Reilly: Rates Support Grant Cut Should Not Be Implemented
Cllr Reilly said:
“I made a proposal that we do not accept a cut to the Rates Support Grant to Derry City and Strabane District Council ~ something that also detrimentally affects 6 other Council areas while the 4 cluster of Belfast Councils remain untouched.
“Ratepayers in Derry Strabane are dealing with a cut of £283k from central government and the SDLP have been working to protect local ratepayers from this.
“Former Environment Minister Mark H Durkan MLA previously protected the Rates Support Grant from cuts. However, when he sought agreement from the other Executive colleagues that this Grant should be ring-fenced, the other parties on the Executive blocked his efforts. During the ongoing political negotiations, the SDLP Party Leader Colum Eastwood MLA has again raised this issue.
“My proposal today was to defer the acceptance of this cut and to ask the Leaders of the political parties, the Secretary of State and Permanent Secretaries to use the existing talks process to find the money to protect the least well off Councils.
“Today’s acceptance of the 2.99% increase, of which 0.76% was due to these central government cut, is a missed opportunity by other political parties to protect ratepayers here who now have to pick up the tab for the failure at Stormont to deliver a budget that should have looked after those living in areas like ours which suffer from historic underinvestment and which have the lowest incomes.
“The DUP and Sinn Fein should be ashamed of themselves – many rate payers across the City will be asking themselves how the DUP and Sinn Fein can agree to work together to hike up rates but can’t work to restore a government to deliver a budget to protect our communities. Instead of standing up for Derry and Strabane they are rolling over, letting all the poorer councils West of the Bann suffer. Clearly it is only the SDLP who are interested in delivering economic equality and respect.”