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Rates bills on the way

Interest rates_69717514
RATES bills are on the way for local householders and businesses after emergency legislation was rushed through Westminster this week.

The Northern Ireland (Ministerial Appointments and Regional Rates) Bill 2016-17 passed through the House of Commons and Monday and made its way through the House of Lords yesterday (Wednesday).

The bill allows NIO ministers to set a regional rate for the North, enabling household bills to be issued in their usual cycle of ten monthly payments.

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Northern Ireland Secretary of State James Brokenshire indicated last week that the regional rate would be increased in line with inflation, or 1.6 per-cent according to the explanatory notes distributed with the legislation.

In practice, the fast-tracked bill sets a regional rate of 0.4177 pence for householders and 32.92 pence for non-domestic rate payers.

However, the legislation states that the Department of Finance can vary that rate should the institutions get back up and running.

Derry and Strabane Council struck a 2.76 per-cent increase in rates for local homes and businesses in February.

Neighbouring Fermanagh and Omagh District Council increased its rates by  2.95 per-cent.

But the lack of a regional rate due to the collapse of the Assembly meant rates bills could not be calculated and distributed in their usual fashion.

The expected passage of the emergency rates bill last night means work can begin immediately to calculate and distribute rates bills for 2017-18.
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