Covid Recovery, New Programme for Government, Planning, Housing, Finances, Climate Action
The Northern Ireland Partnership Panel held its second meeting of 2021 virtually this week (21st April).
The Forum provides a policy and action platform between the Stormont Executive and the 11 local councils on key common policy & investment matters.
Chaired by the Communities Minister, Deirdre Hargey MLA, the meeting focused on actions aligned to the pandemic recovery roadmap and improving co-operation on public services provision.
Members of the Partnership Panel discussed the Programme for Government, Community Planning and Climate Action, as well as new investment programmes such as the Shared Prosperity Fund. Local government representatives also briefed Executive Ministers on the Civility in Public Life campaign, developed in partnership with colleagues in England, Wales and Scotland, highlighting the issues of harassment and resilience in public life, while Executive Ministers engaged with local government on a number of new programmes and strategies.
NILGA President, Councillor Matt Garrett (Belfast City Council), commented:
“With restrictions across the region easing and cautious optimism on the vaccination and wider medical front, all tiers of government now require new ways of working collectively and in partnership. Changes required need to fully recognise council-led investment priorities at a local level, including direct financial support for Community Plans. NILGA hopes that this one public purse leadership approach can be strengthened - so that our councils and wider government can deal with investing in our economy, our environment and essential public services, particularly for those in greatest need, right across the region.
“Substantial funding is now being promised via post-EU, post-Covid investment funds. NILGA and local government input into the early stages of discussions has called for far greater design, coordination and monitoring at a local government level, because our councils know how to get the highest return on investment, what the biggest local priorities are and who is in greatest need.
“Through NILGA and the Partnership Panel, it is essential that councils and our local communities are at the centre of any to new investment and the new Programme for Government.”
Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey MLA said:
“The relationship between central and local government is vital as we all work to deliver for our people and communities. The Partnership Panel provides an opportunity to discuss key issues of public concern and improve coordination between departments and councils.
“The Covid-19 response has demonstrated the importance of this joined up approach when it comes to public service planning and delivery. Local government has played a very active and important role over this past year and will continue to play a vital part in social and economic recovery.
“We discussed how we can continue to work together for the benefit of everyone. It is important we all regard collaborative working as the default position.’’