Cost of deadlock could translate into a major hike in Northern Ireland’s household rates

It falls to UUP finance spokesperson Steve Aiken to join up the dots some of his political rivals would seemingly prefer not to talk about. As Gareth McKeown reports in today’s Irish News:

“Whilst I note the Secretary of State has said he is minded to bring forward legislation to set a regional rate, which would at least provide the finances to enable local councils to carry out their functions, we should be in no doubt that this will represent a significant hike in local household rates,” he said.

“Sinn Féin and the DUP had the opportunity to prepare a budget last December yet they refused. The reality of what happens when parties are elected who neither know or care how to properly administer public finances is unfortunately once again about to become clear.”

He also notes:

Green Party leader Stephen Agnew said anyone who supports devolution should be “appalled” at the thought of the Westminster government setting rates for Northern Ireland.

“The intervention by the Secretary of State should focus the minds of all political parties on the need to get devolution up and running, as the setting of rates could be the first in a long line of unpopular Tory decisions enforced on the people of Northern Ireland.”

Former SoS Owen Paterson (oh, and ‘tube’  is a word I thought I’d never hear a serious politician say publicly) has muttered darkly about threatening MLA salaries.

But as with George Osborne’s double jobbing as editor of the Evening Standard: if you stop paying politicians, someone else will. Threatening them with facing voters with the direct consequences of their actions (or inactions), is a different matter.

Our lot haven’t had a lot of that. As I argued before Christmas, aversion to accountability is where this crisis starts and finishes. Gareth concludes:

Land and Property Services confirmed yesterday that rate bills for the financial year 2017/2018 will be late due to a delay in the setting of the regional rate. The district rate has already been set by local councils.

Under normal circumstances LPS would send out rate bills at the end of this week, but instead officials will send out a letter to each of the roughly 560,000 households in the north with advice and further information for ratepayers.

LPS is putting plans in place to allow bills to issue in May, giving ratepayers the choice of making payment by the usual 10 instalments and avail of early payment discount as appropriate.


  • Brian Walker

    About time for a hike actually…

  • mickfealty


  • Deeman

    How about a cross community rate strike? Dont pay rates across the board until Stormont and Brexit mess is cleared up, who is with me?

  • john millar

    Oh dreadful– accountability is looming A big hike in ” rates” will do wonders for the parties voting bases don`t you think

  • OPB58

    By now you would normally have received your rates demand for 2017-18 but it won’t have arrived. If you usually pay your rates by direct debit over 10 months then continue to set the same amount of money aside from 1st April for when the demands eventually hit your doormat and you have to pay up all arrears that have accrued.. Also put a little extra aside as most councils increased their rates and the N.I. rate will probably increase at least with inflation or more when the Tories have an input.

    Unfortunately, too many innocent bystanders will be affected by political grandstanding.

    This failure to collect will continue until government is restored or the UK government sets the regional rate and ratepayers may be asked to pay their bills in a single payment rather than 10 payments by direct debit.

  • Granni Trixie

    No one. People remember the rent and rates strike in the 70s led by the SDLP which proved to be a disaster. many in social housing spent the money they ought to have saved for when they had to pay and as a consequence were labelled as unreliable tenants who were not permitted to move HE houses should they wish to do so.

  • NotNowJohnny

    It looks like you’re on your own. Let me know how you get on.

  • Deeman

    Lol. Maybe I will just pay it all early to get the small discount 😉

  • Ryan A

    Well overdue.

  • T.E.Lawrence

    It was also quite ironic that it was Austin Currie from the SDLP who was made a minister in the Power Sharing Executive who implemented plans to not only increase the amount of arrears which could be seized every week he also added a charge against the protesters ! That went down like a “Lead Balloon” to the Faithful !

  • Karl

    So the cost of the continuing deadlock is prudent economic practice? Not quite what I got from the headline.

  • Old Mortality

    Does anyone in social housing actually pay rates these days?

  • Croiteir

    Just like the SDLP one that ended up with the betrayal of the people as Half Crown Currie harried them for the non paid rent and rates?