The Bill was meant to transfer certain functions of the Department for Social Development to the new Councils, but as it is unlikely to become law by an April 2015 deadline, the revised legislation will not come into effect until April 2016.
Stewart Dickson MLA said: “I am shocked over the repeated delays in introducing this legislation to the Assembly. It is another example of the failure of the Executive to agree upon major issues.
“This is not the first time that a major piece of public sector reform has been delayed. For too many issues, it can take months or even years for the DUP and Sinn Fein to finally reach agreement. This transfer of functions was meant to form a key part of the overall reform of local government, which itself stalled and stagnated for several years. This delay will mean that the new Councils will not have some key powers when they assume authority in April 2015.
“We are now into the eighth year of the Assembly; our institutions should have developed enough maturity by now to ensure that major pieces of legislation such as this are debated and agreed upon in a timely manner.
“I am disappointed that the Social Development Minister did not make this announcement on the floor of the Assembly chamber, where MLAs could have properly scrutinised his decision.”