No shift on NIO rates policy…

FINANCE Minister David Hanson was adamant today that the only way rates will be capped is if the Assembly is restored and does it itself. He argues that it would only benefit around 3,000 householders, some of whom are undoubtedly well-off. Will others who are ‘asset rich’ but without an income to match – eg single or widowed pensioners living in a large property they have owned for decades, but which has grown in value because of the housing boom – be the lever to get the parties back into Government? Rather unlikely, I’d say, but combined with other unpopular policies, might there be some cumulative effect on the ‘garden centre Prod’?

  • Crataegus

    It may be worth looking at the constituencies that some of our Ministers represent, pick the most likely replacement and start to help fund their campaigns. Take the war to the enemies territory.

  • lib2016

    Easier just to link up with the adjacient jurisdiction – no tax on private property there!

  • Crataegus


    One does get the feeling that that is the message they are trying to convey.

  • Travis

    “I am determined there will not be a cap, but I have given the assembly the power to introduce one.”

    I for one welcome David Hanson’s remarks.

  • brendan,belfast

    if david hanson is against a cap, will he now move a private members bill to remove the cap in England?

    and another thing, what does Hanson mean when he says he is giving the Assembly power to introduce a cap when they get back up and running. That’s nice of you David – but i think the Assembly already has those powers.

  • brendan, belfast

    hanson represents a Welsh constituency.

    I have linked on “We Perish…” to his local authority, Flintshire and its’ Labour leader. Feel free to e-mail your comments to him about his local MP.

  • Miss Fitz

    Gonzo, glad to see you blogged this, as I was working up my venom.

    Seamas McKee did a great job on radio ulster this morning with Hanson.

    I dont know, but my own rates bill was a joke. My rates have trebled since the evalutaion, and the appeal process is non-functioning. They valued my house 6 weeks after I bought it for £20,000 more than I paid.

    I am rightly annoyed by it, and the ramshackle way it seems to have been done.

  • True Blue

    I do not blame the Labour blow ins for using us as scapecoats for their wealth tax rises they were encouraged to do this by the decision of the Excecutive in the abandoned Assembly. Isn’t it wonderful how the Ulster Unionists along with the SDLP with their respective ministers negotiated with Gordon Brown a package of funding for the province in return for increase rates, water rates and other charges and now are disowning these desicions. It was those parties along with their cohorts in Sinn Fein who where also Ministers agreed these charges, is it not hypocritical now to be so adamant about them and that they should not be brought in. It is easy to pretend they had nothing to do with these charges as Ministers at the Assembly, these along with many other things they agreed to perhaps have yet to be afflicted on the people of the province.

  • balti house

    miss fitz,

    i believe you live in Rostrevor. The analysis of the variance of rate bills in newry & mourne would show that rostrevor was hit the hardest. My rates were already sky high in warrenpoint so perhaps what goes around comes around……

  • Hidden Gem

    Surely talk about rates being capped as in England is clouding the issue? The system is not unfair because it is based on the value of a property. It is unfair because it is a financial demand placed on an individual which is NOT based on that person’s ability to pay.

  • Belfast Gonzo

    They valued my house 6 weeks after I bought it for £20,000 more than I paid.

    Miss Fitz – consider yourself lucky.

    The valuation (IIRC) is based on an estimation of the value of the property in January 2005.

    Your house, if it appreciated like most NI houses did since then, is probably worth more than another £20k now!

    Don’t worry, I’m irked too, and it doesn’t even affect me yet. I just want to buy a house in my favourite part of Norn Iron; South Belfast…

    As if the cost of purchasing a property wasn’t enough for us potential first time buyers…


  • proudon

    Property is theft – slap it up yez…

  • Miss Fitz

    Balti, Gonzo

    As yez all know, I make no secret of where I live. In fact, my house is now worth double what I paid for it 2 years ago.

    Not the point

    They got the system wrong, which is what I am saying

    And Balti, why on earth should I pay more for living 2 miles down the road from you? We have the same bin men, cemetaries and council

    From a well pissed-off
    Miss Fitz

  • English

    What are you moaning about? It’s called paying your way – you have been carried by England for years. This history of paying your bills for you is now coming to an end, and what is more the rates bill clearly underestimates the value of property, so expect further hikes. It’s about time that the North of Ireland paid for itself, it will make it well prepared for life outside of the UK. Take a leaf out of the Republics book and develop a private sector, you will then be in a position to reunite with your natural owner.

  • Belfast Gonzo

    And yet the Treasury didn’t allow NI to take any meaningful control over its economy during the last Assembly, and has no intention of doing so in the next one…

  • Miss Fitz



  • True Blue

    English ????? How dare you I am as Briish as you I do not wish to become an Irish citizen. If it had not been for the volunteers from Northern Ireland in the last war you would have no property to live in it would have been taken over by Hitler. Our fathers,sons and uncles saved your bacon in England we owe you nothing in fact everything you have today including your freedom you owe to the people of Northern Ireland we were not conscripts unlike the English our people paid the ultimate price for you check your history. To get back to the rates issue this is being piloted here just the same as the poll tax was piloted in Scotland. Labour suggested a wealth/property tax some time ago in England and were told it would lose them the next election. What they have done here watch your back it is coming your way

  • IJP

    Sorry Gonzo, but the parties which formed the Executive started this review, and the parties which formed the Executive have yet to come up with a single counter-proposal among them. The Ulster Unionist on yesterday, when asked what his party would do different, said “Well if we did it at least it would be democratic”. Would that make any difference to Disgusted of Belfast 7??!

    Devolution would not make a bit of difference.

    And the people, keen gardeners or not, know it.

  • English

    have you frigged off to the Irish Republic yet?

  • Greek

    There is a family whoses surname is English and they are certainly not English.

  • Cynic

    Hey great. A debate mainly about property prices!!!!

    Could be in Surrey or Dublin 4 – “Yes dahrling…South belfast is sooooo expensive now’.

    Is normality finally arriving in Belfast?

  • Jo

    I note that Bob McCartney/Equal Citizenship lobby have damn all to say about the equalising of NI rates/water bills with England, Wales and Scotland. I wonder – why the silence?

    Could the unelectable become even more unelectable and marginalised by being the only group to defend rates increases and water charging. Go on guys, you know you want to!

  • Crataegus

    Hidden Gem

    It is unfair because it is a financial demand placed on an individual which is NOT based on that person’s ability to pay.

    Spot on and it is a particularly heavy burden for many business owners who have businesses that are in tight times. No profit and rightly no income tax, but the rates bills keep coming and there is no rates relief for business. A business can’t lightly take a decision to sell its property or move from where it is trading and the rates collection agency force businesses into bankruptcy, employees made redundant etc etc. Rates is an iniquitous and it is a tax that should go. Tax should always be based on ability to pay or consumption.

    Tax policy on property has always struck me as odd. My business buys a property, dwelling or otherwise, and then sells it, I have a tax liability if there is a gain. However I as an individual can buy a house to live in and sell it some months after moving in and well as it is my principle residence I have no tax liability on any appreciation in value. When I was younger I lived the life of a gipsy and made good use of this tax break. Buy run down house, a lick of paint a few carpets and what do you know big profit for a months work and time to move. I am now in the odd position that where I actually live is owned not by me but a business and I pay rent to myself but that’s an intricate storey.

    Another anomaly is that a business property is liable for rates if it is empty and a dwelling is not, so if you have any offices that you can’t let because they are on the Shankill get a change of use to residential. If that fails take the roof off and make it derelict. Is this sane?

    I have often considered that people should pay tax on the increased value of their house and we should then abolish stamp duties. It would take money out of the housing market and would have a major effect on keeping house prices down. It would also hit chancers like my younger self. I accrued considerable wealth through this tax break thought in my defence I did actually improve the properties, few were just a lick of paint. There are many who buy property (or land) they reckon is cheap and sit on it which has a major impact on the surrounding area and I also have to ask should we consider substantial tax on empty buildings and unused land? In addition should we tax the gain accrued from planning approvals that change an unused building, piece of land or someone’s garden into say 16 apartments? There are a lot of people making serious sums on property, particularly on the finding and obtaining approvals side rather than on the construction side.

  • Crataegus


    story not storey above

    probably lots of others

  • Jo

    Miss Fitz

    I sympathise with your rates bill as I have just experienced something similar, a doubble whammy in fact as I live both in south Belfast and Rostrevor. If pushed, I know which one I would opt for!


    Your view that inner city areas could be intensively developed is something which my part of the city is currently experiencing. The effect of (literally ) hundreds of apartment developments is to totally transform the character of the area and the profile of the population, both of which qualities were reasons why I live here in the first place. Its similar to the destruction of Donegal as people build there and destroy the thing that made them want to build there in the first place. I believe that, in Belfast, population movement will result (see note to Miss Fitz above.)

  • English

    English ????? How dare you I am as Briish as you I do not wish to become an Irish citizen. If it had not been for the volunteers from Northern Ireland in the last war you would have no property to live in it would have been taken over by Hitler. Our fathers,sons and uncles saved your bacon in England we owe you nothing in fact everything you have today including your freedom you owe to the people of Northern Ireland we were not conscripts unlike the English our people paid the ultimate price for you check your history.

    True Blue,

    No, you are an Irishman with an Irish accent who embraces Northern Irish culture, you have nothing in common with the English, you are foreign to me. I am English (not British), Britishness died along with Empire, it is an outdated and outmoded concept. All you have is a mistaken and outlandish identity compared to the Welsh, Scots and English. It is time for you to wake up and smell the coffee!

    What history books do you read? Are you seriously suggesting Northern Ireland won WW2 or for that matter saved England. It was mostly the sacrifice of Russia and latterly the USA that led to victory, and England paid a very high price also. I would admit that Northern Ireland was an important piece of strategic land at the time but little else, now it is of no value to us. Of course their was sacrifice from Ulster, but their was also equal sacrifice from Irish soldiers from the south. I suggest you read AND get out more!

    English and proud.

  • fair_deal


    Move to a working class loyalist area in Belfast. My rates have dropped a tenner and they only cost £340. Also you’ll be closer to your work 😉

  • Greenflag


    There are those who learn from reading books. There are those who learn from observing and learning from the actual world around them. Then there are those who only ever learn from pissing on an electric fence .

    In NI even the latter method has been known to fail . TB is not alone in NI .

  • Miss Fitz

    I’m moving to Belfast next year, so will definitely keep that advice in mind FD. ;)But I have a few areas in mind, so far.

    I can imagine how welcome I would be in one or two particular areas of Belfast……..

  • balti house

    Miss Fitz

    How can you contemplate leaving rostrevor for crappy auld Belfast. Will be in rostrevor today for the Kilbroney old vehicles event if it stops raining!!

  • Miss Fitz

    I see the weather hasnt put off hundreds of Vintage cars coming to Rostrevor for the Kilbroney vintage car rally. Actually, an orange car just got pushed off the road into my estate, but I wasnt quick enough to catch it on the camera! Are you going yourself Balti?

    As to moving? Well, Rostrevor is gorgeous, but all the kids will be in Belfast then, and I would like to be close to them. I will probably rent out this house, and rent up there for a year, and see how it goes.

    Will have to liase closely with FD on an appropriate neighbourhood of course…..

  • Crataegus


    Agree with you there are major and serious problems and it relates to POOR planning policy or lack of planning policy as mentioned on other threads. What is happening is an utter disgrace and I say this as a developer.

  • Balti House

    Miss Fitz

    your kids would probably prefer it if you stayed in rostrevor lol. Oh and BTW the cars are streaming through warrenpoint at the mo so might follow them out to kilbroney in the afternoon. I was there the last three years and its a credit to the organisers. Will you be renting the rostrevor house to DHSS?

    FD no doubt the best source of info on finding a house in Belfast although perhaps not…….

  • Miss Fitz

    LOL Balti, trust me they have voiced that very same opinion to me!

    The issue is that when they have my grandchildren, I wouldnt trust them to raise them, so I will need to make myself available for advising, instructing, and ensuring the job is done right. I am sure they will grow to love it!

  • Crataegus

    Not really on subject, but just came across this one on debt in the Republic. Yes heading above 300 billion and largely due to property costs.

    Now I am not pretending that NI is any better, its not, and if anyone has the figures I would be interested.

    However we are in a period of, high levels of debt, increased house prices, increasing interest rates and increasing costs such as rates and fuel. Lack of accommodation (was avoidable) is keeping the market high, but for how long? In this context the new rate scheme being tried out here may have unintended consequences. It won’t make a jot of difference politically, but could have a marked impact on economic confidience. Is this another example of joined up government?

    In my opinion what really brings about a recession is confidence and the need to act ahead of the crisis, if you don’t get out fast (and dump) you can loose big time. In particular are the attitudes of Banks who one minute are lending like there is no tomorrow, and the next start calling in unsecured loans.

  • John East Belfast

    I think the current Property Tax is a blunt and unfair instrument.

    IMHO there should be a NI Federal Income Tax going to Stormont and a Local Income Tax going to the new Council. Just as they have in the US.
    It would of course be in pennies in the pound.

    Both could be collected via the normal Income Tax system.
    It would be kept simple – ie pay Flat at your current Highest Rate – be it 22% or 40% with no allowances etc. The Local Income Tax would be paid over to the relevant authority based on your Post Code. If you moved house during a month then it would be the next month before it changed over.

    It would only be a couple of other parameters on Payroll Software.
    All other Taxes – Corporate, Capital Gains, VAT would be left out of it.

    That way everyone would be paying something and as it was at your highest marginal rate then it would be based on ability to pay.
    It means a family of 4 – all working – but living in a semi would be paying their full share to local finances and so would the OAP still living in the family home.

    At the same time people would see how much their councillors and MLAs were costing them and it might actually have the desired effect of bringing more people into politics.

  • Crataegus

    John East Belfast

    I really wish that what you suggest would happen.

    In addition I think we need to look at taxing the added value of property that occurs on obtaining planning approval in certain sectors. Because there is a packet to be made out of development it is driving all sorts of anti social proposals. Vandalism on a mega scale!

    We also need to consider business like Tesco who trade here and make returns elsewhere.

  • John East Belfast


    The key would be to keep it simple.

    I left the Corporates out of it because the general view is that our Corporate rates are too high and as you are aware there is a major debate about reducing them rather than increasing them.
    Dont forget that all major employers are already major payers via 12.8% NIC – you could do something in that arena – but overall chasing corporates for more money would be counter productive.

    It should be left to the citisens and their own incomes.
    I probably would leave Property Tax on investment Property though – ie property with the sole object to rent out or sell at acapital gain.
    A certain % of the House Value would eqaute to the appropriate portion of income that one would expect to derive from that asset.

    The key would be too keep it simple but bring as many into the net as possible to make it fair.

  • Crataegus

    John East Belfast

    I am all for a simple tax structures and having a serious look at competitive tax structures.

    With regards tax accrued from land, rezoning and obtaining planning approval my reasoning goes like this.

    I own 5 acres that is rezones, so instead of it being worth say £35000-£50000 it is suddenly worth say £5 million for housing. Big profit for doing nothing and who pays for the services, schools and health centres?

    Equally if I buy a house with a good garden for say £250000 to £300000 and get planning permission for say 6 houses the value shoots up to perhaps £600,000 or I buy a house and obtain approval to convert and extend it into say 6-10 ‘apartments’ which sell at say £140,000 each again a large profit for me but those who neighbour the development often lose value, amenity, privacy and all the rest.

    It is one that I think needs to be looked at, to discourage inappropriate development and ensure that developers or rather land speculators don’t collect the profit and leave society to pay the bills. I say this as a developer! I made serious gains simply by anticipating Lord Rooker’s announcement on Rural Planning for anticipating reduced supply. It is if you like gambling but society pays when people like myself win and in this case I did absolutely nothing that would benefit society. I didn’t even lay one brick. It shouldn’t be so easy.

  • Jo

    Its astounding that proposals for a developer contribution towards infrstaructure development is only now being considered and developed, to coin a phrase.

    Such a setup for a reasonable contribution should have been in place ages ago. Govt. was way too cautious, fearful of the brainless “state regulation wealth threatening” yappers.

  • If I were to make a demand for money and attach conditions to it, I’d be charged with blackmail. What makes the NIO think they’re above the law?

  • Reader

    Rupert: What makes the NIO think they’re above the law?
    A decade of relevant experience (in being above the law, that is…)

  • willowfield

    I’m not sure I see the objection in principle to paying a tax on one’s capital wealth as well as one’s income.

    There is great capital inequality in this country – moreso than income inequality.

  • John East Belfast


    “I’m not sure I see the objection in principle to paying a tax on one’s capital wealth as well as one’s income”.

    Taxes on Capital should be taxes on Capital Gain. Not just on capital value otherwise that definitley would be a case of paying taxes twice.

    For instance in principle I have no objection to capital gains taxing people’s private residences – but nobody would ever get elected on such a ticket.

    Just taxing the Capital Value means that 4 earners living under the same roof will pay the same tax to local authorities as the OAP widow across the street who’s family have moved on.

    That isnt right to me.

    The current rating system means too many people get off living tax free in Northern Ireland while others pay more than their share

  • Crataegus


    Rates don’t necessarily tax Capital they tax occupancy, if I rent an office or a house I am liable for the tax not the owner.

    The point John of East make is important, but there are numerous distortions caused by this tax. For example if I am an employer who wants to give good working conditions and more space to my employees then I am taxed on the space I rent and therefore pay more than someone who creates a modern tightly packed sweat shop. If I work them day and night then all the better. Is this what we want to encourage?

    Also some businesses need large floor areas, say carpet sales, and may have a low turnover compared to say a jewellers or a corner shop has a low turnover per square metre compared to Tescos. Should we have a tax system that favours Tescos and mail order?

    Rates should be abolished, it is a crazy tax, it is unfair, taxes people who may be facing bankruptcy and currently in the property market is creating all sorts of interesting anomalies. Ie Interesting to people like me who see opportunities opening partially created by the distortions in the market caused by the new rates regime.

  • ‘Just taxing the Capital Value means that 4 earners living under the same roof will pay the same tax to local authorities as the OAP widow across the street who’s family have moved on.

    That isnt right to me.’

    No, to me neither. But then the Poll Tax wasn’t popular either. Surely the only fair way of striking a regional rate is to take individual income into account.

    The new rates system isn’t strictly speaking a ‘capital tax’. For instance, private landlords might own umpteen properties and bundle the rates in with the rents (most do). They have vast amounts of capital but aren’t being hit for it. And many don’t pay tax on the additional income – ‘NO DSS’ being the classic giveaway.

    So, not only are they making life a misery for younger people trying to get on the property ladder, they’re dodging the rates burden too. Handy.