Council to lose £2m in central rates grant

Jonathan Buckley
Jonathan Buckley

Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Council’s front line services could be affected as a dramatic £2m rate deficit looms.

After a Judicial Review by Mid Ulster Council on Rates Support Grants (RSG), ABC and other councils will have their allocations reevaluated to pay for the extra given to some councils.

Revised Rates Support Grant allocations

Revised Rates Support Grant allocations

The RSG provides financial support to those councils whose needs exceed wealth in comparison to other councils.

The Mid Ulster District Council’s case, upheld by the Court of Appeal, was that the formula used to calculate RSG was incorrectly applied by the Department, resulting in the Council’s wealth being overstated and the grant payable to the Council being less than it should have received.

A document, seen by the ‘MAIL’, suggests that ABC council will lose out by £950k this year and the same again next year.

DUP MLA Jonathan Buckley said he had major concerns that the ‘crucial loss’ of this grant, from the Department of Communities, would have a knock on effect for ratepayers in the ABC area.

He said: “The question for council officials and members is how will they ensure that this major funding loss does not have a direct impact on front line services and result in a future rate bill hike for the people and businesses of the ABC area.

“I would call on ABC council to have a pro active approach in trying to offset its negative impact.”

A spokesperson for Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council said: “We are aware of the outcome of the case and as we now approach the rate setting process some difficult decisions will need to be considered as the council now face significant cost pressures and this may impact on ratepayers.

“Elected members are working closely with council officers to minimise the impact of this decision”.