By Cllr Brid Smith, People Before Profit Alliance. Labour and Fine Gael claim to be in opposition to the Government. Yet even though they have a majority on Dublin City Council, they had no problem passing on cuts in this year’s budget. The government has cut funding to the City Council this year by 6.3%. This amounts to a 20% cut in funding to the biggest council in the country since 2008.
This gives elected councillors a choice – to cut funding to housing, local amenities and services, to increase bin charges, rents and others OR to stand up to the Government.
No prizes for guessing which choice was made.
This budget abolished the waiver for bin collection for everybody on social welfare. It increased bin charges for the rest by 5%. In July the Council will impose VAT on all charges including bins by either 13.5% or 21%.
On top of this the budget for the fire service was cut. Funding to the BASE youth project in Ballyfermot was cut. And council rents for subsidiary earners was increased.
The same budget cut the rates for businesses by 2.4% and gave a further hand out to developers by cutting capital spending on social housing and giving extra to the council to lease property from developers. And all council workers have had their pay cut by over 17% in the last year.
The Current Situation
•Youth Projects serve the needs of the most at risk young people across our city.
•A total of 33,790 young people participated in CDYSB funded youth projects in Dublin in 2008
•It costs €20 million per year keep these projects funded.
•This works out at less than €12 per young person per week
•Youth Projects and Services help young people achieve their potential and are essential to creating and maintaining healthy communities.
What we are looking for
•An immediate reversal of the 2009 cuts to Youthwork funding
•Funding for Youthwork projects and services to be maintained at 2008 levels for 2010 in order to maintain all frontline services to the most at risk young people in Dublin
The PBPA statement follows a recent meeting of the Dublin City Council Finance Special Policy Committee, (SPC) where it was revealed that a case taken by the EU commission to the ECJ on the issue of Ireland’s failure to impose VAT on publicly provided services would mean VAT would have to be imposed on such services from now on.
The meeting revealed that local authorities are currently working with the revenue commissioners, compiling a list of Council services where VAT would be applied. It is intended that any changes in VAT law resulting from the Judgement will be brought forward in March/April in the Finance Bill 2010 with a likely implementation date of July 2010.
At the Dublin City Council Budget meeting on 21 December 2009, Killian Forde proposed the budget as Chair of the Finance SPC and voted in favour of it. As a Sinn Fein member he was apparently, in breach of his party’s mandate. The most controversial content of the budget was the removal of the waiver for social welfare recipients of the waiver on bin lifts (the waiver remains on the standing charge of €95 per annum).
Sinn Fein says he went against the party mandate on the budget given their opposition to the removal of the waiver but this is not the first time that SF councillors voted in differing ways on the budget. In the past a number of their councillors voted for and others against the same budget, all of which contained bin charges. It seems though that this has been a step too far and Forde has resigned from the party saying he would be guilty of “chancery” if he voted against this budget.
Last year, developers pulled out of a PPP deal with Dublin City Council leaving local residents of O’Devaney Gardens – and those in the St Michael’s Estate, Dominic Street and Croke Villas communities – high and dry because, as one developer, McNamara said, the housing downturn and the economic slump had “rendered these projects unviable”. When the private partner is afraid they won’t make enough money, they just pull out with minimal consequences.
The government are dishonestly suggesting that the current water crisis is purely the result of freak weather conditions or because of householders irresponsibly running taps. This is pure hypocrisy and dishonesty.