The decision of Minister Hogan to target Local Authority’s to make up the deficit in the controversial household charge can only be described as shameful and utterly unfair. As a nation wewere all lead to believe that the household charge was going towards additional services in Local Authority’s,which was not the case as 160million nationally was taken from the LA fund only to be replaced by the maximum compliance rate of all liable householders, which was never achievable. Coupled with theconfusion in making payment, especially if people did not use the online payment mechanise, added to the overall frustration amongst people. Offaly County Council are faced with the real prospect of a further reduction in the allocation from the Department. With reduction in roads, water, housing, emergency services and many more services within the LA since 2009, an additional reduction will see service drift into a dangerous spiral.
A wedge is been driven between people in Offaly, many people refuse to pay the charge as they feel they have contributed to development levies, stamp duty and other related costs in building or buying their home especially in the boom years, where prices were at a record high. Many pensioners feel they have paid their duty to society and others simply cannot afford to pay the charge. None of these issues were every addressed by the Government in the implementation of the household charge.
If the Offaly compliance rate remains at 54.6% we as a county will be subject to121k reduction in our allocation, this figure will be added to the 386k reduction the LA received from the Department in July due to non-compliance of the household charge. Offaly LA cannot sustain a 0.5m of a hit which will have an immediate effect on services. Is it fair that roads are not repaired or emergency service is not resourced adequately because the Minister wants to penalise the people of Offaly for thesecond time this year for lack of payment of the household charge. If Offaly’s compliance rate does not exceed 65%, everybody regardless if people have complied with the charge will be adversely affected. People in Offaly have a difficult choice to make, pay the chargeor allow the Government to reduce our allocation. It is important to note if householders are exempt from the household charge they still need to apply for a waiver in order to bring up the percentage compliance rate.