President welcome £1.15m resource grant restoration

President of the Local Government Association (NILGA), Cllr Evelyne Robinson, has enthusiastically welcomed Department of the Environment Minister Edwin Poots’ announcement to refund the additional £1.15 million withdrawal of resources which took place in 2010 affecting 18 councils.

Cllr Robinson stated: “This announcement is both worthy and welcome, especially to the smaller councils where it has had a significant impact; I cannot overestimate the benefit it will make to each of the 18 councils concerned. Having put the case to the Minister, NILGA is supportive of the Department’s adjusted policy. We thank the NI Executive for supporting Minister Poots in this decision as it shows how concentrated collective lobbying based on a sound business case to maintain services for our ratepayers has paid off for the 2011/12 financial year.

“Councils can only provide services on the basis of their income and available resources; if there is a cut to their income then this automatically impacts on their local ratepayers.

“The Resource Grant was originated by central government, to support councils with constrained rate raising potential. I hope this restoration will go some way to support them in their planned service delivery for 2011/12.

“NILGA looks forward to continuing to developing the local government/central government relationship so that local authorities can collectively advise Departments on the serious impact of any further proposed cuts.”

Originally notified by the Department of Environment in July 2010, NILGA representatives met with Minister Poots in August 2010 to discuss the proposed cuts to the Resource Grant, highlighting the adverse impact on 18 out of the 26 councils resulting in the reduction £1.15million, in addition to the additional 5% cut already imposed at the start of the financial year.

Economic downturn, a drop in income from other areas and incomplete rate collections from Land and Property Services (LPS) have meant that the past few years have been difficult for Councils in terms of service delivery linked to financial planning. NILGA’s negotiations have ensured that constructive and pragmatic decisions have been taken and this has created a basis for partnership working regarding any proposals concerning the Resource Grant in the future.

NILGA members will continue to work with local government in developing opportunities for councils and for councillors to support the interests of the citizens they represent.

* Ballymoney will be refunded -61K and Moyle -30K.