Finance Minister Simon Hamilton MLA has published details of the subsidy for ratepayers in the new Derry and Strabane District Council who were facing increased rate bills because of the amalgamation of council areas and redrawing of boundaries.
The subsidy will be automatically applied to rate bills for around 15,000 ratepayers in the former Strabane District Council area who are affected by the amalgamation with a typical award for domestic ratepayers of around £20. It will address only the increase in rate bills which is a direct result of the creation of the new larger council.
The scheme will provide an 80 per cent subsidy next year to reduce the district rate element of the bill in those areas that would have increased as a result of the convergence of council areas, in other words, the regrouping of ratepayers within the new structure. This subsidy will be phased out in stages over the next four years. It will have no bearing on the financing of the new council who will still act independently next month in setting the district rate to cover their spending plans for next year.
The Minister said: “Differences have built up in the level of district rates chargeable by the old council and those that will be chargeable under the new larger council. As this could result in significant increases for ratepayers in some areas over the next few years, the Executive has committed up to £30m to help ratepayers who have been affected. The importance of this measure is reflected in the Executive’s budget for 2015-16.”
The scheme will apply to domestic and non-domestic ratepayers in certain areas and the only exceptions are public bodies and social housing landlords where the rates are already standardised.