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Alliance calls for actions over rates fears

Alliance Communities spokesperson Kellie Armstrong MLA and all Alliance Councillors have called for both the Department of the Economy and Communities to act now to avoid massive rate hikes being imposed across Northern Ireland next year.

Kellie said a robust rates forecasting model must now be put in place after Solace, a collection of the Council Chief Executives across NI, a revealed it feared a 20% to 30% rates rise was on the horizon.

Kellie said: “We might be starting to emerge from strict lockdown restrictions, but the effects of Covid-19 will be felt for many years to come. That’s why we must do all we can to protect ratepayers going forward. A huge hike in rates is the last local businesses and homeowners need in this midst of an economic crisis.

“We need a way to predict how rates are going to be calculated, allowing councils to prepare and plan for the years ahead. Otherwise we face years of hardship as our long-term economic recovery is not going to happen overnight.

“Councils across Northern Ireland have done a fantastic job of keeping services going in tough circumstances and they must be commended for that. Helping to distribute food parcels to hundreds of families made sure those shielding were directly supported through the pandemic.

“Going forward we must ensure core council services such as waste collection and cemeteries continue to be provided and ensure leisure centres and help for the Arts, Sports and community life is supported.

“It is vital Stormont departments work in partnership with councils to develop a long term solution to invest in local services without placing the entire burden on ratepayers."