Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan’s term of office has been ‘disastrous’ and he has nothing to be proud of in the way the Household Charge was introduced, according to local Councillor Malcolm Noonan.
The Green Party was responding to new figures last week showing a 70% compliance with registration for the Household Charge. Cllr Noonan, who is Minister Hogan’s Green Party counterpart in the Environment and Local Government role, said that ‘self flattery’ would not deceive people about the mistakes that were made in the introduction of the charge.
“Minister Hogan’s distrust of Local Government means that the new Property Tax, like the Household Charge will be collected by the Revenue Commissioners and only then redistributed to local authorities,” he said.
“The best models of Local Government in Europe are based on local revenue raising powers being directly used for local services in collaboration with the citizen. Even at this late stage the Government should switch so that revenues raised locally stay local and communities have a direct involvement in how those monies are spent.”
Cllr Noonan says that the current level of compliance has been achieved at a very high price. Many local authorities have been forced to implement supplementary budget cuts to essential programmes because they did not meet their target.
“The Minister added fuel to the fire of the anti-household tax campaign by failing to communicate what the charge was for. He gave the campaign a head start and was always on the back foot,” said the Green Party councillor.
“The reality is that many local authorities are being punished by Minister Phil Hogan for failing to meet targets. They are facing into 2013 demoralised, in deficit and without adequate resources to run libraries, arts services, community development and estate management initiatives.”