Committee Welcomes Protection for Council Funds
Date: 27 January 2011
Reference: ENV 08/10/11
The Assembly’s Environment Committee has welcomed the Assembly’s decision to protect local council funding by agreeing an important amendment to the Local Government (Finance) Bill.
The amendment will ensure that councils know the amount of ‘top up’ funds that they may be able to access, known as the Rates Support Grant (RSG). Had the amendment not been accepted, the Department for the Environment would have been able to cut the RSG at any time during the financial year, denying less well off councils valuable funding.
The amendment follows on from a recommendation set out in the Committee’s review of the local government finance Bill.
Speaking after the vote, Chairperson of the Committee, Cathal Boylan MLA said: “I am particularly pleased that the Assembly has agreed to support this amendment which will now form part of the final Bill. Eighteen local councils qualified for the Rate Support Grant in 2010—and these are the least well off councils.
“When the RSG was cut by 5.9% in 2010, councils were left with no way of retrieving money and therefore found themselves in grave financial difficulty.
“My Committee strongly believes that local councils deserve some degree of financial surety and this amendment will provide it. The Department will be able to set the RSG only once in a financial year. Councils will be able to make appropriate plans for services to their local community—something we are striving for.”