New rates bills go out this week

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Home owners and businesses throughout the new Mid and East Antrim Borough Council area will receive their rate bill for 2015/16 this week.

Your bill will show the amount due for the new billing period 2015/16, including any debt that may have been carried forward from previous years, along with any rate relief where applicable. The Department of Finance and Personnel’s Land & Property Services (LPS), issue rate bills and collect monies on behalf of the NI Executive and local councils.

From this year, for the first time, each domestic ratepayer in Northern Ireland will receive a personalised annual rates statement with their bill. This will give each household an indicative breakdown of what their rates are used for, for example, how much is spent on health, on education, on roads and other vital public services.

The Non-domestic Revaluation has been completed and bills for businesses have been calculated using the new rateable values. The rateable value is an estimate of the annual rental value of the property, as at April 2013.

A District Rate Subsidy has been introduced for those ratepayers most affected by significant rises in their rate bill that are a direct result of the councils merging. The subsidy, which will be phased out over four years, applies to domestic and non-domestic ratepayers. If you are eligible, the reduction will be shown on page two of your rate bill as a District Rate Subsidy. The amount of District Rate Subsidy awarded will be shown in the Exemptions/ Reliefs/ Allowances section.

If there is any information on the bill which is incorrect, or your circumstances have changed, you should contact LPS immediately on 0300 200 7801.

An LPS spokesperson said: “There are around 60,000 ratepayers in the new Mid and East Antrim Borough Council area and through the payment of their rates they help to fund the provision of a number of vital public services. This includes healthcare, education and roads as well as helping to fund a wide range of Council services and facilities, ranging from building control and bin control to tourism and local events.”

Commenting on the rates letters, the Mayor of Mid and East Antrim Borough Council, Councillor Billy Ashe, said: “In recognition of the economic climate, Councillors and Officers have worked hard over the last number of months to deliver this rate. Elected Members believe that striking a rate below the rate of inflation will allow for the economic growth and well-being of Mid and East Antrim as set out in the 2015-19 Corporate Plan. This growth is in terms of improved infrastructure, increased capital investment, more jobs, improved skills base, increased tourists and the improved health and wellbeing of our citizens. Building a strong and vibrant economy is a key priority for Mid and East Antrim Borough Council. I feel that the approach adopted represents a sensible balance between keeping the rate as low as possible, whilst still providing a broad range of services to the public and ensuring the development and investment in our facilities and services to provide for future growth of the borough.”

The Deputy Mayor, Councillor Timothy Gaston, said: “The striking of the rate is just the beginning and I look forward to the year ahead when we will work to deliver efficient services and grow our economy to benefit the people of Mid and East Antrim.”

Speaking about the payment of rate bills, an LPS spokesperson said: “The easiest and most convenient method of payment is by Direct Debit. Around 55% of ratepayers currently avail of this service as it enables them to spread the cost of the rate bill over 10 months and helps to ease any financial pressure. There is a choice of three collection dates for Direct Debit – 7th, 15th or 28th of each month. Online and telephone payment facilities are also increasing in popularity.

“There is a wide range of other payment methods available such as: standing order, cheque, or by using the ‘Rates QuickPay Card’. This is accepted in any Post Office and across the PayPoint network.”

“There are a number of LPS offices across Northern Ireland and our staff are always available to help should anyone need to speak to them about their rate bill, or if they are in need of assistance with paying their bill.”

The spokesperson continued: “For domestic ratepayers who pay their bill in full, a discount of 4% is available if LPS receives payment on or before the discount date of 1 May 2015. Ratepayers must allow a minimum of five working days for payment to reach LPS. ”

Further information and guidance on rates is available at http://www.nidirect.gov.uk/rates or for non-domestic customers, at http://www.nibusinessinfo.co.uk/rates.