Reflecting the extremely difficult position in the public finances the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government will have a significant reduction in the finances available to it for capital spending over the next five years. In 2012, capital resources will be down to €861 million from €1.058 billion in 2011. Further reductions will occur to 2014, at which point the funding level stabilises. The Government anticipates that there will be a return to a more substantial capital programme after 2016.
In line with the Programme for Government, the key focus will be on water services investment. “Nearly €1.6 billion will be committed to help ensure we have an adequate capacity for future economic development and meeting environmental targets,” says Minister for Environment Phil Hogan TD.
The water services investment will be targeted at ensuring reduction in levels of leakage on public water mains through sustained investment in rehabilitation; providing upgraded and new water supply infrastructure. Investment will also continue in the group water sector and in smaller public water and wastewater infrastructure under the Rural Water Programme.
Over €1.4 billion up to 2016 will be invested in the social housing budget with the focus on the delivery of responses to the most acute needs. Funding of social housing provision by the voluntary and cooperative housing sector will be shared, with around half going towards special needs housing and half being used as an equity pool to leverage further investment by larger approved housing bodies in the provision of mainstream social housing.
“While the capital budget for the provision of social housing will be curtailed, the impact is being mitigated by the increased use of revenue-funded schemes, including leasing, for social housing supply, which gives us the opportunity to benefit from the better value for money which is available for rental in the current housing market,” says the Minister.
As regards Regeneration, funding in excess of €500 million will support the Limerick Regeneration Programme and other contractual commitments, with other funding being strategically re-prioritised for other regeneration and remedial projects. The Department will also continue its programme to enhance the energy performance of local authority housing stock and enable local authorities to maintain progress on returning vacant stock to productive use.
Capital investment will continue, at reduced levels, in the smaller programmes: rural development (LEADER), fire services, and libraries.