Record funds to boost community services

Funding for local authorities amounting to a record €817 million has been announced this week by the Irish Environment Minister, Dick Roche TD.

"Improved roads, caring for our environment, fire services, quality water supplies and a more intense focus on social inclusion and customer service are but a few of the large and diverse range of services demanded from the local government system in recent years," Mr Roche stated.

He promised that every effort would be made to deliver improvements to local services as quickly, effectively and efficiently as possible, and said the government recognised that adequate financial resources were crucial to a responsive and modernised local government system.

By establishing the dedicated Local Government Fund, the Irish government had delivered dramatically increased resources to local authorities in recent years, he continued, enabling them to meet challenges and provide quality environmental and social services to the community.

"The increase in allocations to local authorities for 2005 clearly demonstrates the commitment of government to the local government system and to ensuring that it is sufficiently resourced to deliver on its mandate of servicing local communities and local businesses," he said.

The 2005 general purpose funding allocations represent an average increase of around 8.7% before inflation over the corresponding allocations for the previous year. The increases are in addition to other state grants and locally raised income.

However, the Minister stressed that it would now be up to the local authorities to use the money to the best possible effect.

"At the same time as increasing the level of funding to local authorities to record levels, I will expect local authorities to ensure that this money is spent well and used efficiently," Mr Roche added. "I hope to work in partnership with local authorities to ensure they are not only adequately funded, but that they deliver value for money to all their customers and to the taxpayer."

By Jane Kettle



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