Environment Minister Mark H Durkan has confirmed that, despite a significant cut to the DOE budget, the Rates Support Grant for councils for 2016/17 will be protected at over £18million.
The budget allocated to DOE’s functions for the coming year will see a reduction of 5.7% which equates to £5.9million. There had been a real fear among Councils that this would lead to a reduction in the Rates Support Grant for Councils. However, despite the overall budget cut, the Environment Minister is not reducing the Rates Support Grant.
Mark H Durkan explained: “It is now almost one year from when the legislation to reform local government introduced by my department took effect. During this time I have been very impressed by the way local government has responded to the new challenges and opportunities created by the most profound change to the delivery of local services in a generation. As we move towards the second year of this change I am more aware than ever of the vital need to ensure councils and most particularly those councils who are less well off, receive adequate financial support.
“Councils now need to know the position for next year in advance of setting their rates. Whilst the budget for my Department’s functions has seen a significant reduction, I have been determined to find the money to protect the Rates Support Grant, and thus maintain vital council services for people. This means that councils can now plan their budgets in the knowledge that their Rates Support Grant allocations for next year will be protected at over £18million. I know this will be very welcome news for Councils and ratepayers.”