LETTER FROM DEPARTMENT:
FAO: CEs of Local Authorities
Cc: Directors of Services
24 August, 2017
Re: Local Improvement Scheme 2017
Dear Chief Executive Officer,
In line with the commitment in both the Action Plan for Rural Development and the Programme for Partnership Government to promote increased funding for Local Improvement Schemes (LIS) the Department of Rural and Community Development intends to implement an LIS in 2017 subject to;
- a) the level of demand,
- b) the level of resources available, and
- c) the capacity of the Local Authorities to complete the scheme by the end of 2017.
I am aware that in order to implement such a scheme, a significant amount of preparation is required which will take some time to complete.
In that regard and in order to gauge the level of interest/demand, I am requesting that you compile a listing of proposed LIS projects, for submission to this Department, which will support an informed decision regarding the introduction of such a scheme this year.
The LIS projects to be included on the listing are entirely a matter for your Local Authority in line with the Department of Environment and Local Government memo of February 2002 (attached as Appendix 1) in conjunction with the clarifications/modifications outlined in Appendix 2 to this letter.
At this point in time the Department is gathering information and it is imperative, in order to support decision making, that each Local Authority compiles a listing of eligible projects and carefully determines what its capacity is, to complete projects during 2017.
Assuming a final decision regarding the scheme by mid-September, the final listing to be submitted to the Department must;
- be completed on the template provided,
- comply in all respects with the February 2002 DOELG memo and the additional clarifications/modifications outlined in Appendix 2,
- be submitted on or before the 14th of September, and
- should contain only those projects that the Local Authority is confident that it can undertake and complete during 2017.
I recognize that, with the introduction of several new schemes and the pressure to undertake and complete numerous new projects, a significant level of demand has been placed on Local Authorities during the past number of years.
I appreciate, very much, the efforts made by you and your staff and the high level of co-operation received in respect of all of the new schemes to date and I would urge you to make a particular effort with regard to this request.
A final decision regarding the implementation of an LIS for 2017 and the level of funding to be made available to each Local Authority is expected by mid-September. Therefore, I must reemphasize the importance of ensuring that all listings are submitted to the Department at LIS@ahg.gov.ie on or before the 14th of September.
Rural Policy and Schemes
LIS SCHEME MEMO:
|AN ROINN COMHSHAOIL
AGUS RIALTAIS ÁITIÚIL
Local Improvements Scheme
Grant Allocations 2
Statutory Powers 3
Eligible projects under Local Improvements Scheme 4
Selection of Projects – Priority on a county wide basis
Selection of Projects – Use of Chronological Based Systems 7
Size of Projects 7
Types of Works 8
Standard of Work 8
Recoupment of Council Expenses 9
Local Contributions 10
Council offers relating to Proposed Works 11
General Administrative Guidelines:
- Projects to be carried out in their entirety 12
- Projects to be carried out by agreement 12
Forms and Returns to the Department 15
Appendix 1 Form LIS 1 – Monthly Expenditure Claim Form
Appendix 2 Form LISOUT200_ – Outputs Form
Appendix 3 Text of Section 81 of Local Government Act, 2001.
- You will recall that the Department issued a new LIS Memorandum in 2001 to replace the LIS Memorandum 1997-1999. The 2001 Memorandum is being updated by this 2002 Memorandum in a number of respects but the main thrust (tone and content) of the 2001 Memorandum remains intact. The key changes being made relate to the statutory basis for the scheme and the method of calculating the local contribution. Both changes have been flagged to local authorities already.
The main changes compared to the 2001 Memorandum are to be found in paragraphs 1,4,5,14,27, Appendix 1.
The LIS Memorandum 2002 outlines in detail the conditions which will apply from 2002 onward governing the payment of grants to County Councils in respect of projects carried out under the Local Improvements Scheme. It includes details of local authority statutory powers, selection of projects, eligibility of works, recoupment of expenses, local contributions and general administration arrangements. The LIS Memorandum 2002 will apply until further notice.
The Appendix contains copies of two forms – a form for claiming expenditure on a monthly basis and an outputs form seeking details of works carried out during the year together with details of applications on hands which will form part of the process in determining allocations for individual county councils.
County Councils are asked to pay particular attention to the paragraphs which follow in relation to the selection of projects and eligible works.
- Grant allocations notified to individual County Councils are intended to recoup authorised expenditure properly incurred on eligible projects in the period 1 December of the previous year to 30 November in the current year. It is desirable that Councils should complete projects by 30 September in any given year so as to be in a position to draw down the full allocation and to ensure that the expenditure can be recouped in good time. In this regard, it should be noted that the final date for the receipt of claims for grant payments is the 6 December of the year of allocation. For many years this has been the final date for claiming all non-national road grants including the LIS.
If it becomes clear that an allocation is not going to be fully spent, the relevant county council should notify the Department at the earliest possible date. Any savings so advised will be reallocated at the discretion of the Minister to other county councils who require the additional funds for suitable projects and who will spend such funds in the current year.
Grant funds not expended in the years in which they are allocated will lapse and will not be carried forward to the following year. Failure by county councils to fully expend their grant allocation could influence the allocation for the following year.
Any expenditure incurred by County Councils which cannot be met from local contributions and grant allocations will not be met by the Department. No over-expenditure should be incurred in anticipation of future allocations.
- The Department will monitor progress on the LIS works programme. This monitoring will include spot checks focusing, inter alia, on compliance with the conditions set out in this Memorandum and on how allocations for the year in question are determined.
- The statutory basis for the Local Improvements Scheme with effect from 1 January, 2002 is now contained in Section 81 of the Local Government Act, 2001. The Local Government (Roads and Drainage) Act, 1968 has been repealed.
The full text of Section 81 as passed by both Houses of the Oireachtas on 21 July, 2001 is enclosed at Appendix 3.
Your particular attention is drawn to the following provisions:-
- Section 81(2): The Minister may make a grant to a road authority in relation to assistance by the authority towards the construction or improvement of non-public roads in its functional area.
- Section 81(3): A road authority may provide assistance by way of the carrying out of works, a financial contribution or otherwise towards the construction or improvement of a non public road which –
- provides access to Parcels of Land of which at least 2 are owned or occupied by different persons, or
- provides access for harvesting purposes (including turf or seaweed) for 2 or more persons, or
- shall in the opinion of the road authority be used by the public
- Section 81(4): Assistance by a road authority under this section shall be-
- conditional on a prior written agreement by the parties concerned with the road authority and a financial contribution by such parties, and
- subject to such other terms and conditions as the Minister may consider appropriate.
- Section 81(5): The provision of assistance by a road authority under this section does not make the authority liable for the maintenance of the non-public road in question nor impose any other duties or liabilities on the authority in respect of such road.
It should be noted that “improvement” includes associated drainage works. With effect from 1 January, 2002 drainage works on their own will not be eligible under the Local Improvements Scheme. It will only be possible for drainage works to be carried out as part of a Local Improvements Scheme.
- Eligible projects under Local Improvements Scheme
Eligible projects include:-
- Those determined as most requiring attention on a county-wide basis or electoral area basis in a small number of counties, subject to the paragraphs which follow.
- projects which provide access to parcels of land of which at least two are owned or occupied by different persons engaged in separate agricultural activities, or provides access for harvesting purposes (including turf or seaweed) for two or more persons or shall in the opinion of the county council be used by the public.
The following projects do not comply with the conditions of the Scheme:-
- roads serving only houses or buildings occupied or used by persons not engaged in agriculture.
- roads serving only Council cottages, i.e. non-vested cottages.
- roads or drains on bogs being developed commercially for large scale turf production for sale.
- drainage only works
- Selection of Projects – Priority on a county-wide basis
A key requirement in selecting projects for funding under the Local Improvements Scheme is that Councils should ensure as far as practicable that priority is given to projects most requiring attention in the county as a whole.
The responsibility for deciding the priority within the county is a matter for individual county councils.
However, the experience of the Department, is that this condition is being interpreted in various ways by county councils. In view of the fact that responsibility for the operation of the Scheme has been devolved to county councils, the Department does not wish to be overly prescriptive in this area in setting down guidelines to ensure that this key requirement is met. However, it is important that the approach of county councils is consistent and uniform to the greatest extent possible.
In considering therefore, how best to achieve the requirement of giving priority to projects most requiring attention in the county as a whole, the following points should be adhered to:-
- councils should update their list of applications on hands and cost the schemes and verify their eligibility before the end of each year so that reliable information can be given to the Department in LIS Output Circulars to be issued each December
- the priority to be accorded to projects, estimated cost of projects and decisions on eligibility are matters to be determined by the Council’s engineering staff.
- in the larger counties with a high volume of applications and where prioritisation on a county wide basis is difficult, the Council may prioritise on an electoral area basis with the electoral areas lists merging to become the county list. The county list must have regard to the worst roads in the county even if there is a concentration of the worst roads in one electoral area over another and the distribution of the allocation must target the worst roads in the county.
- in no circumstances should allocations be divided amongst elected representatives either individually or be divided between electoral areas on the basis of the number of elected representatives in each.
- To ensure the fairness and equity of the electoral area approach, it is suggested that allocations to electoral areas should be determined on the basis of the number of applications on hands in each electoral area.
- in determining priority on a county wide basis, regard should be had to:-
- the number of schemes on hands,
- the estimated cost of these schemes,
- the Council’s allocation for the year
- the length of time the scheme has been on hands.
- The number of parcels of land served/occupied houses served with those serving most to receive consideration for value for money reasons.
- The number of beneficiaries.
- The length of the scheme and extent of work required
- Whether there is a need to consider special circumstances in some cases, i.e. hardship, elderly or disabled occupants, etc.
- The condition of the non-public road.
County Councils should give a weighting to the above variables and use it as a means to determine priority on a county wide basis (or electoral areas in a small number of cases). However, this weighting should not discriminate unduly in favour of the date of the original application. Cognisance should be taken of the remaining variables also.
Selection of Projects:-
- Use of Chronological Based Systems:
- the use of an exclusive chronologically based system is not in accordance with the conditions of the scheme unless the projects chosen in this way are those most requiring attention in the county as a whole. It was noted in spot checks carried out that the chronological based systems in use are very inflexible and seem to take no account of exceptional cases, hardship cases, recently received applications. Value for money and efficiency requirements would suggest that if an application was received which served a number of parcels of land or houses and gave greater value for money then it should be treated as a priority over schemes with fewer beneficiaries which might be on hands for much longer.
- Size of Projects:
Responsibility for the day to day operation of Local Improvements Scheme has been devolved to county councils for some time. For this reason the Department does not propose to use this opportunity either to insist on a minimum length for each scheme or indeed a minimum cost. It is intended to leave this to the discretion of individual county councils but councils should, where unsure, abide by the following guiding principle, i.e.
- County Councils should not accept, for the purposes of grant
- minor proposals which are within the competence of the applicants to do themselves and/or
- projects which because of their small size would be uneconomic for the Council to carry out.
Subject to compliance with all other conditions in this Memorandum, county councils have discretion to judge for themselves the merits of individual cases in relation to competence of individuals to carry out projects and whether they are economic or not for the council to undertake.
- Types of Works:
Road projects may provide for the construction, improvement or reconstruction of roads or bridges. The works should not be ordinary maintenance of a kind which the applicants could reasonably be expected to do themselves, but should provide for essential works of a more substantial kind such as strengthening weak sections, rut filling, resurfacing and opening water channels.
Existing fences may also be removed, or set back and new fences provided, where necessary and feasible at reasonable cost and as part of a scheme. The provision of new fencing or replacement of existing fencing on their own are not eligible for grant assistance.
- A project may be extended to include a Spur Road or terminal section serving only one user if the particular road/section forms an integral part of the whole road and the cost of including it is not disproportionate to the cost of the road as a whole.
- 11. Section 81(3)(c) of Local Government Act, 2001 refers to works being carried out on roads “used by the public”. This means that works may be undertaken to a road which, while not a public road, may connect two public roads or give access to a beach or commonage and thereby serve the local community.
- Standard of Work:
The standard of work undertaken is a matter for the Council to decide, but the cost should be commensurate with the benefits which the improved road will provide. It should have regard to the cost of applications on hands and the allocation from the Department in a particular year.
Projects undertaken should aim to provide a soundly constructed and well drained road which is capable of being easily maintained by the users. In addition the quality of the work should be such as to last for several years.
Over-elaborate or too costly improvements should be avoided. The width, bearing capacity and standard of finished surface should be related to the needs of the users, with particular regard to the type of farm machinery using the road and the extent of tractor and lorry traffic.
Road projects should be confined to non-public roads subject to the exception outlined at paragraph 11.
An overriding issue in considering the standard to which work should be carried out is to ensure that value for money is obtained from the Council’s grant allocation and that the grant and local contributions are used efficiently and wisely.
- Recoupment of Council Expenses:
Section 81 of the Local Government Act, 2001 provides that the Minister may make a grant to a road authority in relation to the construction or improvement of non-public roads and that assistance by a road authority is subject to the condition that a financial contribution is received from beneficiaries. Assistance by a road authority is also subject to such other terms and conditions the Minister may consider appropriate – these are outlined in this Memorandum.
In relation to County Councils’ allowable administrative expenses, the Department has decided that such expenses shall be such sum not exceeding 15% of the net cost as apportioned by the Council in respect of engineering and office staff, office accommodation and stationary – (this is increased from 12.5% in the 1997-1999 Memorandum).
By “net cost” is meant the cost of labour (including gangers and supervisors), materials and equipment. It should not include any sum for compensation or land or rights of way required for the purpose of undertaking a project. The landholders’ contributions should be calculated after adding the 15% to the estimated “net cost”.
- Local Contributions:
The local contribution is an integral part of the Local Improvements Scheme, so much so that if it is not forthcoming the county council should not in any circumstances proceed with the particular project.
The key requirement is that the aggregate local contribution must meet at least 10% of the cost of the project inclusive of administration of 15% and VAT. This scheme condition must be strictly complied with. The amount to be paid by an individual beneficiary is a matter to be decided between the beneficiaries themselves and county councils should avoid being embroiled in such deliberations.
The local contribution should be calculated using the following table:-
|Cost of Project
(including administration and VAT)
|Up to €25,393
€25,393 and above
- The landholders’ contribution must be paid before the commencement of work on a project. If it is not paid, then the scheme should not commence and should be considered to be withdrawn for failure to meet a key requirement of the scheme.
Free labour or materials are not acceptable as a contribution or part of the contribution.
The local contribution should be paid as a single sum – the amounts to be paid by the individual beneficiaries is a matter to be decided between the beneficiaries with the single sum handed over by the contact person for the scheme to the county council. In no circumstances should any county council become involved in trying to collect monies from beneficiaries other than a contact/liaison person.
- Notwithstanding the provision of Section 81(3) a county council should not contribute financially to the cost of a project unless the road also serves local authority property, e.g., rented local authority houses, water or waste water installations, cemetery etc. In such circumstances a county council may pay a portion of the landholders’ contribution proportionate to its benefit from the works. It is the intention that the cost of schemes should be met from the State grant and local contribution and that local authorities should not contribute financially unless in the circumstances outlined in this paragraph.
- Council offers relating to proposed works
Subject to paragraph 19, the procedure to be adopted in relation to the making of offers of contribution is primarily a matter for the Council to decide. It is recommended that the Council should describe briefly the nature and limits of the work proposed, and should state that it undertakes only to expend the estimated sum to the best advantage and that in the event of the sum being insufficient to complete the specified work the Council will not have any liability to expend any further sum.
- The offer should be expressed as being subject to withdrawal or alteration without notice and to payment of local contribution. It should also be expressed as being conditional on the State allocation to the Council for the year in question not being already taken up when the contribution is paid. If desired, a specific time limit on acceptance of the offer may be imposed. Following the issue of an offer of a contribution, no action is required on the part of the Council unless and until the offer is accepted by the payment of the landholders’ contribution. In making offers, it should be noted that grant expenditure should be kept within the limits of the allocation. Grant expenditure in excess of allocation should not be incurred in anticipation of future grants.
- General Administrative Guidelines – Projects to be carried out in their entirety.
Every effort should be made to undertake projects in their entirety rather than in a piecemeal fashion. To ensure value for money and the efficient use of the resources available, county councils should avoid undertaking projects by doing small stretches over a number of years. This is inefficient and in reality is only of marginal benefit to beneficiaries.
There will also be situations where a project undertaken in the current year requires a second surfacing in the subsequent year. While the second coating should be treated as a separate project for funding in the subsequent year, its cost should be taken into account in assessing the total cost of the project and the local contribution required so that the need to approach beneficiaries twice is avoided unless there are exceptional reasons for so doing.
In deciding what projects should be carried out, value for money and efficiency must be guiding principles, particularly if it is decided not to complete a project in its entirety. While this is a judgement call for individual county councils, the approach to be taken is that there should be good reasons for not completing a project to its entirety.
Where a project is undertaken in more than one phase, the County Council must satisfy itself that the individual phases are not of themselves uneconomic for the Council to do.
- Projects to be carried out by agreement
Section 81(4) (a) of the Local Government Act, 2001 provides that assistance by a county council under this section is conditional on a prior written agreement by the parties concerned with the county council. A project cannot be carried out without such agreement being obtained from all parties.
While the precise procedure in this regard is a matter for each county council, it is nonetheless considered desirable that an application form be used in which the Council is asked to undertake the work as agents of the applicants. These agreements should provide for work being undertaken by the Council (or by contractors employed by the Council).
A Council may allow discretion in relation to the terms of the agreement where applicants indicate an interest in undertaking part of the work themselves or through a third party. No grant payment arises in respect of such works. However, in such circumstances, the Council must satisfy itself that the work will be carried out to an acceptable standard, in an efficient manner, and achieve value for money and that questions of liability in the event of unsatisfactory performance are addressed.
As Local Improvement Scheme projects are funded largely from public funds, the procedure for the engagement of any third party must provide for competition and transparency and compliance with legislation applicable to the engagement of third parties for the non-national roads programme generally.
Again it should be emphasised that free labour or materials are not acceptable as landholders’ contributions.
- The application form should be signed personally by all the applicants, who should nominate one of their number to act as spokesperson and representative in relation to local contribution and all other issues. The form should also indicate that the Council’s acceptance of the applicants’ request is on the clear understanding that the applicants (and other users) will, when the project is completed, thereafter maintain the work in good order and repair at their own charge and expense, and that the carrying out of any further works will not involve any liability on the part of the Council for subsequent maintenance. The making of an application to the Council and its acceptance by the local authority will constitute an agreement for the purpose of Section 81(4)(a) of Local Government Act, 2001.
- Prior to the carrying out of an approved project written consent should be obtained from all landholders whose land or interests are likely to be affected. This includes in the case of road works, the owners of the land on which the road is situated, and in the case of drains, all riparian owners, owners of downstream lands likely to be affected by the carrying out of the work, and in certain cases upstream landholders who may have a claim that their interests would be adversely affected by the lowering of water levels.
- Applicants must arrange amongst themselves for the provision of any land which may be required for the construction or widening of a road for drainage works associated with a Local Improvement Scheme and no charge in respect of compensation for such land may be made against the project. County Councils should not contribute towards compensation for land or rights of way required for the purposes of the project.
- Regard should be had to the requirements of section 47 and 50 of the Arterial Drainage Act, 1945, which impose restrictions on the erection, alteration, reconstruction etc., of certain weirs and bridges without the consent of the Commissioners of Public Works.
- When carrying out drainage and bridge works special attention should be directed to the requirements of legislation in relation to the protection of fish life, particularly during the spawning and the nursery season from October to June. Where works are likely to affect fish life or waterways the Manager of the relevant Regional Fisheries Board should be consulted in advance.
- On completion of a project the applicants should be notified that the responsibility of the Council is at an end and that future maintenance of the works is the responsibility of the users. – See Section 81(5) of the Local Government Act, 2001.
- Forms and Returns to the Department
As the administration of the Local Improvements Scheme has been devolved to County Councils, details of individual schemes undertaken are not required by the Department.
However, the Department requires two forms to be used by county councils. These are:-
- Form LIS 1 which is to be used for claiming instalments from the grant as expenditure is incurred. The main difference is that local contributions are excluded from the expenditure claim form. Details about local contributions will be sought on Outputs return instead. As is the case with all other non-national road grant expenditure claims (see Memorandum on Non-National Road Grants), monthly expenditure claims should be submitted to the Department immediately following the end of each month i.e. not later than the 16th for February – November and in the case of December, the 6th.
- The former Form LIS 2 which sought a summary and final statement of expenditure for each year has been dispensed with and should no longer be submitted to the Department.
- With considerably increased funding for the Local Improvements Scheme and notwithstanding the fact that the day to day administration of the scheme is a matter for county councils, there remains a need for the Department to have up to date reliable information on outputs. Indeed there is also a need for the Department to know the number of applications on hands to feed into the allocation process. There is a need to ensure that resources and needs are matched to the greatest extent possible and to depart from a purely historical basis for allocations.
In order to obtain this information Form LIS OUT (Appendix 2) will issue to each county council each December seeking details of schemes undertaken and applications on hands. It is vital that the information sought is returned by the due date to enable the Local Improvement Scheme allocations to be announced as early as possible.
Appendix 3 contains the text of Section 81 of the Local Government Act, 2001, as enacted on 21 July, 2001 and this is now the statutory basis for the Local Improvements Scheme.
__________________________ County Council Month of _____________________________ 2002 FORM LIS 1
Monthly Return of Expenditure on LIS Schemes
1/12/01 to 30/11/02
I certify that the details supplied above concerning expenditure incurred are correct.
Signed ___________________________________ Date _______________________________
(Director of Services)
*Excluding Local Contributions
LISOUT 200 .
LIS Outputs Questionnaire
Reflecting Position at 31 December, 200_.
Q.1. Number of LIS Schemes carried out in
|were completed to their|
entirety and will not require further grant aid.
|were partially completed|
and will require further grant assistance.
Q.2. Number of applications received in 200_.
Q.3. Number of applications on hands at the end of
Q.4. Estimated cost of applications on hands at end of 200_.
Q.5. In respect of the applications on hands at the end of 200_ please state:
(a) if the Council has an up to date and reliable costing for these schemes.
(b) if all of these schemes have been checked to verify eligibility.
Q.6. Total amount of local contributions in 200_
Q.7. Total number of beneficiaries from LIS schemes completed in 200_
Q.8. Total kms improved in 200_
Contact name in County Council for LIS purposes:-
Telephone No: ______________________
Email Address ______________________
Please note that the details sought in this questionnaire are needed to determine LIS allocations for the following year. For this reason your co-operation in ensuring that a response is returned to the Department by the deadline would be greatly appreciated.
Local Government Act, 2001