Government Must Address Local Government Funding, Cork Chamber.

Cork Chamber today called on Government to introduce an appropriate funding model for local government to reduce dependence on business-related charges.

Commenting on figures in the Irish Examiner regarding the number of businesses before Cork District Court for non-payment of commercial rates, Chief Executive Conor Healy said, “The Government must ensure that local authorities are appropriately funded and that the dependence on commercial rates funding is reduced. Commercial rates remain one of the most substantial fixed cost for businesses and it is imperative at this stage to reduce the high reliance on business income by diversifying the funding streams through which local authority income is generated. Reducing the dependence on commercial rates will ultimately reduce business costs, improve competitiveness, increase economic activity thereby stimulating job creation and higher economic returns for the state.”

Mr. Healy continued, “The Chamber emphasises the need for strong, independent local government funding to be put in place. As highlighted in the Chamber’s Pre-Budget submission, the proposed local property tax presents a unique opportunity for Government to broaden and diversify the revenue stream and is key to the implementation of an improved multi-sourced local government funding model. It is imperative that income generated through these new sources of local authority revenue should be retained in the local authorities where they are generated.”

Acknowledging Cork City and County Council’s innovative utilisation of a proportion of rates to generate and grow new business activity, Mr Healy stated, “It is also essential that local authorities explore ways and mechanisms through which they can use the revenue they generate. Cork Chamber welcomes both Cork City and County Councils ring-fencing of 1% of rates income over the last two years for economic development measures in the Cork region. The Chamber believes that utilising revenue to support economic development in the region will further increase opportunities for economic recovery and growth and urges the Councils to protect and increase this percentage in the upcoming budget.”

Mr. Healy concluded by urging “those businesses who are currently experiencing difficulty in the payment of their commercial rates to contact their local authority to try to come to some understanding regarding overdue payments.”