Baby steps: The expanding financial base of local government in Ireland

Open access

Abstract

There are two essential elements to this paper. In the first instance, we explore the specific details of revenue and expenditure trends for local authorities over the last decade. The analysis is framed against a longer-term political context of forty years which focuses especially on the weakness of local government in Ireland. Despite an official narrative of financial overdependence on central government, the comparative examination of budgetary records of local authorities reveals considerable diversity in both the revenue and expenditure patterns of authorities across the state. While some authorities are heavily reliant on central government funding, others have a much stronger base of local funding, and indeed the financial crisis since 2008 may have increased these differences. The second dimension to the research is an exploration of the impact of the great recession from 2008 on local government finance in Ireland. Using a framework of new institutionalism, we identify the crisis as another critical moment for local government. We consider the political, economic and administrative variables which have brought local government to a financial crossroads, and we explore the potential for long-lasting financial change in local government, as well as speculating on the nature and outcome of that change.

Advisory Expert Committee on Local Government Reorganisation and Reform. (1991). Local government reorganisation and reform. Dublin: The Stationery Office.

Blochliger, H., Brezzi, M., Charbit, C., Migotto, M., Pinero Campos, J. M., & Vamalle, C. (2010). Fiscal policy across levels of government in times of crisis. OECD Working Papers on Fiscal Federalism in Times of Crisis, 12.

Blochliger, H., & Nettley, M. (2015). Sub-central tax autonomy: 2011 update. OECD Working Papers on Fiscal Federalism, 20.

Blochliger, H., & Rabesona, J. (2009). The fiscal autonomy of sub-central governments: An update. OECD Working Papers on Fiscal Federalism, 9.

Bulmer, S., & Burch, M. (2001). The Europeanisation of central government: The UK and Germany in historical institutionalist perspective. In G. Schneider & M. Aspinwall (Eds), The rules of integration: Institutionalist approaches to the study of Europe. Manchester: Manchester University Press.

Callanan, M., Murphy, R., & Quinlivan, A. (2014). The risks of intuition: Size, costs and economies of scale in local government. The Economic and Social Review, 45 (3), 371–403.

Chubb, B. (1992) The government and politics of Ireland. UK: Pearson Education.

Collins, N., & Quinlivan, A. (2010). Multi level governance. In J. Coakley & M. Gallagher (Eds), Politics in the Republic of Ireland. London: Routledge.

Commission on Taxation. (2009). Commission on Taxation report. Dublin: The Stationery Office.

Considine, J., & Reidy, T. (2012). The Department of Finance. In M. MacCarthaigh & E. O’Malley (Eds), Governing Ireland. Dublin: Institute of Public Administration.

Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government. (2013). Local authority annual financial statement outturn 2012. Retrieved from http://www.environ.ie/en/Publications/LocalGovernment/Administration/FileDownLoad,39591,en.pdf [15 July 2015].

Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government. (2008). Stronger local democracy: Options for change. Dublin: The Stationery Office.

Hall, P. A., & Tayor, R. C. A. (1996). Political science and the three new institutionalisms. Political Studies, 44 (5), 836–957.

Indecon International Economic Consultants. (2005). Review of local government financing. Report to the Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government. Dublin: The Stationery Office.

KPMG Consultants. (1996). The financing of local government in Ireland. Dublin: The Stationery Office.

Lee, J. J. (1989). Ireland 1912–1985: Politics and society. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Melia, P. (2015, February 16). Weak financial controls in local authority system. Retrieved from http://www.independent.ie/irish-news/special-reports/weak-financial-controls-in-local-authority-system-30994823.html [15 May 2015].

National Economic and Social Council. (1985). Financing of local government in Ireland. Dublin: The Stationery Office.

O’Connor, T. (2009) Financing local government – The rating system. Department of Government Working Paper Series, 30, 1–17.

OECD. (2011). Fiscal decentralisation: Sub-central government’s share in general government revenues and expenditures (2011). doi: 10.1787/gov_glance-2013-graph54-en. Retrieved from http://www.oecdilibrary.org [15 July 2015].

OECD. (2015). Expenditures structure by level of government. In OECD, Government at a glance 2015. Paris: OECD Publishing.

Robbins, G., Turley, G., & McNena, S. (2014). From boom to bust? The financial performance of city and county councils. Administration, 62 (1), 119–51.

Steinmo, S., Thelen, K., & Longstreth, F. (Eds) (1992). Structuring politics: Historical institutionalism in comparative analysis. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Turley, G., & Flannery, D. (2013). The impact of the economic boom and bust on local government budgets in Ireland. Administration, 61 (2), 33–56.

Wright, R. (2010). Strengthening the capacity of the Department of Finance. Dublin: The Stationery Office.

Administration

Journal of the Institute of Public Administration of Ireland

Journal Information

Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 0 0 0
Full Text Views 266 210 8
PDF Downloads 126 115 8