Confusion over unspent €10.74m

by Aisling Kennedy

CONFUSION over how €10.74m should be spent on social housing by Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council is mounting this week as both the council and the Department of Environment dispute which of them is responsible for the allocation.
At a recent council meeting, it emerged that the €10.74m that is currently being held by the council for social housing could not be spent until it received a directive from the Minister for the Environment, Alan Kelly.
The €10.74m came from the collection of local property tax (LPT) funds in the Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown constituency in 2015.
A spokesperson for Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council told The Gazette: “Of the council’s 2015 LPT allocation[€43m], €18.59m was allocated to the housing capital area.
“From that €18.59m, €7.85m was allocated to fund specific housing initiatives and schemes, with the balance of €10.74m to be used to self-fund extra services required to deliver the new social housing strategy in 2015.”
The spokesperson added: “Clarification will be sought from the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government in relation to the €10.74m and the spending area to which it is to be allocated.”
When contacted by The Gazette, a spokesperson for Minister Kelly said: “We’ve no knowledge of a specific €10m to Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown for housing, as referred to.
“In respect of Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council, the target was 681 social housing units with €61m funding provision.
“Identifying and developing new social housing projects in relation to that target is a matter for the local authority.”
Cllr Melisa Halpin (PBPA) said: “We’re in the biggest housing crisis that the country has ever seen, with 6,000 people currently on the housing waiting list in Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown.
“There are endless people sleeping in hotel rooms, and then we hear that there is €10m there for the last few months that the council hasn’t been allowed to spend because the Minister hasn’t released any regulations for it.
“That is a lot of money that is just sitting around while people are living in the worst situations.”
Cllr Shane O’Brien (SF) said: “The fact that €10m which was allocated for housing capital and represents 20% of all LPT monies collected remains sitting in a bank account clearly shows that Minister Alan Kelly and his Department do not fully understand the scale of the crisis we are facing at this present moment.”
Cllr O’Brien said that he put forward a motion that was passed at the council meeting that “demanded that the council write to the Department of Environment immediately, requesting guidelines on how the €10m can be used to fund housing developments across the county”.

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