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BIG CHALLENGES & TOUGH CHOICES: COUNCIL RATES INCREASES

Each of the eleven councils have struck their domestic rate for the year commencing April 2020. They have done so amidst the most challenging financial environment faced by local government since 1972.

It is clear that councils are investing in a massive range of capital projects as well as in community initiatives which often fall outside of their statutory, core remit. In the Assembly's absence between late 2016 and early 2020, huge expectations of (& diverse investment priorities for) councils have led in 2020/21 to rate increases in some cases above the rate of inflation. This is a feature which was much less apparent in recent times, but which now in councils reflects the regional (Stormont) rate increases over the past few years. It is quite clear that these financial challenges are hard, common and long-term - even fulfilling the government's target of National Living Wage rates to 2023 is a necessity not a choice, which covers a big piece of each council increase.

NILGA will work with the councils to develop additional resources, efficiencies and investment, including funds from central government, which holds 95% of Northern Ireland’s £23 billion p.a. purse strings. It is no longer sustainable for councils to support huge investment across our communities in matters like preventative health, infrastructure and emergency planning without more investment from the rest of government. Negotiated funding from central to local government in England, Scotland and Wales for specific public services - nationally led, locally delivered - provides a benchmark for N. Ireland which can reduce the public purse and improve the public service.

This is a challenge for every layer of government. Councils must meet this challenge head on and will do so diligently.  2015 saw the biggest shake up in local government for over 40 years. 2020 must be the year when councils - asked (& willing) to be the public service hubs of their communities - are given the resources needed to do the job and do the job well.

Ends…//

Notes

Rates Figures 2020 /21

Council

(uplift on 2019 / 20)

Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council

1.99%

Ards and North Down Borough Council

5.64%

Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council

2.48%

Belfast City Council

1.99%*

Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council

7.65%

Derry City and Strabane District Council

3.37%

Fermanagh and Omagh District Council

2.79%

Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council

3.98%

Mid and East Antrim Borough Council

1.74%

Mid Ulster District Council

3.24%

Newry, Mourne and Down District Council

2.85%

                                                                                                                                                                                                    
*
Based on Belfast City Council, the 1.99 per cent district rate increase means an average increase of: 63p per month, or £7.61 per year, for a house.

 

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