Speaking after her interview on Talkback on BBC Radio Ulster today, Naomi Long MLA said: “Other parties play the blame game, and bash direct rule ministers, despite the fact that the four parties which made up the Stormont Executive actually started this capital values reform during the last Assembly. 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 1970’s that rates must be abolished – we said it to the Government then, we said it to the Executive and voted against their draft Programme for Government in the last Assembly because it was in there, we said it in our manifestos, and we will continue to argue that a local income tax must be introduced to replace the rating system.
“Our proposals 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.”