billed for Derelict Sites levies for 2022.
“And within this, less than half have collected any monies due for the levies. Given the overall national low level of invoices generated for derelict sites and that the national collection levels are lower than 20 per cent, Cork City collection and invoicing levels are one of the highest in the county.”
Derelict sites levies are very challenging to collect, she said. There can be difficult family and financial circumstances, abandoned properties, distressed properties, receiverships, the owners cannot be located, or litigation between parties, she added.
National levy collection would be higher, if levies were easy to collect.
“We are working on a number of different schemes within the city to address vacancy and dereliction which will contribute to the positive urban fabric of the city,” added the spokesperson.