Independent Councillor Stephanie Quigley has called the striking of rates for Causewat Coast & Glens at 2.49% for the incoming financial year as ‘poor timing’.
Cllr Quigley, during councils special rates meeting on Thursday evening, proposed an amendment to the recommended 2.48% of a 0% rate increase instead, which was seconded by Councillor Padraig McShane.
Addressing elected members she said :
“It is utterly preposterous that this council even contemplate any increase in our rates . We have endured one of the most difficult years ever living through this pandemic.
“I have been in close communication with some of our fantastic advice centres. On a daily basis they are dealing at the cold front with those most affected.
“They have described a ‘new level of poverty’ that they have never witnessed before, working with people furloughed, small business owners and practitioners who haven’t earned a single penny and agency staff who have been simply told they don’t qualify for any help other than universal credit.
“There are people today in our borough having to take mortgage breaks and choose whether or not to put food on their tables or fuel in their tanks.
“I am quite sure that most if not all elected representatives have received phone calls from their constituents who are at their wits ends due to this financial crises they have faced in this pandemic either waiting on government help for months or simply falling through the criteria for support.
“The NI executive has chosen to freeze the regional rate for businesses at last years substantially reduced level , and freeze the domestic rates for the second year in a row.
“The NI Executive has also provided an additional £100 million funding this year for local councils .
“So along with the 0% increase I propose that this council set up a £1.5 million hardship fund to alleviate the suffering of the poorest and most affected in our borough.”
In considering the proposal, Councillors voted 36-2 against 0%, instead opting for 2.49% as rerecommended by council officers.