Thursday 27 October 2016

'Faced with helping solve homeless problem, they did nothing' - Alan Kelly slams Dublin City Council for keeping property tax cut

David Kearns

Published 23/09/2015 | 10:29

Environment Minister Alan Kelly
Environment Minister Alan Kelly

Dublin City Council showed its true colours regarding the capital’s homelessness problem when it voted to keep the city’s property tax reduction says Minister for Local Government Alan Kelly.

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Condemning the decision, Mr Kelly said when faced with a choice of setting aside some of its funds to help tackle Dublin’s lack of housing for the homeless, the DCC “decided it was more important to decrease the property tax again”.

“I would have liked to have seen a commitment from the councillors presence to put forward some of their discretionary funds towards homelessness but they choose not to,” he told Newstalk Breakfast.

Read More: City council votes to repeat 15pc property tax cut

“The reality is that there is a number of councillors today who decided it was more important to decrease the property tax than to use some funds that are at their discretion to help those who are homeless. That’s a fact.

“When I hear some of their commentary, like from the Lord Mayor and other councillors… when I hear some of the comments they’ve made about homelessness. Well, when faced with a choice to help, we all know what they chose.”

Mr Kelly said he would continue to provide all the funding he could to help DCC turn around its boarded up social housing units “as quickly as possible” but that a decision from the council to use its discretionary funds would have sped up the process.

Read More: Soaring rents adding at least €700 a year to household bills

 “We’ll move on from it and whatever funding is required I will look towards getting  but from a council point of view, I thought it would have been a very mature thing to do to put aside some funding.

“[Instead] they decided not to do anything,” he added.

Dublin city councillors voted to reduce property tax by 15 pc again yesterday evening, against the recommendation of chief executive Owen Keegan. 

Councillors voted last year to cut the 2015 rate of property tax for householders by the maximum 15pc.

The repeat decision means homeowners in the city will pay the same rates of property tax in 2016 as applied this year.

Mr Keegan had recommended against the cut, which he said would result in an increased bill for city homeowners of €77.5m.

However, following heated debate at a special council meeting last night, an overwhelming majority of councillors (47) voted in favour of a motion to see the tax reduced again.

Read More: 'Government isn't doing enough to find a bed for the 1200 children who need one' - Dublin Simon Community

Labour Party members had proposed that the basic rate of local property tax should be varied downward by 7.5 pc.

But members of Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil, Sinn Féin and People Before Profit were among those backing the 15pc reduction for next year.

Speaking about the homelessness crisis in Dublin and elsewhere in Ireland, Minister Kelly said he was working with Finance Minister Michael Noonan to introduce a new ‘Rent Certainty’ clause – which would see rents capped at the rate of inflation.

This measure he said would be part of a package to be revealed before the budget next month.

“There’s no point in increasing rent supplement as amoral landlords will just pocket it by raising rents,” he added.

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