Alliance MLA Kieran McCarthy has said that Government plans to steamroller a Northern Ireland ‘tap tax’ through Westminster are ‘crazy’. Mr McCarthy was speaking ahead of a meeting with Finance Minister Ian Pearson today. Mr Pearson was expected to unveil plans to review Northern Ireland’s rating policy this morning.
Mr McCarthy said: “Although we already pay for our water through the rates, the Government seems totally prepared to steamroller its own plans through – plans that will likely leave the public wondering if their money is being poured down the drain.
“A new tax based on house value is far from fair, yet the Government seems determined to go down that path while trying to avoid debate on the more open and accountable system of water metering.
“Imagine the outcry if your electricity bill was based on the value of your house rather than how much power you used. The Government says metering is expensive, but that is ignoring the conservation aspect, as ministers are not taking long-term savings into account resulting from a reduction in unnecessary use.
“Having said that, over 30 percent of waste is through leakage in a poorly maintained water system suffering from years of under-investment.”
Mr McCarthy said Government comparisons between rates paid here and charges in England and Wales were ‘dishonest’.
“Income in Northern Ireland is lower than in Great Britain, and people here spend more of it on necessities rather than luxuries.
“At the end of the day, all the Government is doing is tinkering with the rating system when what we need is a new, fairer system of local income tax. The sooner we get back to local ministers making local decisions the better.”