Dublin City Council reverses proposed homeless service cuts

Wednesday 15 January 2014 00.04
Council managers had included a reduction of €6m for the homeless in the draft budget for 2014
Council managers had included a reduction of €6m for the homeless in the draft budget for 2014

Dublin city councillors have voted to reverse proposed cuts to homeless services and grants to the disabled.

Council managers had included a reduction of €6m for the homeless and €3.5m for the disabled in a draft budget for 2014.

An amendment motion from the Labour and Fine Gael groups of councillors presented at this evening's budget meeting prevented the cuts from going ahead.

The motion also prevented a 7% increase in rents for local authority tenants.

It also included a cut of 0.4% in the rates paid by city businesses to be made up by a reduction in money being set aside for appeals against the rate charges.

City Manager Owen Keegan said the cuts had been proposed to match the reductions in grants from central government.

It traditionally funded 90% of homeless services and 80% of disabled grants and he said he was very reluctant to set a precedent for making up the shortfall.

"If you step up to the plate and make good the reduction in funding there is only one direction that is going to go" he said.

Councillors were able to stop the cuts following meetings between the council management and councillors including Labour's Dermot Lacey and  Fine Gael’s Ruairi McGinley.

There was an extra €3m in grant funding from central government since the budget was drafted.

City officials also agreed to increase estimates for income from arrears on second home tax, investment income and new rate payers that councillors said were  too conservative.

Money set aside for the homeless cold weather initiative, the Poolbeg Incinerator and some contingency funds were also reallocated.

The council also benefitted from a revaluation of the rates paid for parking meters.

The budget was carried by 33 votes for, 14 against and two abstentions.

The budget was opposed by Fianna Fáil, Sinn Féin and left wing councillors who complained that the Government had reneged on its promise that 80% of money collected in Dublin city for the Local Property Tax would be spent in the city.

However, a Fianna Fáil motion to reject the budget was defeated.