Hargey Backs Councils With £20 Million Fund

Local Councils Benefit From £20 million Pot From Communities Minister Hargey.

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Local Councils Benefit From £20 million Pot From Communities Minister Hargey.

Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey has announced that the Executive is allocating £20.3 million to local councils to assist them with their financial pressures as a result of Covid-19.

The funding will ensure that local councils can continue to provide essential services and support those in need.

Minister Hargey said: “Despite the current Covid-19 pandemic, councils continue to play an essential role in delivering essential services such as waste collection and disposal, community support, and provision of registration and cemetery services.

Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey.

“The restrictions that have been introduced, with the clear purpose of protecting life and ensuring our health service has not been overwhelmed, have created a severe financial challenge for our 11 councils as they have lost practically all of their self-generated income through the closure of council facilities.

“This funding will help assist councils with their cash flow and support them in the delivery of the vital services they are providing to the community at this time but will also help ensure that they are ready to play their key role in our post-pandemic recovery and limit the financial impact on ratepayers going forward.”

The £20.3 million will be allocated to councils to reflect their financial pressures.

The Minister previously announced that councils here are eligible to apply to furlough staff through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.  This will help ensure that the rights of workers are respected and jobs are protected. This scheme along with this additional funding are supporting councils through this period.

Minister Hargey said: “I welcome the Executive’s commitment to this issue which will support council employees, suppliers and communities.  It is a clear commitment from the Executive that we support and appreciate the role of our local government colleagues and provides assurance that councils will be put on a sound and sustainable financial footing.”

Finance Minister, Conor Murphy added: “I’m pleased to provide councils with this funding so they can continue to provide vital services during the Covid-19 crisis.

“This support is in addition to the Executive absorbing the full cost of the business rates holiday so that it won’t impact on council’s income.”

NILGA

NILGA has responded to Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey MLA’s announcement in the Assembly this morning that the Executive has allocated funding of £20.3m to local government in Northern Ireland.

NILGA President Cllr. Frances Burton said: “This is welcome funding which will help alleviate some immediate pressures across our 11 local councils. Working with all councils, NILGA and chief officers have outlined the income annihilation that local government has suffered and will suffer solely due to Covid-19. The pressures on councils right now are huge and mounting daily.

“We will work with Stormont to ensure that this funding is allocated swiftly. NILGA sees this as the first in a range of substantial funding measures which will help sustain essential council services for those in greatest need, thereby protecting frontline public services.

“This funding gives hope, not just for institutions like councils, but for the many partners that councils work with, to serve the community in the new Northern Ireland that must emerge out of Covid-19. Ultimately this is about caring for our community. We owe it to all those who are sacrificing so much, so selflessly. 

“With a longer-term financial package to be worked on for our councils, we reiterate our message that we will put citizens first and join with Stormont and national government to get our country safe and back to work again.”