SDLP MLA Mark H Durkan has called on Communities Minister Gordon Lyons to provide immediate financial assistance for councils before rates decisions are made for the upcoming year.
Mr Durkan said the failure to protect the Rates Support Grant has seen the budget decimated by 75% since 2008.
The result has had a disproportionate impact on less-well off council areas including Derry City and Strabane District Council.
Said the Foyle MLA: “Councils across the North have borne the brunt of delivering public services and supporting communities through the cost of living crisis.
“In the absence of government support, council stepped up to provide hardship funding for households in crisis.
“It is important that financial assistance is delivered as a matter of urgency as councillors grapple with the rates process.
“Rates support funding has been all but decimated, having a devastating impact on all councils.
“For less well-off, socio-economically deprived council areas like Derry and Strabane, this support was a lifeline.
“For almost a decade, ever since my time as Environment Minister, I’ve called for Rates Support Funding to be protected and ring-fenced.
“It’s a crying shame those calls weren’t heeded to cushion councils through the unprecedented challenges they’ve faced in recent years.
“The failure to do so has had and is having a disproportionate impact on households already struggling to keep their head above water with ratepayers in the most deprived areas paying well above their fair share.
“This time last year all party leaders, including the Communities Minister’s leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, called on the Department for Communities permanent secretary to provide urgent financial support for councils.
“Minister Lyons needs to put his money where his mouth is and release assistance now he has the power to do so.
“I have submitted priority questions to the Minister for Communities on restoring rates support for less affluent council areas, and to the Minister for Infrastructure, on central Government support for City of Derry Airport.
“Ratepayers in Derry should not have to carry the can for a lack of support from Stormont,” added Mr Durkan.Tags: