Government reacts with financial package as flooding becomes hot election issue

The Government has rapidly agreed a series of new measures to provide relief to those people affected by flooding, as the issue of rising waters threatens to be a hot topic ahead of the upcoming General Election.

Local authorities will receive a further €10 million in addition to the €8 million previously agreed for the clean-up. The estimated cost of the damage to roads and bridges around the country stands at €60 million, the Cabinet heard.

The Irish Red Cross will be asked to extend its compensation scheme in order to provide financial assistance to sports and community facilities damaged by the six storms that struck the country in the last number of weeks. The Taoiseach will also convene a meeting of all insurance companies next week to discuss flood insurance. Relevant bodies will discuss how to aid those people whose property has been damaged and who do not have access to insurance.

In an attempt to provide an answer to the number of agencies involved, the Government has also agreed to the establishment of a new Shannon co-ordination group, the terms of reference of which will be agreed within two weeks. The establishment of a long-term flood forecasting system was also agreed.

The Government is also seeking to meet with the EU Commissioner to see if emergency work on rivers will comply with river directives. Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney has also received Cabinet approval for a fodder replacement scheme. This will mean farmers will be paid at the market rate for fodder destroyed by flooding. A hardship recognition case fund for farmers in very difficult situations will also be introduced, but details of this have yet to be decided. Farm family homes are also to be eligible under the Humanitarian Aid scheme.

Revenue has also made attempts to ease the burden on people and businesses by allowing them to defer the payment of local property tax, VAT, and PAYE/PRSI. The body has announced that property owners whose principal private residence has been flooded and who are in receipt of assistance through the Department of Social Protection Humanitarian Relief Fund can apply to have their 2016 Local Property Tax payment deferred regardless of whether they qualify for deferral under the normal criteria. Property owners should contact the LPT Helpline on (1890 ) 200 255 to make the relevant arrangements.

Business owners who have suffered flood damage to their premises and who are in receipt of assistance from the Government Support for Small Business Fund, via the Red Cross, should contact the Collector-General’s office on (1890 ) 20 30 70 to agree additional time to file returns and make payments or to agree suitable phased payment arrangements.

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