Housing Budget shouldn’t be used to refund water charges- O’Sullivan

21 July 2017

Labour Housing spokesperson, Jan O’Sullivan TD, has called on the Government to guarantee that the housing budget will not be tapped to refund water charges.

Last November, Deputy O’Sullivan questioned why the Department of Housing had an underspend of of €90 million at that time, in a Parliamentary Question to the previous Minister.

Deputy O’Sullivan said:

“Minister Donohue has said  that the money for refunding water charges could come from underspending.

“However given the extent of the housing and homelessness crisis, it would make no sense to dip into any unused funds in that department to put towards paying back water charges.

“As of the end of October 2016, the Department of Housing had an underspend of €90 million, however significant spending happens towards the end of the year.

“For many years it has been the practice that Local Authorities increase their housing spend significantly towards the end of the year, and it would be completely misleading to conclude that any underspend around budget time would imply that money can be taken from Housing and spent elsewhere.

“The previous Minister Simon Conveney indicated to me at the time that should there be any underspend at the end of 2016, he would consult with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform as to the ‘appropriate use of the resources concerned’.

“In light of the announcement this week in which the Government outlined its intention to refund water charges, I would call on both Ministers Donohue and Murphy to ensure that the housing budget is left untouched in this regard.

“It is vital to build new homes and bring back empty houses back into use, and there should be no question of treating underspends in housing as the year goes on, as money that can be used elsewhere.

“Every last cent is needed, and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform must allow for any leftover money to be carried over into the next Budget.”

ENDS

 

NOTES TO EDITORS:

Question No. 210

Chun an Aire Tithíochta, Pleanála, Pobail agus Rialtais Áitiúil:
To the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government:

To ask the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government the reason his department has an underspend of €90 million in capital expenditure at end of October 2016; the way he proposes to ensure that money allocated primarily to address housing need is spent; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
– Jan O’Sullivan.

For WRITTEN answer on Tuesday, 8th November, 2016.

REPLY

Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government (Deputy Simon Coveney)

The Revised Estimates Volume for Public Services 2016 , published by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform in December 2015 , provide d for gross capital expenditure of € 545 million in respect of my Department in 201 6 . Foll owing the transfer of functions from my Department in 2016 to the Department of Arts, Heritage, R egional, Rural and Ga e ltacht Affairs and the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment, the gross capital allocation to my Departmen t in 2016 stands at €473m . In addition , €32m is available for capital spending in my Department in 2016 following a carryover of unspent funding from 2015 giving a total available capital of €505m in 2016.

Spending at the end of last week in respect of capital programmes in my Department stood at €217 m . I expect significant further expen diture to take place by end 2016 ; traditionally, a very significant proportion of the D epartment’s capital spend takes place in the final months of the year when projects and initiatives come to a conclusion. If any savings emerge in the finalisatio n of Department spending in 2016 , consideration will be given, in consultation with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, to the appropriate use of the resources concerned.

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