There is confusion in the public mind between District Rates which elected councillors vote for, and Regional rates which have been imposed by Civil Servants, who are unelected, unknown, and unimaginative. The district rate, approved by elected councillors in Belfast, is less than half the total rates bill received by you. The rate of annual increase in the Regional Rate ,the one you cant vote for, is considerably higher than the rate of increase in district Rate, which is the one you can vote for.
I used the word unimaginative about the imposers of the Regional Rate. Does it take much imagination to set up a 10 or 20 year programme to fix up the infrastructure which the Victorians built and which we Elizabethans have managed to run down.
The sewers,water supply, schools, healthcare, transportation, all need major attention. Why??
The existing system, and its operators, has let us down.
Only by taking responsibility can things improve, or can we stop wasteage,or can we achieve meaningful goals.
But we dont take responsibility for our affairs, so we have endless consultations, plaintiff bleats for judicial enquiries, legal reviews,other enquiries in to the different shades of darkness .This is the excuse for bureaucratic constipation.
We waste money, opportunities, and we waste good people who get fed up with this paralysis.
By taking responsibility we will know the costs of things, the costs of delays, the costs and benefits of these consultation exercises. ( In reply to my recent question, Has a consultation ever produced any outcome or idea which had not already been thought of, the answer was a clear NO )
Ideally, with taking responsibility we will get quicker action and more responsible debate or the real merits of the cases, and also a more mature response to decisions with which we might disagree.( Hospitals Jubilee Maternity, Omagh vs Enniskillen, Belvoir Vs City Cancer unit).
What is a fair way of collecting the funds for repairing the damage caused by years of neglect, and ducking the hard decisions?
The Poll tax was Arguably reasonably fair, but failed.
Rates on Capital values of property, is on occasions, very unfair. For example big house occupied by an old widow pensioner
or the reverse, small house occupied by millionaire with 5 kids. ( no relationship to ability to Pay)
The simplest system for financing Northern Ireland is to use the existing structures of the tried and proven income tax regime, which takes account of many of the inequities that might arise.
It also gives the Executive the responsibility of agreeing and selling a Programme for Government, and it gives the Assembly the job of scrutinising finances and programmes, ensuring that funding is found, and holding to account those Ministers and departments that do not deliver good value on time.
It’s time we grew up and took real responsibility, and started to make Northern Ireland a more dynamic, successful, well-run and peaceful place – and a step towards achieving this is to take on the real responsibility of raising taxes locally.