The Green Party has claimed that the United Left Alliance and the Anti Household Charge Campaign should take some credit for the shortfall in the local government fund which will lead to cuts to local library, arts and community services in Local Authorities around the country.
Speaking following correspondence to County Managers by Environment Minister Phil Hogan that they must prepare for cuts in the third quarter of 2012, Green Party Spokesperson for Environment, Community and Local Government, Cllr Malcolm Noonan said that the Anti Tax Campaign had a significant role to play in the funding shortfall and had misled many poor and vulnerable people into believing that a mass campaign of resistance would lead to the Government abandoning the household charge.
“While Minister Hogan’s plan for a blanket tax were was poorly devised and implemented, the ULA are now expecting councillors around the country to resist cuts that they have no control over largely because of their campaign,” said Cllr Noonan.
“Many people on low incomes were lied to by the ULA as they were in the anti bin tax campaign which ultimately led to the privatization of waste services in Dublin. Will the ULA back people in the courts when they are faced with prosecution? I don’t think so. But ultimately, the outcome of this campaign is that it will force Local Authorities to make hard choices between maintaining library services, arts grants and public realm maintenance and maintaining essential services such as roads, water and fire and emergency,” he said.
Cllr Noonan said that Local Government financing is now in real crisis with most if not all local authorities around the country facing deficits and significant cuts to services for 2013. He cited Minister Hogan’s failure to adopt a site valuation based property tax as a lost opportunity in terms of placing local government on a sound autonomous footing but also having in place a truly equitable tax where those who could afford it would pay more.
“A site valuation tax would have meant that many low income families would have a greatly reduced household charge and yet would still be contributing to the provision of local services,” he said.
He also said that Local Authorities should be allowed to collect revenue and keep it for use in their functional area rather than receive it as a Grant from Government.
“The collapse in development contribution levies will decouple Local Authorities from having to grant planning applications to generate revenue but Minister Hogan must include an independent, sustainable funding stream to enable Local Government to carry out it’s work on behalf of the communities they serve,” he concluded.