Local Government and ratepayers welcomed today’s announcement by Environment Minister, Mark H Durkan, to protecting the 2016/17 Rates Support Grant, invested by seven of the eleven councils in Northern Ireland. This is essential support to councils who have constrained rate raising potential, and contributes to essential services and strategic work delivered in each local area.
NILGA President, Alderman Carla Lockhart, said:
"As the 11 councils prepare their budgets for 2016/17, affordable bills to ratepayers and high quality local services are top of the list. Today’s announcement is vital news for the seven councils in receipt of the Rate Support Grant. The affected councils, NILGA and our local government partners were relentless but evidenced based in pointing out the local citizen impact should the grant not be fully retained. The Minister’s decision is commendable, and shows how pragmatic lobbying can result in investment for councils for the next financial year.”
Echoing this, NILGA Vice-President, Councillor Dermot Curran, said:
“This is an economic boost, an important outcome for local government, but the economic and resource challenges are still profound. We will continue to look at every possible way to raise revenue, support the economy and keep rates low. NILGA’s work will be untiring in regard to highlighting best practice and bringing this into the heart of every community.”
NILGA recognises the local political and senior officer input into achieving this gain, which avoids some councils being at a material disadvantage, and welcomes the ongoing opportunity through the Partnership Panel to continuing the development of the local government/central government policy relationship, so that the next Programme for Government recognises all 11 councils as key drivers of community and economic development.