Alliance demands scrapping of proposed rates system

Former Lord Mayor of Belfast, Tom Ekin, has called for the complete scrapping of the Government proposed rating system for Northern Ireland, and for it to be replaced by a local income tax. Tom Ekin and Alliance Laganbank Representative, Allan Leonard, spoke at tonight’s South Belfast residents meeting on rates at City Church.

The Balmoral Alliance Party Councillor, Tom Ekin said: “The decisions which created the current rates crisis were not taken by the direct-rule ministers, but by the four parties which formed the last Executive. It was other local parties that set this process in train, Direct Rule Ministers are merely implementing their ludicrous decisions.

“The proposed rating scheme is unjust. Property value-based rating systems are a regressive form of taxation. Income-based tax is more fair and equitable. There is an appreciation by the public that a system based on ability to pay is more fair and transparent, than the arbitrary value of property.

“Given that the Inland Revenue are aware of the home address of all tax payers, it should be relatively easy for the Northern Ireland Assembly or District Councils to inform them of the top-up levels that they require, and for Inland Revenue to allocate and collect the required funds based on the postcode of the taxpayer. The PAYE system could be used.

“Such a system would be simpler than assessing the property values. It would also make it easier to implement relief to help social groups, such as older people and those receiving benefits.”

Meanwhile, Allan Leonard, has stated that the greatest savings could be made by reducing the £1 billion wasted every year on segregated services in Northern Ireland: “Sectarianism costs Northern Ireland’s taxpayers vast sums of money, not only in dealing with its violent manifestations, but in everyday life. The ‘separate but equal’ mindset requires duplicate facilities in our education, health and social services. This wastes money that could be used to improve the quality of services for everyone.”


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