Rating Policy

Part of Ministerial Statements – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 11:30 am on 22nd November 2016.

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Photo of Máirtín Ó Muilleoir Máirtín Ó Muilleoir Sinn Féin 11:30 am, 22nd November 2016

I thank the Member for her question and for focusing on the two constituencies most affected by the removal of the rates cap: South Belfast, which I also have an interest in, and North Down. You will note that I talked about a phased introduction. I am very sensitive to the fact that, even if someone lives in a million-pound house, they also have to balance their books and their budget and no one wants to receive next April, for example, a dramatically increased rates bill. We are doing two things. First, we are saying that this is a levy, so it will not include 100% of the rates bill; it is only the 55% that we control as central government. That is the first relief to those in larger houses. Also, it is a phased introduction, and we will take our time to do it. I think it might happen over two rating periods over two years.

It is unfair that those who live in houses that are valued at £150,000 or £200,000 are subject to a regressive taxation system — property tax. I look forward to the day when I — or the Finance Minister who follows me — control income tax, but, until that day, we need to take decisions over the taxes and rates that we control. This decision is timely and will bring extra money into the coffers to deliver services not just in South Belfast and North Down but right across the jurisdiction. I look forward to getting the full support of all the parties in South Belfast, in particular, and North Down for the measure.