Local authorities spend less than half of allocation for Traveller accommodation

Some counties have drawn down no funds for Traveller accommodation over past two years

Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Council, in whose area 10 members of one Traveller family died in a fire on an unauthorised site in October 2015, had the largest draw-down, spending €1.95 million on Traveller accommodation since January 2016 – just over the €1.92 it was allocated. It was the only local authority to overspend on Traveller accommodation. Photograph: Getty Images

Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Council, in whose area 10 members of one Traveller family died in a fire on an unauthorised site in October 2015, had the largest draw-down, spending €1.95 million on Traveller accommodation since January 2016 – just over the €1.92 it was allocated. It was the only local authority to overspend on Traveller accommodation. Photograph: Getty Images

 

Almost half the money allocated to local authorities for Traveller accommodation over the past two years has not been spent, figures from the Department of Housing show.

Some €14.5 million was allocated to the 31 local authorities between 2016 and 2017 for Traveller housing. Just €4.2 million of the €5.5 million allocated was drawn down last year. So far this year, of the €9 million allocated just €3.1 has been drawn down, meaning that there has been a total underspend of €7.2 million over the two-year period.

A number of counties have not drawn down funds in either year. This is despite what Traveller campaigners have described as a “Traveller housing crisis within a housing crisis”.

The number of Traveller families living on unauthorised sites – usually without running water or a secure electricity supply – or in overcrowded conditions continues to increase. The latest data for 2016 show there were 1,499 families in such conditions, up from 1,396 in 2015 and 1,172 in 2014.

Children in these families are more likely to be living in severe poverty and to suffer chronic illness and education under-attainment than their settled peers.

Among those local authorities which have drawn down no money in the past two years is Clare County Council. It has been allocated €369,200 and has 12 Traveller families living by the side of the road and 12 in overcrowded conditions, according to department figures.

Cork County Council, which has 34 Traveller families by the side of the road and 42 in overcrowded conditions, was allocated €140,000 and has drawn down nothing.

Kildare County Council, allocated €280,000 but having drawn down nothing, has 33 families by the side of the road and 26 in overcrowded housing, while Sligo Co Council – allocated €161,250 but has drawn down nothing – has 10 families by the side of the road and 12 in overcrowded housing.

Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Council, in whose area 10 members of one Traveller family died in a fire on an unauthorised site in October 2015, had the largest draw-down, spending €1.95 million on Traveller accommodation since January 2016 – just over the €1.92 it was allocated. It was the only local authority to overspend on Traveller accommodation.

Cork City Council drew down €1.5 million over the two years, some €320,000 less than was allocated to it, while Dublin City Council spent €902,000, almost €1 million less than the €1.82 million allocated to it over the two years.

Sinn Féin’s housing spokesman, Eoin Ó Broin, who obtained the figures, described the almost 50 per cent underspend as “stark”.