The draft Dublin City Council Budget for 2014 has been described as totally unacceptable by the Sinn Féin Dublin City Councillors. The Draft Budget is due to go before the City Council on Tuesday next, 14 January. Speaking on behalf of the Sinn Féin group on the City Council, Councillor Mícheál Mac Donncha, a member of the Budget Consultative Group, said:
“The Budget being proposed for the City of Dublin for 2014 is totally unacceptable and will be strongly opposed by the Sinn Féin Councillors.
“This Budget would impose a 7% increase in rents for Council tenants from July 2014, to be followed by a further 7% imposed by central Government in 2015.
“Throughout the worst recession in decades Dublin City Council has managed to keep rents for tenants at a moderate level. Now, in anticipation of a Government-imposed rent increase in 2015, Council management want to push up rents by 7% this year. Given the delay in refurbishment and redevelopment programmes and inadequate maintenance by the Council due to staff and funding shortages, many of the homes on which rents are to be increased are sub-standard. And the rent rises are proposed on the warped logic that it would make it ‘easier’ for tenants to phase in the increase.
“People in Council accommodation are some of the worst hit by the recession and they are to be penalised again. We will not accept this in any shape or form. A key element in the proposed rent increase is to meet the City Council’s liability, imposed by the Fine Gael/Labour Government, for the Local Property Tax on Council homes. In other words a home property tax is being imposed on people who do not own their homes.
“The Labour Party made much of its alleged success in negotiating for 80% of the so-called Local Property Tax to be retained by the local authorities. But now we find that none of this will go to local authorities in 2014 at all. And the Non-Principal Private Residence (NPPR) charge (a tax we in Sinn Féin supported) which brought in €18.8 million for Dublin City Council is abolished in favour of the Local Property Tax, thus removing another source of Council income.
“This draft also budgets for the Irish Water debacle, paving the way for water charges and, ultimately privatisation. The scandal that is Irish Water has been further exposed in recent days with the revelation that €50 million has been spent on consultancy, despite the wealth of experience and expertise in local authorities from whom responsibility for water services are being removed. Minister Phil Hogan has treated Dublin City Council and other local authorities with contempt regarding the handover to Irish Water, refusing to meet us as requested and leaving us in the dark over many aspects of this and, indeed, other key changes in local government funding.
“Now more than ever before, Councils are expected to operate in a straitjacket imposed by central government. Councillors are being asked to accept in this City Council budget such disgraceful cuts as those to homeless services and to housing adaptation grants for older and disabled people, arising directly from Government austerity cuts. We in Sinn Féin will not do so.
“We call on all Dublin City Councillors to totally reject this Budget and to make a stand for the citizens of this city and for local democracy.”