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Over €12million owed to the state in uncollected derelict sites levies – Thomas Gould TD

4 August, 2022 - by Thomas Gould TD

Sinn Féin TD for Cork North Central, Thomas Gould, has today slammed the government for failing to support local authorities in the collection of derelict sites levy. 

His comments come following a response he received to a Parliamentary Question, which shows that of €4.5m levied by local authorities in 2021, only €1.46m was collected. 

This leaves a cumulative debt of €12.6m owed to local authorities by derelict sites owners.

Teachta Gould said:

“Dereliction is a scourge on our communities – derelict sites attract rats, anti-social behaviour and dumping. They are a constant visual reminder to people that this government is not serious about tackling the Housing Crisis and that this government does not care about our communities.

“Across this state, there are only 1251 sites on derelict sites registers despite thousands of potential homes being left to rot. In Galway county for example, there is only one site on the register. We know this doesn’t 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, 19 local authorities did not collect a red cent despite some of these being owed well in excess of €100,000.

“Of the local authorities who did collect, none collected the full amount levied. We have millions of euro in potential untapped revenue that could transform communities and bring these homes back into use.

“The most sustainable home is the one that is already built. We are seeing huge impacts of climate change and we know that we need to be tackling this. The embodied carbon in these homes has to be considered when comparing them to new builds.

“While the government brings forward pro-developer policies that are only benefiting those who can afford to buy a new-built house, thousands of homes are being allowed to rot in the heart of our communities.

“Is it any wonder that local authorities are struggling to collect these levies? The Minister’s own Vacant Homes Unit – tasked with tackling vacancy and dereliction – has only one full-time staff member. 

“When asked about his plans for staffing the unit, the Minister for Housing admitted that, two years into the job, he did not know how many staff he would need. 

“The Minister was quick to announce a €450m fund to pay developers but let’s be clear, he has given local authorities €60,000 each to try to tackle vacancy and dereliction.

“The only way to explain the low collection rates is that local authorities know this government doesn't want to tackle landowners and hoarders. A government who puts developers first will never resolve dereliction.

“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. That problem lies at the feet of central government.”

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