The Ulster Unionist Party has published a detailed mini manifesto on the issue of water charges and rates reform.
Ulster Unionists reject the Direct Rule Administration’s proposals for rates reform. They fail to take account of the impact of rising house prices, would hurt those who are asset rich but cash poor (i.e. the elderly) and – according to the Government’s own assessment – would not create a burden shared equally across the whole community.
The document also rules out a switch to a Liberal Democrat/Alliance local income tax as it would “(destroy) jobs and the incentive to work”.
It supports levying local taxation to property, but not on the basis of capital values and in a way that would “protect older citizens”
The Government are planning to impose a water tax on the people of Northern Ireland. You will pay this tax not on the basis of the water you use, but on how much the Government thinks your house is worth. The average water charge bill will be £340 p.a.
Our water service should receive the equivalent level of Treasury investment as the £1.6 billion the water services on the mainland received in the later 1980s/early 1990s – contributed to by taxpayers in Northern Ireland.
In short, the document proposes that taxpayers should not be expected to pay for years of underinvestment in a way that is unfair and hits those least able to pay most.