Kearney: SDLP Motion on Rates Support Grant Gains Unanimous Council Approval
The motion in its entirety reads:
‘That this Council is concerned about the negative impact that any potential cut to the Rate Support Grant will have on Council’s ability to deliver services to and for the population of the Council Area: recognises that this grant exists to support less affluent Councils; calls on the Department for Communities to maintain the Rate Support Grant at its existing funding level; further commits to write to the Department for Finance and the Head of the Civil Service; and calls on any incoming Executive or future Minister to establish full protection for the Rate Support Grant to ensure any budget cuts do not impact on less financially well-off Council areas.’
Speaking afterwards Mr. Kearney said:
“I am delighted that this motion was carried with the full support of Council. The Rate Support Grant helps to reduce the rates bills in 7 of the 11 Councils. The 4% cut last year had a very negative effect across the Mid-Ulster Council. We want to see this Grant ring-fenced and protected from future cuts.
‘Local Councils like our own, are working to support our local communities, and the one way this is done is through this Grant. When the SDLP had the portfolio which dealt with the Rates Support Grant Mark H Durkin, the Environment Minister protected it from cuts. He sought agreement from the other Executive colleagues that this Grant should be ring-fenced but sadly this proposal was not accepted.
‘If this Grant is cut it will have an unequal impact, especially West of the Bann and will impact greater on the poor - feeling the brunt of those cuts. This is a fund which is a key measure in tackling inequality, put in place to help vulnerable areas.
‘It is of vital importance here in Mid-Ulster. It would simply be a travesty for the Rate Support Grant to be reduced and this must be avoided at all costs.’