Alliance plans to solve rates issue: Long [Community Telegraph]

The rates debate is an interesting one, and is one in which Alliance is focused on providing a solution to the crisis while other parties will do nothing on the issue except play the blame game.

Alliance is calling for the rates system to be scrapped and replaced with a local income tax which would be much fairer for everyone.

Alliance is focused on providing a viable, fair and affordable solution to paying for local services.

Any tax based on property values will punish the elderly, those on low and middle incomes and those who live alone.

Tinkering with how we value the properties won’t get away from that. The only way to ensure any scheme is fair and affordable is to link it to people’s income today, not their income when they bought their house decades ago.

We have been consistent, from the early 1970s that rates must be abolished. Our proposals of a local income tax would ensure that those who are most vulnerable in society are protected not just from rates hikes, but from the other proposed charges based on the rates system, such as the water tax.

No-one likes to pay taxes, but everyone acknowledges that we have to pay for public services. People must be reassured that these taxes are fair, affordable and most importantly, are efficiently spent.

Waste in public spending is an important issue which Alliance also wants to tackle head-on. Currently the costs of maintaining sectarian divisions are at least £1 billion per year.

When people get their bills, they need to ask ‘are they content to keep paying this massive sum, or do they want to see their money better spent?’

Councillor Naomi Long MLA (Alliance East Belfast)

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