Relief grant for local ratepayers raised following concerns

Mark H Durkan.
Mark H Durkan.

Environment Minister Mark H Durkan has announced that Derry City and Strabane District Council will get an enhanced Rate Support Grant next year of almost £3.9 million in Rate Support Grant.

Mr Durkan said that he was able to increase the relief from last year despite cuts to his budget.

The move comes after local Sinn Fein Sinn Féin Councillor Eric McGinley had said earlier this week that the Minister should stop blaming other parties and tell councils how much they were getting. He said: “It is extremely frustrating – less than three weeks before the Rates have to be struck – that the Council still does not know what level of support the Minister will provide.”

Minister Durkan however has now confirmed: “Despite the significant reduction in my Department’s Budget for 2016/17 I have been determined to find the money to protect the Rates Support Grant, and thus maintain vital council services for the people of Derry and Strabane.

“Unfortunately Ministers from Sinn Fein and the DUP voted against my proposal to protect this grant for less well off councils however I am determined to ensure that people in Derry and other less affluent areas do not suffer disproportionately as a result of those parties’ austerity budget.”