FÁS write off of €1.1m an ‘incredible waste of money’

Committee hears site purchased for €1.5m in 2005 now worth €150,000

Chair of the Public Accounts Committee, John McGuinness

Chair of the Public Accounts Committee, John McGuinness

Thu, Jul 4, 2013, 15:21

The write-off of €1.1 million on a temporary FÁS office and a site purchased by the agency for €1.5 million which is now on sale for a tenth of that amount has been described as “incredible waste of money for no benefit”.

The Public Accounts Committe heard this morning that, on foot of a 2004 Government decision to decentralise the FÁS to Birr, Co Offaly the agency took a 10-year lease on a building at a rent of €100,000 per year in the town.

It also purchased a site for €1.5 million in 2005, which was intended to house the agency’s permanent headquarters.

However, following announcements by the Government in 2011 and 2012 that the agency was to be disbanded and decentralisation of the organisation’s headquarters abandoned, the agency broke the lease on the rented Birr property and wrote off €1.1 million in fitting out that premises.

Speaking in front of the committee today, director general of FÁS, Paul O’Toole added that the site purchased for €1.5 million in 2005 was now on sale with a minimum value of €150,000.

Committee member Derek Nolan described the costs associated with the abandoned decentralisation of the FÁS headquarters to Co Offaly as “an incredible waste of money for no benefit for really a policy which was questionable in the outset”.

“In order to implement the decentralisation policy, 17 people were put in an office in Birr at a rent of €100,000 a year, a site for €1.5 million was bought which is now worth €150,000, five years into it the lease was broken (resulting in) a capital write off of €1.1 million in 2012,” he said, adding that in his opinion this constituted “an extraordinary waste of resources and a waste of money”.