Go raibh maith agat, a Leas Cheann Comhairle. The purpose of the rule is threefold. The first aspect is to increase the allowance or discount that the Department provides to landlords — owners — who are subject to compulsory provisions under the Rates (NI) Order 1977.
A landlord who is responsible for rates payments under certain criteria receives an allowance of 7·5% provided that payment is made before 30 September or within one month of billing, whichever is the later. This rule aims to increase that allowance to 10%.
The second aspect is to reduce the maximum allowance, or discount, provided for by a rates payment agreement between the Department and landlords. Landlords whose rent is paid or collected at intervals shorter than quarterly may, by agreement with the Department, undertake to pay the rates chargeable in respect of the hereditament whether it is occupied or not. The Department may agree, where the owners so undertake and pay the Department on or before the date or dates specified in the agreement the amounts payable by him thereunder, to make an allowance not exceeding 12·5%. The order reduces this maximum allowance to 10%.
The rule also seeks to substitute 10% for any allowance in an existing agreement made under the 1977 Order between the Department and a person or body other than a housing association or the Housing Executive.
The formal statutory rule before the Assembly today was considered by the Committee in February, together with the accompanying report from the Assembly’s Examiner of Statutory Rules. The Examiner raised no issues by way of technical scrutiny. The Committee agreed to recommend that the Rates (Owner Allowances) Order (NI) 2015, be affirmed by the Assembly. I, therefore, support the motion.