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The Minister has tied up a number of loose ends regarding the reorganisation of councils that have been outstanding for some time. Some questions arise as the result of the report and, in particular, about the implications for ratepayers. The PWC report refers to additional costs of £119 million and, indeed, underlines key works such as that the full additional costs will be passed from central government to local government. In other words, they will be passed to the ratepayers. Another page is devoted to the convergence of the rates in each of the new 11 councils. In Fermanagh’s case, for example, it is noticeable that the rate will go up by around 20%, while that in Omagh will drop by about 20%.
If the Minister will ensure that the three new organisations at the centre are based in Fermanagh, it might help to offset the ill effects. If not, can he give us an assurance for councils that will be negatively affected by the new rating arrangements? Will there be any other cushion from central government?