Deputy Michael Lowry has queried the overall mammoth reduction of the recognised unfinished housing estates to be exempt from payment of the local property tax. Whilst the Independent T.D. for Tipperary welcomed the extension of this exemption to a number of new estates across Tipperary, including the Ashgrove estate in Thurles, he went on to query the severe decrease in the total number of estates exempt from the charge compared to those excluded from the payment of the household charge last year and queried the logic and fairness of this decision. Furthermore questions need to be answered about the completion of the estates that have been removed from the lists.
Deputy Lowry stated;
“Whilst I understand and appreciate that some limited strides have been made nationally to tackle the issue of ghost and unfinished housing estates I would question the huge disparity between the figures exempt between last year and this year.”
“In Tipperary alone the number of unfinished estates recognised has decreased from 43 to 34. There have been huge changes and fluctuations on the North Tipperary list with 7 estates being new to the list and 13 being pushed off. Similarly the South Tipperary list has reduced from 16 estates to 12 with little correlation between the two. Of these 12 only 4 appear both last year and this year.”
“Nationally only 5,100 households out of 43,000 will retain their exemption. It is glaring obvious that the problem of unfinished estates has not been fixed so quickly, efficiently and to such a drastic degree in such a short period of time. Indeed whilst steps have been taken in Tipperary the removal of 25 estates is not a fair or real reflection of the realities on the ground. Are we to believe that these 25 estates have all been finished or should not have been included as exemptions last year in the first instance? I accept that in some cases the Local Authorities have stepped in and taken charge but it is implausible that across the country 7 out of 8 unfinished estates have been completed in the past year.”
“It seems that the abolition of these exemptions was done with no regard for the individuals in these areas and it seems that it is simply an easy way for the Government to draw in more cash. It seems that the Government are ignoring the realities to extend the tax net to as far a reach as possible.”
“The prevalence of unfinished estates is still one of the biggest unresolved issues in our society. The stresses and the difficulties of living in an unfinished estate cannot be underestimated. In many of these estates residents have no lighting, no paths, problems with water and sewage, huge trances of unfinished areas which may be covered in rubble or poorly fenced off. All too often these unfinished areas are unsafe and pose safety risks to children and individuals in the area or can attract anti-social behalf. It is draining to constantly live in such an environment and to look out onto such a scene with no help or no sign of resolution. It is my belief that not one person who lives in such circumstances can reasonably be asked to pay this charge.”