Stealth Belfast City Council rates increases?

The BBC report on the 3.35% increase in household rates in Belfast neglects to mention that, due to the ongoing freeze in regional rates, the Belfast City Council-set district rate has actually increased by close to 8% [7.81%]. The Belfast Telegraph report, in which councillors talk of concerns about front-line services, does likewise. Although it’s correctedly noted here. On his blog, UTV’s Jamie Delargy has one explanation.

The councillors pat themselves on the back for keeping the increase down to modest levels. They say efficiencies have meant the costs of running their departments have risen by less than one per cent. So what explains the hike? The council says it is having to build up its reserves after four million pounds had to be repaid to the Dept of Finance.

Thing is, Belfast City Council district rates rose by nearly 7% last year… when there was also a regional rates freeze. They patted themselves on the back then too.