The Department of Communities has been warned it could face a judicial review of how it allocated more than £20m to Northern Ireland's councils.
Last month, Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey announced the Executive was allocating £20.3m to local councils to assist them with their financial pressures as a result of Covid-19.
The funding is aimed at ensuring that local councils can continue to provide essential services and support those in need. This week, Councils were informed how much of that cash injection they would receive.
Mid and East Antrim Borough Council is set to receive just £934k - just 4.6% of the funding allocated.
East Antrim DUP MP Sammy Wilson said the figure appeared to be "completely unfair" and accused the department of "penalising one of Northern Ireland's top performing Councils for sound financial management".
Mr Wilson said,
am appalled by the way this entire scheme has been delivered and the
complete lack of transparency around the allocation of public money.
on the last audited accounts of all Northern Ireland’s councils, Mid
and East Antrim Borough Council are responsible for 7.11% of all 11
councils’ self-generated income, yet only received 4.6% of a grant that
was to assist in replacing that income. This is in comparison to
neighbouring Antrim and Newtownabbey, who delivered 7.25% of
Council-generated income and received 9.6%, and Causeway Coast and Glens
who delivered 8.7% and is set to receive 9.68%.
City Council is to receive 19.91%, which equates to more than £4m.
Seven Northern Ireland councils will get a bigger percentage of this
grant than they would have been due if it was based on audited income,
but three, including Mid and East Antrim, have received significantly
congratulate those local authorities who have achieved higher than
anticipated allocations, however, this has to be fair for our people
right across Northern Ireland. Previously, Mid and East Antrim Borough
Council was awarded only £71,850 from a £1.5m scheme to assist local
communities in Northern Ireland.
The citizens of Mid and East Antrim have every right to feel they are being treated as the poor relations of Northern Ireland as far as the Department is concerned and I call on the Minister and the Department to urgently revisit this and ensure the split if fair and balanced."
DUP Councillor for Larne Lough Gregg McKeen said,
"We need answers from the Department around the formula used. Otherwise it seems Mid and East Antrim is suffering because of its strong financial governance. It has worked extremely hard to minimise the financial impact of Covid-19 and is focused on economic recovery.
want this remedied as a matter of urgency or I feel the Council has no
choice but to seriously consider bringing a judicial review process
against the Department.
Without swift resolution, those who will ultimately suffer because of this are the people of Mid and East Antrim, and we won't sit back and allow that to happen."