Council heralds new era by Striking First Rate

February 16, 2015

Another historic milestone passed on Thursday last when the Newry Mourne and Down District Council struck its rate for the first time to meet the cost of services it will provide for the year 1 April 2015 to 31 March 2016. These include leisure and recreational services, economic development and environmental services as well as new services transferring from central government.

Due to the convergence of the legacy Councils of Down District Council, Newry and Mourne District Council and an electoral ward of Banbridge District Council (Ballyward), the rate set is not straightforward and will differ according to legacy Council areas.

The overall rates increase reflects current central government spending cuts and the unexpected financial constraints Councils are facing due to 15% reduction in many funding streams.

This has had an impact on the amount of some of the monies which central government will be providing to Councils. Councils have also raised concerns regarding the funding provided  towards the costs of functions moving from central government to local government, i.e.(Planning, Off Street Parking, etc)

Domestic Rates

On a comparative basis for the two combined Councils District Rates the Domestic Rate for 2015/2016 will be 0.3528 pence (2014/2015 equivalent 0.3372 pence) which is an increase for the combined Council District Rate of 4.62%.  The Regional Rate (set by NI Assembly) is indicated at a figure of 0.4042 pence (0.3987 pence 2014/15).

When the District Rate and Regional Rate are added together on a comparison basis of the two combined Councils, the rate of a property valued at £100,000 will be £757 for 2015/2016 (£736 for 2014/2015) representing an overall increase of 2.87%.

The outworking of this is that the rates increase/decrease for those living in the legacy Council areas on a £100,000 property value will be as follows:

● Ballyward (previously Banbridge District) a decrease in rates payable of £18. (Rate Bill 2015/16 of £757).

● The Legacy Down District an increase on rates payable of £7. (Rate Bill 2015/16 of £757).

● The Legacy Newry and Mourne District an increase on rates payable of £27. (Rate Bill 2015/16 of £755). (There is a small amount of transition relief from the D.o.E. included in this figure).

Non Domestic Rate

Due to the revaluation of these properties it is not possible to do a like for like comparison on prior year’s figures.

The Non Domestic District Rate for 2015/2016 will be 21.9679 pence (2014/2015, 25.0943 pence)

The Non Domestic Regional Rate indicated for 2015/2016 will be 31.860 pence (2014/2015, 33.9100 pence)

However it should be acknowledged that property values have changed due to revaluation of Non Domestic Property which will apply from 2015/16.

The Designate Presiding Officer, Councillor Charlie Casey, recognised the challenges of striking the new rate with the reduction of almost half a million pounds from the DoE Rates Support Grant and thanked his fellow Councillors and Senior Management for their co-operation in achieving a realistic rate for 2015/16.

Mr Liam Hannway, Chief Executive Designate said the new Council would concentrate on providing strong civic leadership and delivering on the strategic priorities within the new Corporate Plan 2015-2019.

“The next year will be very challenging as we deal with the integration of transferring functions and new powers such as community planning when we will work in partnership with other key players to deliver improved outcomes for local people and communities within the District,” added Mr Hannaway.

Over the next year the Council will deliver a substantial programme of capital developments throughout the Newry Mourne and Down District to the value of £9.3 million.  These include a number of schemes such as Phase 2 of Newry Leisure Centre, Down Leisure Centre, Saintfield Community Hall, Repairs to Camlough Lake, Newry Town Hall Upgrade, Downpatrick Recycling Centre and Drumnakelly Transfer Station.

The Corporate Plan and budget also sets out indicative projects for the remainder of the Council Term – eg Newcastle Gateway Centre/Newry Civic Centre.