Northern Ireland news

Belfast residents facing district rates increase of almost 8%

Councillors agreed the rates rise at Belfast City Hall (Brian Lawless/PA)
Jonathan McCambridge, PA

Belfast City Council has agreed an increase in the district rate of almost 8%.

Emmett McDonough-Brown, chair of the council's Strategic Policy and Resources Committee, said the increase of 7.99% agreed on Wednesday evening was a reflection of the current economic circumstances.

The rates rise means an average monthly increase of £2.05 for a terraced property, £3.13 for a three-bed semi-detached property, £6.97 for a four-bed detached property, £1.98 for an apartment, £51.44 for an office property and £42.14 for a retail property.

Mr McDonough-Brown said: “For seven years we were able to keep the rates increase below 3% which was a significant achievement; but none of us, including council, is exempt from the impact of the cost-of-living crisis and the rising costs of energy and services.

“And while we are unfortunately seeing an increase in rates this year, I am pleased that we have been able to keep it below the current rate of inflation; parties have worked hard to keep the rise as low as possible while continuing to invest in our services.

“We will be enhancing our neighbourhood and city centre taskforces, recruiting a number of new staff to tackle issues like dog fouling, graffiti, and city centre cleanliness.”

Sinn Fein councillor Ciaran Beattie said: “The DUP's refusal to form an Executive has left local councils with much reduced government support for rates and left public services at the mercy of savage Tory budget cuts from London.

“Belfast City Council, like all local authorities here, is facing significant financial pressures because of years of Tory austerity cuts, Brexit, soaring energy costs and the cost-of-living crisis.

“Our priority has been to maintain and deliver fair pay rises for council workers, protect jobs and ensure that economic investment and work to transform and regenerate Belfast can continue.”

People Before Profit councillor Fiona Ferguson said her party grouping opposed the rates rise.

She said: “The cost-of-living crisis is far from over. Many thousands of people in Belfast are struggling with the price of bills, striking for basic pay offers, turning to food banks. In these circumstances, it is totally unjustifiable to punish people further by hiking the rates.

“This rates hike was completely avoidable.

“We knew the cost of inflation was coming yet the Stormont Executive and the Tories failed to bail out councils, long before the institutions collapsed.”