Cllr Emmet Doyle: "People in this city are struggling enough as it is with Covid closures and energy bills. Aontú will not support any rates increase that will further impact our communities."
Aontú Councillor, Emmet Doyle, has said that the £750,000 cut from Derry’s rate support grant by the Communities Minister must be reversed.
The Rates Support Grant is available to a number of Councils that cover less affluent areas to uplift spending power.
However, Derry City & Strabane District Council have had 25 per cent cut to their allocation of the Grant which Cllr Doyle says will hinder the Council's ambitions for investment in Derry.
He said: “The Rates Support Grant is in place to support the seven less affluent Councils in the North. In recent months Council has received notification from Sinn Féin Minister Deirdre Hargey that she will be cutting three-quarters of a million pound from our grant.
“This has both immediate and long term implications for people here. It will mean even for Council to stand still this year, rates will have to be increased to compensate for this loss.
“In the long term, our ambitions for investment in the City will suffer as Council uses this money to leverage loans. We are losing up to £15million in that regard which is totally unacceptable.
“Ahead of the striking of the rate in February, the Minister must reverse this cut and her party colleagues in Council and Stormont must put out money where their mouths are if they are serious about standing up for Derry.
“People in this city are struggling enough as it is with Covid closures and energy bills. Aontú will not support any rates increase that will further impact our communities.”
In response, a Department for Communities spokesperson said: “The Department allocated additional funding of £85.3million to councils to alleviate projected financial losses and COVID-19 costs during 2020/21 of which £35.8million was permitted to be allocated to Council reserves in March 2021 to assist Councils in maintaining critical and ongoing frontline COVID-19 support to communities.
“The Department has also secured an additional £10m for councils to alleviate projected financial losses and COVID-19 costs during 2021/22.
“The Rates Support Grant (RSG) budget allocation position was arrived at following scrutiny of all Departmental spend, taking into account the significant growing financial pressures arising from COVID-19, plus additional demands including the impact of cost increases.
“It should be noted that significant additional funding was provided in year during 2020/21 to provide ongoing support to councils.
“Any future decisions affecting the potential of additional RSG available in 2021/22 will be considered in the context of the wider budgetary position of the Department.”
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