‘Let’s Talk’ about the rates?

Let’s Talk is back tonight with the first programme after the summer. Slugger regulars might be interested in the line up: NIO minister David Hanson, Martin Bell, Breidge Gadd and Bob McCartney. Since the subject of ‘rates’ is getting reasonable coverage, it also is likely to dominate the debate, with Bob ‘the rebel’ McCartney potentially leading the charge for radical opposition.

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  • david

    My rates have gone down under the new system, i think its great.

    Well done to all concerned.

  • Travis

    Kudos to David Hanson for introducing a much fairer system.

    Keep up the good work.

  • IJP

    I think the first two points above are decidedly nearer the popular mood than most politicians would think…

  • dantheman

    Rates are probably better now than before. Who cares if a group of upper class twats are getting taxed too much? They contribute little to society, just to their own bank accounts.

    “Oh no Cuthbert, now we can only go on safari three times next year! :-(”

    Fuck them. Fuck them all to hell and back.

    Viva la revolucion

  • Can somebody tell me what the point of Briege Gadd is? Does she only exist so she can be appointed to quangos? (quangoes?)

  • donny

    Very little support for those protesting against the new rates system.

    The could only manage a couple of thousand signatures during a whole week.

    Perhaps we don’t care if the rich are paying more, because they should be.

    Here! Here ! for the direct rule ministers.

  • The Dog

    Noticed that only Sinn Féin came out and said no to the rate cap that all the rich f&%k@7s in South Belfast are after.

    The SDLP bent the knee to their rich mates yet again and went for a cap that would only mean that joe average pays more so that colette rich bitch can pay less.

  • my, my we’re chippy tonight!

    “Fuck them. Fuck them all to hell and back.”

    “Perhaps we don’t care if the rich are paying more, because they should be.”

    “a cap that would only mean that joe average pays more so that colette rich bitch can pay less.”

    Here’s the point comrades, what is being proposed is a tax on the capital value of an asset not wealth or earnings. Until there is some linkage between ability to pay and usage of the services paid for via local taxation a cap can at least inject some fairness.

  • Those that will be hit hardest are the elderly, who may have lived in their houses for some time and therefore may not be monetarily rich even if the capital value of their home has risen, and young first-time buyers who find it hard enough getting onto the property ladder in the first place, and then when they do they find that their rates bills will go through the roof as landlords (who won’t have to pay rates) buy up every entry-level property in their area and artificially boost house values, thus putting extra pressure on their already high mortgage repayments.

  • Upper Falls

    Alastair Mc Donnell (who???) got an absolute roasting at the public rates meeting in South Belfast. The DUP came across very well, having consistantly opposed the review of rates.

    The Missing Person(MP) only caught on to the whole rates issue when his own mansion was over valued by £100,000. My interesting was that almost exclusively the packed audience was made up of the middle classes, from whom Mc Donnell recieved a lot of his votes.

    A lot of people have turned on the SDLP over this issue.

  • UF-

    “The DUP came across very well, having consistantly opposed the review of rates.”

    Rubbish.

    All the parties in the Assembly voted to replace the system of basing rates on rental valuations, which is outdated, unfair, and discriminates against those on low incomes.

    As it happens, since 2002 the SDLP has been calling for a system based on ability to pay.

    Where has the DUP been?

    And given that the British Remote Control Direct Rule Ministers took over the review when the Assembly collapsed and have now proposed these odious plans, the only way they can be undone is if the DUP forms an Executive with Sinn Féin, the SDLP and the UUP. Will they do this, or will they throw the people of the north to the mercy of the Treasury? The ball is very much in their court.

  • WindsorRocker

    El Mat,

    Anyone who thinks that a devolved Assembly will be able to “undo” these odious plans needs to think again. The Treasury have already factored the new industrial rates, the new capital based rates and the new water rates into their calculation of the annual subvention that they give to us. They ain’t going to increase that subvention so any “undoing of these odious plans” will result in lower funding for schools, hospitals and roads. Sad but true… any new devolved government will be the equivalent of glorified school prefect doling out the headmaster’s pocket money…..

  • rapunsel

    abolish rates altogether. Collect through the normal tax system with better emphasis on redistribution and distribute back to local areas based on some formula utilising population, geographical access to services, need etc.

  • IJP

    Pakman

    Now we’re inside and not outside a polling station, can I play devil’s advocate – what precisely is the difference between an asset and wealth?

    If I have a house worth £250K, I lose my job and have no income, can I not sell my house and by another for, say £150K to make up some money to live on?

    But I’m open to explanation?

    rapunsel

    You might well be on to something there.

    Throw in some “user pays” stuff (like motorway tolls) and you have a fair system… not unlike that in the Republic?

  • Reader

    IJP: what precisely is the difference between an asset and wealth?
    Wealth = Asset – Mortgage
    IJP: If I have a house worth £250K, I lose my job and have no income, can I not sell my house and by another for, say £150K to make up some money to live on?
    How do you get a mortgage for the new house while you are unemployed? What you get to spend is (Price minus Mortgage) with no chance of a new mortgage. You could get a lock-up garage and sell your furniture to pay the rates. (Liberals do seem to have moved on a bit since the 20th Century…_

  • Bushmills

    McCartney’s kack enunciated at the recent rates meeting was extremely irresponsible. Let me tell you comrades, it’ll be a cold, cold day in Hell before Bob the Snob, a man once described by John McBlane as “so posh he gets out of the shower to take a piss” goes to gaol for his beliefs.

    Personally, I blame the Stoops and the Official Unionist Party – they kick-started the whole rates review.

  • Bushmills

    PS.

    El Mat, your shameless spinning on behalf of the Silver-Fox McDonnell is to be admired, but please don’t deny your party’s role in the fiasco now facing us.

  • Gum

    The new rates system is much fairer than the current one. The rates are going up in the richest areas of Ulster and going down in areas where the property value isnt as high. The majority of people benefit. If the changes seem harsh to the richest people in our society it is only because they are the minority who it affects. They can and should pay. And also not be so selfish!

  • Brian Boru

    We don’t have rates here in the South. The Unionists making their bed again, have to lie in it. Shame the Nationalists are forced to do the same. Another disadvantage of the Union. 😉

  • George

    Is there no waiver system on rates so pensioners don’t have to pay?

    Brian
    “We don’t have rates here in the South. The Unionists making their bed again, have to lie in it. Shame the Nationalists are forced to do the same. Another disadvantage of the Union. ;)”

    Obviously you seem to have forgotten the fact that FF promising to abolish rates to get back into power in 1977 nearly bankrupt the country and led to mess our local services are only recovering from now nearly three decades later.

    Nothing was spent on waste disposal, water treatment etc. for the guts of 20 years. Hardly clever.

    The country can live without rates because it is currently in a position to fund local government with central taxes. This wasn’t always the position and may not always be so.

  • IJP

    El Matador

    All the parties in the Assembly

    No, all the parties in the Executive. Alliance was not in the Executive and voted against.

    Reader

    I’m trying to get to the crux of the argument, don’t put words in my mouth. My party’s position is that tax should be on income (including at local level) – a position it has held since 1972, in direct opposition to all the other parties who are moaning about it now, and a position I backed on another thread.

    Nevertheless, I want to get to the crux of the argument for the sake of good debate.

    Essentially the argument is that tax should be based on “ability to pay”, i.e. essentially on our wealth.

    Yet the argument is also that the house we own (forget mortgages and debts) somehow does not count towards that wealth or towards that “ability to pay”.

    I remain to be convinced. The reason I personally oppose “property tax” is actually that we already pay it in inheritance tax – a real outrage of a tax if ever there was one…

  • Crataegus

    How many times do we have to go through this the proposed rate system does not tax income and therefore does not reflect ability to pay.

    We have been through this before, go for local income tax and tax the capital gain on the sale of the house. That way the more you earn the more you pay and with an added bonus that you take money out of the housing market and help keep the price of houses down. Such a system would be a lot fairer and we could get rid for those employed in the rates office. An additional saving.

    What really bothers me is the impact of rates on the business community taxing businesses on the office they use rather than their profit really is stupid.

    For all those left wing trots that want to tax their grannies out of their houses let me tell you that rates really do not impinge on the truly wealthy or the crafty.

    Rates should be abolished.

    IJP

    The argument about a house being an asset is that it is only an asset when you sell it. But it is often more complicated than that as there are mortgages and loans secured against the property so moving may not be possible.

    Modifying readers equation

    Wealth = Asset – (Mortgage + loans)

    We should treat domestic property as we do commercial property. We should tax the capital gain. That way your tax reflects someone’s ability to pay.

    To put it another way is it right that I can move from one house to another do a quick paint job and a lay some carpets and sell and move on pocketing the profit tax free yet a builder doing the same would be taxed? If you close this tax loophole you may reduce the amount of speculation on domestic property.

  • CS Parnell

    You know, I am fed up listening to this gurning about the rates.

    Total hypocrisy on all sides. The unionists claim it is undemocratic when in fact it is the decision of the government and parliament they want to rule the place.

    On the Nationalist side they just want their Brit cake – the NHS and all that – and their Irish bill. The Shinners are the worst of it – they seem to think taxes were invented by General Sir Frank Kitson as a way of repressing the Mau Mau/the Boys. Bollix.

    Sorry, it – it doesn’t work that way. Services have to be paid for. And, as Harold Wilson might have said, I am fed up listen to you bunch of spongers thinking the world owes you a living.

    If you want to find a different way of financing local government then get back in the Assembly, otherwise STFU.

  • dave

    “so posh he gets out of the shower to take a piss”

    Good stuff, Bushmills

  • Bushmills- Personally, I blame the Stoops and the Official Unionist Party – they kick-started the whole rates review.

    & UF-

    Perhaps you’d care to look at the following verbatim quotes from the Northern Ireland Assembly session of Monday 19th November 2001 to see how the DUP and SDLP respectively actually approached the rates issue at the time the review was first mooted:

    “Mr Hay: Everyone welcomes the review of rates in Northern Ireland.”

    Nuff said.

    “Mr Durkan: The review of rating policy will examine how the rating system is structured and how rates are levied. It will try to ensure
    that equity is more strongly reflected in the new regime… The question of equity within the system is central to the review process.”

    I could go on…

    Of course, the real blame lies with the British government (and indeed those northern politicians who refused to reform the Executive), resulting in these ridiculous proposals now being foisted upon us. There was nothing wrong with the concept of reviewing the rates system per se- the problems lie in what happened subsequently.

    IJP-

    So the Alliance opposed the idea of reviewing the existing rates system? Perhaps then you could explain why Alliance Party leader David Ford said on Wednesday 21st July 2004: “The review of the rates system was a golden opportunity to move completely from an unfair, antiquated system based on property values,
    to one based on income.”

    Hmm… doesn’t sound much like opposition to me. Much to the contrary in fact.

    Instead of misguidedly attempting to apportion blame for the current situation, people should be uniting to look at what can be done. Clearly the Direct Rule (mal)Administration is not going to listen- it’s not in their interests. However, as Hain said, Brown will be more likely to listen to elected politicians speaking together when it comes to getting a good deal for the north financially- that’s what we should be aiming for.

  • colin

    The only people who are being adversely affected by the new system is those who should be paying more.

    Someone living in a 500k house should be paying more, a lot more.

    The fact there has been no ground swell of opposition to the new system, apart from the wealthy s/Belfast types, shows that its a pretty good system.

    Why should someone on a low income, pay another £400-500 per year just to reduce the rates bill of a wealthy house holder on the Malone Road.

  • Reader

    colin: Someone living in a 500k house should be paying more, a lot more.
    Why? Or, to put it another way, should they also have to pay more for bread? Do they have bigger bins to be emptied?

  • Colin-

    You are wrong on your point that only ‘rich’ types will be affected. For instance, my rates will double- I am not rich, nor do I live in a mansion. I am simply paying the price for landlords (who hilariously will not have to pay any rates) snapping up every property in my area, thus artificially pushing house prices up.

    As regards the point you make about income- you are correct. The wealthy should not be subsidised by those on low incomes- however, the current proposals take no account of income, but are based on a subjective valuation of one’s house, regardless of one’s ability to pay.

  • George

    El Matador,
    your story of being lumbered with a valuable house merely by circumstance of landlords pushing up the prices nearby has given me an idea.

    How about hiking up the stamp duty on property and forgetting the rates.

    I see that in the UK stamp duty on houses above 500k is 4%. In the Republic an equivalent house (value 800k euro) would attract 9%.

    So when a landlord buys a house in your area (say it’s worth 500k) he pays 45k in stamp duty instead of the 20k.

    I’m beginning to realise why we have no rates south of the border. Who needs it with the stamp duty revenues?

    Forget the rates up north, hike up the stamp duty.

    If you don’t own a property, you don’t pay a sausage. The more valuable your property, the bigger the sausage.

  • Crataegus

    El Matador

    Instead of misguidedly attempting to apportion blame for the current situation, people should be uniting to look at what can be done.

    Good and timely post and very true.

    What surprises me is how difficult it seems to be for some to realise just how bad rates as structured actually are as a form of tax. They interrelationship with the property market, which is at best an unpredictable beast, produce all sorts of anomalies and there are many people and many small businesses who end up paying a disproportionate amount without any reference either to usage or their ability to pay.

    The value of the property you live or work in can go through the roof, but your income or business profits could be going through the floor. Moving is costly and disruptive and may not be possible for a business. Also as I have said on previous threads employers who provide spacious working conditions are at a disadvantage against those who operate crowded sweat shops. This sort of distortion just cannot be right. I have not heard a good rational argument for keeping the rating system. The arguments for seem to be based not on any real principle or notions of fairness, but on one side spite and envy, and on the other people who are in the unfortunate position of trying to buy a house for the first time.

    Making the elderly suffe,r because they live in large houses where they have lived and raised their families just isn’t the way to go for let us assume they are forced into a sheltered housing scheme (as yet unbuilt) what first time house buyer is likely to be able to afford that house?

    Equally a major problem in residential property is the tax breaks and the loopholes that these create for speculators. The system encourages speculators, people who buy property or land and simply sit on it and resell again in 6 months at a profit. It also does nothing to address the problems relating to the buy to let bubble and it does not build one extra house which would address the real problem of housing.

    Rates are about paying for services and what we should be doing is try to set up a fair system based either on usage or ability to pay.

  • John East Belfast

    There should be Capital Gains Tax on your Home calculated on the increase in value of that home when you sell it. This would also take the heat out of the housing market.
    It couldnt be retrospective but should be introduced at a time in the future and from thereon.

    All such Tax should go to the NI Federal Govt – (if it ever meets again)not to HMRC

    There is no intelligent argument that can say that annual property taxes will be appropriate in terms of either (as Crat correctly puts it) – usage or ability to pay.

    The latter should derive from ongoing income and be levied on individuals within NI and the Council area. The former should take into account the age and number of people living in the house. Any gain on the hosue should be dealt with via the Capital Gains Tax as above.

    The present system means a widowed OAP in her family home is paying the same as a family of 4 including a couple of late teens and early twenties who are all wage earners creating 4 times the rubbish and enjoying the local council leisure facilities and the pop concerts they decide to finance every now and again. They may even take a trip down to the Council subsidised annual St Pats parade.
    The OAP prefers to stay at home.

    Meanwhile there should be a local income tax with both a Federal and a Council element.

    This could easily be collected via the PAYE system as a couple of extra parameters on a payroll system – as occurs in the US.

    I dont think this would necessarily reduce the local income tax bill of many of the people protesting – but at least they would feel it was a fair assessment of income

    eg currently a professional couple in South Belfast with a Joint Income of £120k (say £80k and £40k) and living in a £850k home will pay about £5k per annum property tax.

    Depending on what you put the Federal and Local Tax Rate – say 2% and 1% it would come out fairly similar.

    Local Parties would then be held to account on getting that 2% down to 1.5% @ Stormont and 0.5% at local level – it would be good for accountability anbd NI Politics

    The most important thing in this is there would be transparancy to what is being paid and what is being received in return from elected representaives – that might involve more people in the political process here.

    The Property Tax debate will not do that – it will simply make the North Down/South Belfast crowd feel totally helpless.

    This new Rates System is such a bad idea on every front.

  • English

    This tax on the establishment of Northern Ireland is both very just and highly amusing. The argument about the poor widow in the half million pound house had me in stitches. I also wondered whether Mark Carruthers lives in a 500K + house – he was unussionally passionate about the subject!

    Nice point made on the show about there being no rates in the republic and only 27% tax on wages -if this is true it would suggest Northern Ireland’s population would be a lot better off financially. Of course this was ignored by Bob McCartney! The reality is the British Governement is only just warming up and there will be many more bitter pills for the Protestant establishment to swallow – about time too! They owe Britain big time and have been previously subsidised for years by the mainland – not anymore!

  • Crataegus

    John of East.

    I am in total agreement.

    What many on the left seem to mix up is the important difference between wealth in assets and income, but with this tax, structured as it is, we are also often taxing the tenant who has no wealth rather than the owner.

    There is also a wider issue about the entrepreneurial ethos of society. I have been fortunate and made a good living on property speculation and development. To my mind speculation should be discouraged and development encouraged. There is a very important difference between the two speculators produce nothing, they are parasites, developers increase the Nation’s assets.

    Also if you have large amounts being gambled in property it is forcing up property prices and it is also starving other forms of investment of finance. Make speculation in property difficult and tax it and force people to be a lot more imaginative in how they invest.

    English

    They owe Britain big time and have been previously subsidised for years by the mainland – not anymore!

    There are lots of places in the UK that are subsidised by others, there are lots of socio economic groups that are subsidised by others, there are the long term ill who are subsidised that’s how countries work. NI is the same country, and I for one pay a hell of a lot more in than I am ever going to get out. I am probably paying for wars I don’t agree with, but also the poor in Liverpool or care for the elderly in Durham which I am glad to do.

    Also Britain is responsible for creating the mess in Ireland in the first place so please less sanctimonious nonsense. If you want a united Ireland shouting at people and discriminating against them just isn’t the way to achieve it.

    You start from the premise of poke the wealthy Unionist toffs in the eyes and get rid of the sodding place. Fair enough you are entitled to your opinion, but this has sod all to do with avoiding paying for services or a United Ireland and is not confined to Unionists. It is a debate about devising a way of paying (yes paying) for what we use and doing so in a manner that is fair and that does not have all the negative complications that rates produce. If we can come up with a better and efficient system here it may be of use elsewhere in the UK. Has dam all to do with a United Ireland that’s is a much more complex problem than you seem to appreciate.

    Also I probably pay more than most in tax and for business reasons have several abodes one of which is in central London and probably worth considerably more than the figure you quote. Let me tell you that rates just don’t register on my personal list of financial concerns, they actually suit me. I am actually arguing against my own personal interests in the furtherance of fairness. If you want to get more out of someone like myself go for income and capital gains.

  • John East Belfast

    Crataegus

    Surely speculators are just developers with a longer vision and prepared to take a greater risk

  • Crataegus

    John of East

    Surely speculators are just developers with a longer vision and prepared to take a greater risk

    No I would differentiate for instance if you remember all the fuss about rural housing, at that time I was buying rural sites because I thought it was probable that some fool was about to suddenly cut of supply. I then sold off after the predicted event making a very good profit. That’s speculation there was no substantive change in what was being sold. A very high percentage of new house now being bought are being purchased by speculators who paint and put in carpets then sell off. Because so many are at it in a market with limited supply they are in themselves causing price increases, that’s also speculation.

    If I buy a piece of land and build a hotel, offices or houses that’s development. Even if I just get approvals and sell on something concrete has been done.

    Speculators sit on their arse and make money solely because they have access to money, but with all these things someone pays and often it is the person who really wants the house or piece of farm land, the person who has not the same access to funds. I think speculation is fundamentally wrong and bad for society, I do it simply because I can and am allowed to. It is simply about restricting supply and is a distortion in a free market.

  • John East Belfast

    Crataegus

    For every speculator there is a Seller – Speculators are only acting as Buyer to complete the transaction. If there werent sellers there would be no specualtors – it is not a one way street.

    The type of speculation you are beating yourself up about goes on everyday in the financial markets in the City of London – measured in trillions.

    I agree it is a different matter when somebody is sitting on a scarce and controlled (ie planning restrictions) commodity like land and leaking it back into the market to keep current prices high while effectively keeping others homeless.

    Such practices should be outlawed like other abuses of the capitalist system.

    However there is nothing wrong with taking your spare cash and buying a field, when others wont, in the hope that someday it will be worth more.

  • Crataegus

    John of East

    I’m not sure that I would agree with you with regards the comparison with the stock market if I buy shares I am buying a part of a company that either produces something or provides a service and I get paid a dividend depending on how well the company is prospering. Indeed with the stock market we can even enter the world of the derivatives and buy and speculate on things that aren’t there yet, stake out options on Pork Belly futures and the like.

    Speculating on land is more like the art or antique market. You buy; it hangs about and you hope it increases in value, but there are several crucial differences between land and art. Firstly it really doesn’t matter if someone corners the market in impressionist paintings, those who must have pay through the nose, but the rest of us get on with our life. If a group of people corner the property market they can cause major problems to the economy. Land usage is crucial to any economy. The second as you rightly point out is the supply end which is regulated and people like myself really are able to predict likely changes and in fact lobby for them. Every pound I gain in land speculation is being paid by larger mortgages. It is like war time racketeers. I gain but do nothing useful to earn that gain and it is very easy money all you need is access to funds and a nose for peaks and troughs. It is so much easier that other things that I have had a go at.

    I have a part interest in some housing development and at present well over half the houses being bought are sitting unoccupied and will go on the market again in a few month time. This is parasitic behaviour and given the difficulty many people have in buying a house I think it is just wrong.

  • English

    Crataegus,

    There are lots of places in the UK that are subsidised by others, there are lots of socio economic groups that are subsidised by others, there are the long term ill who are subsidised that’s how countries work. NI is the same country, and I for one pay a hell of a lot more in than I am ever going to get out. I am probably paying for wars I don’t agree with, but also the poor in Liverpool or care for the elderly in Durham which I am glad to do.

    Firstly Northern Ireland is not the same country. Secondly Liverpool and Durham are superior in terms of wealth to NI, they do not need your help. Thirdly England subsidises Wales and Scotlan which I resent, but also Northern Ireland which I detest. What have we ever got out of it?

    Also Britain is responsible for creating the mess in Ireland in the first place so please less sanctimonious nonsense. If you want a united Ireland shouting at people and discriminating against them just isn’t the way to achieve it.

    I never said anything in relation to uniting Ireland, but I agree with your sentiments about Britain making a mess of things!

    You start from the premise of poke the wealthy Unionist toffs in the eyes and get rid of the sodding place. Fair enough you are entitled to your opinion, but this has sod all to do with avoiding paying for services or a United Ireland and is not confined to Unionists. It is a debate about devising a way of paying (yes paying) for what we use and doing so in a manner that is fair and that does not have all the negative complications that rates produce. If we can come up with a better and efficient system here it may be of use elsewhere in the UK. Has dam all to do with a United Ireland that’s is a much more complex problem than you seem to appreciate.

    I never said anything about a United Ireland!

    Also I probably pay more than most in tax and for business reasons have several abodes one of which is in central London and probably worth considerably more than the figure you quote. Let me tell you that rates just don’t register on my personal list of financial concerns, they actually suit me. I am actually arguing against my own personal interests in the furtherance of fairness. If you want to get more out of someone like myself go for income and capital gains.

    So what? All I am pointing out is that I think England is going to experiment of Northern Ireland in relation to taxation until you finally leave the Union. I am sure the taxes will target the establishment rather than the majority of the population. Do you agree Water charges are fair? I do!

  • Crataegus

    English

    Or should I csay little Englander.

    I take it your position is that you would like rid of Wales, Scotland and NI and how that happens or its consequence is of little concern of yours as long as you are rid of them.

    But why stop there and why not get rid of some of those ‘useless’ regions in England? As I said to you before I pay my tax in London live there much of the time and could easily support an argument for getting rid of regions that aren’t cutting it. Why should I and my neighbours bother with Wigan, Scunthorpe or Teeside? There are plenty of needy places in London.

    Westminster is the government of where exactly?

    As for Water Rates I believe services have to be paid for the questions are, is it a fair system and is it just a means to privitisation, and are we paying part twice.

  • IJP

    El Matador

    Post 25 – suggest you have another wee read at that.

    The review of the rates system was a golden opportunity

    But it was missed!

    Also quite obvious from Alliance’s opposition in the Assembly itself at the time of the debate.

    Couldn’t be clearer than that.

  • IJP

    It is absolutely fundamental who was responsible for this.

    It is quite evident that the four sectarian parties can’t govern.

    I think people have every right to be aware of that fact.

    We are seeking political institutions not to provide jobs for the boys, but to govern this place. And when we have them, we need to know who is capable, and who isn’t.

    I’m all for people uniting – to try the alternative to the sectarian political system which does not work.

  • IJP-

    If it was a golden opportunity, then why would the Alliance have opposed it? That would be rather bizarre. And the reason it was missed was because the Assembly collapsed. The reason why we are faced with the current system is that the British Government took it upon themselves to use the opportunity to impose a system of their own design divorced from anything the local parties would have introduced. (BTW, can you point me towards the debate where the Allaince opposed it in the Assembly- I would be interested to read their arguments).

    But as I say, it’s pointless playing the blame game- the only way to solve this is to restore the Assembly. Simple as that.

  • Crataegus

    IJP

    Well said

  • English

    But why stop there and why not get rid of some of those ‘useless’ regions in England? As I said to you before I pay my tax in London live there much of the time and could easily support an argument for getting rid of regions that aren’t cutting it. Why should I and my neighbours bother with Wigan, Scunthorpe or Teeside? There are plenty of needy places in London.

    Crateagus,

    These regions are not useless, they are just as valuable to England and the English identity as London, and are a lot more valuable than Northern Ireland which has nothing to do with us.

    You wouldn’t understand what it means to be English because you are foreign, that is why you suggest ditching English regions – ridiculous. All of the English regions have to fend for themselves because they are not receiving government subsidies like Wales, Scotland and NI. That is one of my points, why should the other countries in the Union get special treatment?

    I believe in EU Regional policy and greater governance at a local level. Devolution is just a small part of this. More importantly I believe in national (seperate) self determination for the Irish, Welsh, Scots and the English! I also believe that this will eventually happen, but probably not in my lifetime. I am not a Nationalist but a European, I just feel that the Union serves no purpose to England because our circumstances have changed and we no longer have control of a large Empire or fear attack from our European neighbours.

  • John East Belfast

    English

    “All of the English regions have to fend for themselves because they are not receiving government subsidies like Wales, Scotland and NI”

    That must be one of the stupidest things I have ever seen written on Slugger.

  • Crataegus

    English

    Northern Ireland which has nothing to do with us.

    Sorry but it does, you helped create the problem

    You wouldn’t understand what it means to be English because you are foreign, that is why you suggest ditching English regions – ridiculous.

    The question is what is being English, you say that I am foreign and you may well be right on that, but if I am not English then I am certainly not Irish and from what I see around me it would be very difficult to define English. Is the definition confined to say my wife and her type, conservative rural Oxford background and girls school or does it include the Scoucers of Liverpool? How many generations of being born and bread in England do you have to have to be English, do you have to trace you linage back to Saxon Harold?

    why should the other countries in the Union get special treatment?

    I am not for any region English or otherwise receiving ‘special’ treatment but what we need to do is set a process that applies fairly to all. The important word in Union and it is governed from Westminster.

    If I am foreign and ‘foreigners’ like myself decided to leave let me tell you unequivocally that the economy of London would have a cardiac.

    All of the English regions have to fend for themselves because they are not receiving government subsidies
    That is simply not true there is a net outflow from the South East to pay for services in the regions but I would argue in the defence of all regions that within any jurisdiction it is difficult to analysis true movements of finance. I for example may earn money in Ireland or abroad and that may show up in London.
    I have some sympathy for the position that England now finds itself in. It is due to an utterly botched and ill considered regionalisation policy. I personally would like to have seen the administration of the entire country considered and a lot of power and responsibility devolved from Westminster to the Regions including the Regions in England for I believe that the current regime favours the South East to the disadvantage of all other regions.

    I believe in EU Regional policy and greater governance at a local level.

    Here I would definitely agree with you but I would see regions somewhat differently, a country isn’t necessarily a region.

    With regards the Union no longer serving any purpose to England the reverse of that is that if it were an advantage to England you would be in favour? Once you start dissembling a country you may be surprised the impact that it can have and it is not always predictable.

  • English

    ngland is disadvantaged. I got this information from the English Parliament website. The UK government spends the following on each country:

    Identifiable Expenditure 2002-03
    Total Spending Per Head, Per Year
    England Scotland Wales N.I
    Education & Training 911 1,038 970 1,215
    Health 1,085 1,262 1,186 1,214
    Environment Protection 98 200 168 184
    Economic Development 77 105 208 328
    Social Protection
    2,337 2,629 2,881 2,774
    TOTAL (p.h., p.y) £5,453 £6,579 £6,479 £7,267
    PESA 2004, HM Treasury

    Movement towards a regional assembly in the North East of England was partly driven by the disparity between its funding and that of neighbouring Scotland. Indeed, taking the 2000/2001 figures, if the level of expenditure in Scotland had been matched in the North East, the region would have received a further £627 per person, an increase of £1.35 billion. This is a disparity maintained by the UK Government. Scotland received more money before devolution, it still receives more despite the fact that it can now raise money through taxation of its own people. An English parliament is required to address this affront to the people of the North East and other parts of England.

    The funding gap (£/head) between the North East and Scotland has grown in recent years. In 1999/2000 it stood at £376 but according official treasury figures this has leapt to £627 for the last financial year of 2000/2001.

    In the year 2000 Tony Blair said: “The Barnett Formula has its own inbuilt review in the sense that it narrows the gap over time.”

    The Barnett Formula is in theory supposed to equalise spending between Scotland, Wales and England but there is no sign of this. England desperately needs its own parliament to fight for its share of money, not just for the North East but for all of England.

    It is doubtful that a North East Assembly would have had the necessary political clout to achieve this aim. What’s more, it would not have addressed the funding disparity between Scotland and England. A North East assembly might have just succeeded in taking funding from the other parts of England instead of forcing the UK Government to distribute money around the UK fairly.

    Representation
    Ministers of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland can represent the whole of the UK at Brussels. Neither England as a whole, nor its proposed regions can do this.

    In the House of Commons, Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish MPs can vote on purely English affairs and affect what happens to England, but English MPs are prohibited from voting on matters purely affecting their countries. This is because England has no Parliament of its own where people of England can decide things for themselves.

    In May 2003 Scottish Labour MPs voted in favour of foundation hospitals in England despite the fact that the Scottish Labour Party had rejected them for Scotland where English representatives have no say.

    In England there are fewer MPs per head of population than in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland.

    Despite having achieved devolution, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland still have special ministers in the UK government dedicated to furthering their interests. England has none. The Scottish Office, Welsh Office and Northern Irish Office are charged with ensuring that their respective nations’ interests are represented within the UK.

    Nationhood
    In the event of a YES vote on UK entry into the European Monetary Union, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and all the continental nations of Europe would have representation provided by their national parliaments. England has no parliament so it would be represented by the UK Parliament. England will be the only nation of Europe without specific representation for its people.

    Europe of the Regions produced a map of England that famously omitted England yet included the other nations of the UK. This is the reality of England’s situation. England is a political non-entity: The proposed regional assemblies of England will not have the powers of the Scottish Parliament. As John Prescott has commented “People do not expect the equivalent of a Scottish Parliament for the English regions.” An English Parliament is needed to provide parity with the people of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland because the people of England do expect that.

    Without any democratic overall guidance in the form of an English Parliament the regionalisation of England will result in English regions squabbling over budget allocations, and fighting for EU funds with all the members of the EU. The result will be a Balkanised England – this is the end of England as a cohesive unit.

  • Comrade Stalin

    I agree with IJP and those who believe that the complainers are largely people who are well off. I’m personally doing alright, my rates increased by about 20% following the review. I’d rather not pay the extra money, but on the face of it I have to accept that it is fair. Fact is, people with large assets such as big houses are well off.

    On the subject of calculating wealth, these equations balancing income/assets and loans are wide of the mark. Surely a loan is not simply negative gross wealth; you used the loan to purchase something. The cost to you will be in the form of depreciation and interest. As such, anyone who takes out a loan or mortgage is taking a risk which they should properly consider. Aside from things like these changes to rating, anything can change including interest rates, status of employment, etc. If you haven’t allowed for leeway then any trouble you get into is your fault.

    The only group I feel real sympathy for are the pensioners; those cases should be looked at. I would not expect pensioners to have mortgages or loans, but I would be concerned about pensioners who have borrowed against the equity in their property (an option less available to people who own low-value houses).

    You are wrong on your point that only ‘rich’ types will be affected. For instance, my rates will double- I am not rich, nor do I live in a mansion. I am simply paying the price for landlords (who hilariously will not have to pay any rates) snapping up every property in my area, thus artificially pushing house prices up.

    El Mat,

    It sounds like you’re a student in the Holy Lands or something (forgive me if I’ve got that wrong). I’m not sure why you’re arguing against this, apart from the inconvenience you’re going to bear; the invisible hand is doing it’s job. If you regard these rates increases as unreasonable, then surely you will move to a neighbourhood where the rates are lower, or at least you will look closely at the rates before deciding on moving into a given area. If your contemporaries do the same, then landlords will be forced to increase incentives (eg by reducing rent) in order to get people to move in; the increased incentives will effect their yield which will in turn effect the property values and the rates themselves. To me, this is actually an example of the rates system doing it’s job.

    I see no particular argument in favour of intervening so that the students can live in cushy areas next-door to the university. Subsidized train/bus tickets make it inexpensive for students to live in much cheaper areas outside of Belfast, such as along the Larne railway line. Commuting is a way of life in a big city.

    George:

    I’m beginning to realise why we have no rates south of the border. Who needs it with the stamp duty revenues?

    That system will fall in a heap when the property market slows down.

    The Irish government must have a formula that it uses to allocate funding to regional councils. Do you know what this formula is ? I’d be very surprised if it was not a source of controversy, and the idea of not having locally-administered taxation has limitations of it’s own. That said, employers and business should absolutely not be paying regional tax or rates of any kind; companies should be taxed only on their profitability.

    On the subject of blame, that lies with the electorate and politicians in Northern Ireland. The system is being imposed because our crap politicians refuse to run this country properly. If you don’t like it, then elect politicians who will actually work to improve the system. If you refuse to change your tribal vote then you lose the right of complaint.

  • Crataegus

    Comrade

    You miss the point should local services be paid for by a tax on property or a tax on income and capital therefore ability to pay. It is an important point and of fundamental importance in relation to the business rate.

    You mention rates creating pressures in the property market, and mention students travelling from Larne. I would have thought that the current property prices were pressure enough and should we seek to emphasise the spikes? Worse still should we base tax on property bubbles? To my mind this is a flawed concept.

  • John East Belfast

    English

    The UK wants a uniform Federal Tax system and standard of education, health and welfare across the nation.

    When you do this then it is obvious that you can take a red pen and draw many borders throughout the kingdom and you will get Net givers and takers.

    It is convenient and logical to do that with the current borders of England, Scotland, Wales & NI.
    However so what ?
    You could equally take that pen within within those areas itself – or indeed within England _around 1.8m people) and you will get all kinds of results.
    Including many Net givers within large areas of NI.

    An internal solution might be to play around with the fiscal regimes of the regions so as to jump start a celtic tiger.
    However the mandarins within the UK Treasury have long since calculated that they would rather get 30% from the BT’s and BPs than have the UK regions screw things up.
    Therefore it is better for economic stability to slip the regions a few billion every year.

    You would say just take a scalpel to these regions but the first things the three new parliaments will do is start creating fiscal havens for inward investment – this would have the same econic effect on England’s policy – especially in those English areas bordering Scotand and Wales – perhaps you would take a scalpel to them to ?

    How smalll would you like to make England ?

    Anyhow considering the ethnic multi culturalness of the English South East I cant see how you think that defines your Englishness but you have no affinity to your Celtic cousins with whom you have shared these island for thousands of years.

    I have traditionally though you were an Irish Republican troll who came on here to make mischief with unionists.

    Perhaps you are an English ourselves alone nationalist living in London ?

    It would be good if you could clarify your background so that we know who we are talking to.

  • English

    Englishman living in Northern Ireland who does not view himself as a nationalist but as a European citizen. I am pro-EU and would like greater regional government and the introduction of the Euro to the UK, I also think that the break up of the Union is a reasonable step in the future. What about yourself?

  • The “Northern Ireland Fair Rates Campaign” are now online @ http://www.fairratescampaign.co.uk

  • CS-

    “It sounds like you’re a student in the Holy Lands or something (forgive me if I’ve got that wrong).”

    If I were a student, I wouldn’t have to pay rates.

    You mention that people should move out of areas which are being overrun with buy-to-let properties. Why should they? Is this not an economic version of ethnic cleansing (not wishing to be over-dramatic, but you get my point)? It’s a bit like when some people argue that long-time residents of the Holy Lands should move out because of some students’ anti-social behaviour.

  • El Matador,

    The Fair Rates Campaign are a group of homeowners from the Belfast area, I’m from slightly further away – Greba-by-the-lough 🙂

    If I was a student in the Holy Lands I’d not be online at this time of day, sure it’s good drinking time now for students 😉

  • Apologies Cyberscribe- I ought to have used the full handle of the poster to whom I was addressing my post (Comrade Stalin)

  • El Matador,
    That’s a relief. I assumed,the word which has been defined as making an ass out of you and me, you were replying to my post about the website.

    If I change my nick to Zebedee? 🙂