€5.8 billion in funding was transferred from central Government departments to local authorities last year, down 5% on the previous year.

That is according to a report published by the Comptroller and Auditor General (C&AG), which outlines how Government funds are allocated to local authorities and the purposes for which funds have been provided.

It states that the decrease in funding from 2020 was mainly due to the reduction in Covid-19 support payments to local authorities.

Housing

The report reveals that €2.8 billion of the total funds transferred from central Government to local authorities was for housing and regeneration.

That was up from €2.5 billion the previous year.

The majority of the funds for 2021, €2.4 billion, went to the provision of social housing.

Transport

A total of €1.3 billion was transferred to local authorities to invest in the area of transport, up from €1.1 billion the previous year.

€571m of this was allocated by the Department of Transport for the upkeep of regional and local roads, and active travel, while €541m was allocated by Transport Infrastructure Ireland for the improvement and maintenance of national roads.

Meanwhile, the National Transport Authority provided €181m for public transport and active travel, while the Department of Rural and Community Development provided €22m for roads in rural and island communities

Environmental initiatives

Every year funding is provided to local authorities for a range of environmental services, including water and sanitation projects, waste management, and flood relief.

Today's figures show the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage transferred €76.1m to local authorities in 2021, of which €73m was for water and sanitisation.

The Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications allocated €43.9m, of which €39m was for waste management, while the OPW provided €25.6m, of which the full amount went to flood relief works.

The report shows that €8.8m, or over a third of that funding provided by the OPW for flood relief works was provided to just two local authorities - Cork City Council and Clare County Council.

Employment schemes

A total of €71m was transferred to local authorities last year from central Government for employment schemes, down from €91m in €2020.

The Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, through Enterprise Ireland, provided €31m for the local enterprise development programme delivered by Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs).

Meanwhile, the Department of Rural and Community Development provided €40m to local authorities for the Social Inclusion and Community Activation Programme (SICAP), which aims to support disadvantaged individuals with lifelong learning and labour market supports, and to address social equality and exclusion issues.

Covid supports

In 2021, central Government provided additional funding €637m to local authorities to mitigate the impact of Covid-19 restrictions on their operations, down from €1.42 billion the previous year.

Around 90% of the total funding in 2021 was provided by the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage via the Local Government Fund (LGF).

Today’s report states that the funding provided was mainly in the form of support for the local authorities to replace losses in rates income as a result of the commercial rates waivers operated during lockdowns, and to replace other forms of lost income.

The funding by central government of rate waivers also provided significant support to ratepayers.


Other services

Central government bodies also fund local authorities to assist in providing a wide range of other services.

Other miscellaneous services included funding of €8m from the Department of Health for the local authority veterinary service and €4m from the Department of Defence for civil defence activities.