Continued efficiency measures ensure minimum rates increase for Belfast ratepayers
2 Feb 2018
A district rate increase of 1.98 per cent for 2018/19 was agreed at Belfast City Council’s monthly meeting with continued efficiency measures ensuring a minimum increase for ratepayers at just under 2%.
The Council’s portion of the rates amounts to 45% of the rates bill received by residents and businesses. The rest relates to Stormont Departments which set their portion separately.
The Council increase will cost domestic ratepayers an average of less than £1 per month or less than £10 per year. Businesses and offices will pay an average extra £12 per month or around £144 per year.
Councillor Matt Garrett, chairperson of the Council’s Strategic Policy and Resources Committee, (SP&R) said: “This means over the past three years of the Council term, the district rate increase has been maintained below the average rate of inflation providing a real term reduction. In times of great economic uncertainty and with Brexit on the horizon; this reflects our commitment to keeping a rise to rates for our residents and business community as low as possible.
“We have achieved this by delivering over £3m in efficiency savings during the past year, through measures such as a voluntary redundancy scheme. It has been a long standing commitment of the Council to reduce costs with the total amount of efficiencies amounting to more than £25 million over the past ten years with a further £3 million earmarked for next year.”
Councillor Garrett said: “It is important to strike the right balance between reducing costs and the continued delivery of high quality, value for money services as well as improving our facilities and neighbourhoods and creating more jobs for local people.
“We are making real strides in growing certain sectors of our economy to secure existing jobs and create even more opportunity. It is also our ambition to build on the optimism and energy in our city which makes it not only a great place to live for local residents but a ‘must see’ destination for visitors around the world.”
Councillor Garrett added that negotiations are well underway for a Belfast Region City Deal worth in the region of £1bn which, if secured would help build on that confidence by bringing together private and public sectors in a way that could help unlock huge economic potential and create more jobs for Belfast and the surrounding region with new developments in infrastructure, digital connectivity, innovation centres and tourist venues being some of the proposals looked at.
“Within the deal it is vital that growth is inclusive and that local people across the whole region feel the benefits. There will be a focus on improving skills aligned to opportunities, reducing the skills gap and educational inequalities and targeting areas of high deprivation. The Belfast Region City Deal will help us deliver the Belfast Agenda, our 20-year plan for the city and its people."
Councillor Garrett said: “Rates are currently supporting 200 regeneration projects across the City, of which over 100 are underway. This includes a £105m Leisure Transformation Programme involving the development of seven new centers across the City with advanced work on the Andersonstown, Brook and Robinson Leisure Centres.