A most useful website

I got my little leaflet this evening, explaining water charges. How touching. Anyway, one of the more interesting snippets in the book is the website www.mycapitalvalueni.gov.uk. You can find out the worth of every single property in Northern Ireland by typing in the postcode and house number. What a useful little item that might prove to be in years to come. I don’t know whether these are scare tactics or the real deal, but I got a hell of a fright when I saw how much I will be paying when all the phasing is over. I have no issue in theory with paying for my water, and understand the social justice argument of providing water for all in society who require it. But I am beginning to think someone is sticking their arm in here! If your house is worth less than £100,000 you pay £135. Great. Find me one house in Northern Ireland selling for less than £100,000. I’ve been looking at houses recently and you might as well say everything is beginning to start on the market at around £200,000. Well thats your water bill up to £460 a year. And if you are unfortunate enough to have a house that has increased in value, you can pay up to £800 a year for your water. And you can live on your own, bathe in the river and drink Perrier, but you still have to pay for it.

I understand the infrastructure argument and the standing charges, but I am beginning to feel a more equitable way of charging would have been to have a standing charge to cover the essential works and meter the rest for usage. I know that there is a campaign going on at the moment, but I don’t know if they are getting their messages across adequately, not to mention advocating non payment of a utility bill which could lead to serious difficulties.

Maybe we need, oh I don’t know, maybe a group of people elected on our behalf that could debate the issues and ensure that the fairest and most equitable method of charging and paying for this basic element of life is brought to bear for the sake of the people who live here. Ach, thats being silly, we’ll never see a grown up group governing here.

  • joeCanuck

    Been a while Miss Fitz.

    Something that most people seem to miss is that water, at present, is not being delivered free.
    You’re all paying the cost right now, one way or another.
    This is simply a tax grab and to set things up for privitization.
    Before they privatized it in the U.K. ,the chief executives were earning maybe 50,000 a year (a great salary back in the early 80s). Within a very few years of privitization, they were paying themselves upwards of a million a year.
    Nice work if you can get it…..

  • Harry Flashman

    The link’s not working.

  • I Wonder

    Miss Fitz:

    Capital value isnt the same as market value.

    It is true as you say that it would be very dificult to find a house in NI that SELLS for less than £100,000.

    However, the values you look up on that very useful website, are capital, not market values as of Jan. 2005.

    There are many valued less than £100,000 and many significantly less than that. The capital value remains the basis of calculating rates and water charges for the rest of this decade (most likely.)

  • miss fitz

    I wonder

    “Capital values are not the same as current market values.

    They are based on the amount your property could reasonably have sold for at 1 January 2005, and the housing market has changed considerably since then.
    We use assumptions to keep the capital values fair, for example, that properties have standard kitchens and bathrooms for their age, type and location.”

    This is part of my point, to be honest. The houses were valued or a value was placed on them as of January 1st 2005. This represented the market value of the house at that particular point in time, thus ascribing to the property a capital value. (If I have this wrong, happy to be corrected)

    The market has gone up beyond recognition in the interim, leaving fewer and fewer houses within the ranges initially identified.

    House prices here are rising at the rate of 30% and more a year. By striking the values at the low end of the market, it neccesarily means that we are all pushed into the higher ranges.

  • I Wonder

    Miss Fitz

    The capital values as of Jan 2005 are now fixed and form the basis of both your rates bill and water charge.

    For example, a house may now be sellable for £200,000,and perhaps could sell for £250,000 next year but that does not mean the water charge/rates bill (2006) is based on its being worth £200,000 or that the 2007 bill is based on £250,000.

    Both bills will be based on its capital value as of 1/1/2005 re. the website. 🙂 Our house prices may indeed have soared and continue to soar but its the value was ascribed as of that date that determines both bills for the remainder of this decade.

  • Alan

    “It neccesarily means that we are all pushed into the higher ranges.”

    Ummmm . . . no. The cut off year is there to provide a basis on which to apportion an individual’s payment. The finance required from the rates is set by politicians and is a finite figure within the year.

    Therefore, once the mechanism is in place, your rates will only increase by the proportion of the annual increase in finance required – not according to the increase in the value of your house.

    That is until the next re-rating.

  • Alan

    Great minds – I Wonder 😉

  • I Wonder

    😉

  • I Wonder

    I think the next re-rating may commence 2008. However, even if values are dramatically revised upwards, the multiplier could be reduced so that, say, a 100% overall increase in values need not necesssarily be reflected in a 100% in craes in rates. In the case of water charges, they cannot collect more than they need to run the service.

    In any case…..

    Region Prop ch. Water

    England & Wales 1043 2941337
    Scotland 958 2951253
    Northern Ireland 668- 668

  • I Wonder

    try again

    Region Prop ch. Water Total

    England & Wales 1043 294 1337

    Scotland 958 295 1253

    Northern Ireland 668 668

  • Mick Fealty

    Alan,

    The capacity to re-rate remains with direct rule ministers, and could be a nice thumbscrew to use on politicians unwilling to do a deal. Or at least, that’s how one theory goes.

    However, one might be forgiven for thinking that it was a government device to make it difficult for everyone but the two ‘blocking’ parties: the bulk of whose support still live in working class areas.

  • I Wonder

    Those on “passport benefits” such as rate rebate will not be dramatically affected by water charging. I think that this group would contain a disproportionate % of DUP/SF voters.

    For the rest of us it is in effect a new tax.

  • Crataegus

    Mick
    I agree as a tool to apply pressure it does seem deeply flawed. If you want to exert pressure it must be impact on those who you need movement from. More effective would have been a local poll tax to pay for the politicians whilst they prevaricate. The sum wouldn’t be that much but the effect would be considerable.

    Water Charges are about privatisation. It’s part of the asset stripping process. Follow the money trail and the conclusion is the British are selling up and preparing to leave.

  • eranu

    “Follow the money trail and the conclusion is the British are selling up and preparing to leave.”
    bit dramatic there. that would mean the british government pulled out of england long ago!

    as a hopefully soon to be first time buyer, i can confirm that you wont get even a 2 bed terrace house for less than 160k in or around belfast (east and south anyway).

  • Crataegus

    eranu

    I don’t recall any proposal to sell off Whitehall and lease it back for example.

  • I Wonder

    The thinking behind introducing charging for water here follows the same logic as privatisation in England & Wales. EU legislation on water quality necessitates massive investment.

    Treasury didnt want to pay for it in the 80s so they passed it to the private sector who biolled customers to pay for it.

    The new GoCo will impose a new tax on us here to pay for the equivalent investment. Since there is a legacy of under investment here, we’ll pay through the nose from next April on, with a possible major *hike* when subsidies end in 2010…

  • headmelter

    The link still isn’t working.

  • The Third Policeman

    After a bit of searching this link seems to work-

    http://pip.vla.nics.gov.uk/search.asp?submit=form