Mid and East Antrim Council strikes new rate
Mid and East Antrim Borough Council has struck business and household rates for the next financial year aimed at boosting economic recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.
At a special meeting this evening (Monday), councillors agreed increases of less than 1% on both business and household rates with Mid and East Antrim thought to be the only council in Northern Ireland to take advantage of the recent legislative changes which allow a different rate for businesses and households, known as decoupling.
This, council stated, has enabled it to strike a household rate of 0.4414, a 0.99% increase from the previous year, and a business rate of 31.1326, a 0.69% increase from the previous year.
The lower increase to business rates in comparison to the household rate rise acknowledges the forthcoming critical year for many of the borough’s businesses, council noted.
The Mayor of Mid and East Antrim, Councillor Peter Johnston said: “While we remain very much in an emergency situation, it is vital we continue as a council to work towards the recovery of our society post-Covid, and doing everything within our power to help our businesses as they begin to reopen, rebuild and ultimately prosper once again.
“With this in mind, we began our rates process back in August, and since then we have been working round the clock to identify savings and efficiencies, and ensure that the impact of rates on our citizens is minimised, while at the same time maximising the resource at our disposal to ensure vital support is available and that we can invest as required in our borough and its infrastructure.
“Over the past year, I am proud we have continued to deliver a string of important capital projects and investment across our borough.”
The rates were proposed by chair of Policy and Resources Committee, Alderman Robin Cherry MBE. He said: “In the year ahead, there will be major investment opportunities for Mid and East Antrim through the development of digital infrastructure and a hydrogen training academy in Ballymena, as well as the regeneration of St Patrick’s Barracks, establishing an innovation centre in the town.
“In the Larne area, there is the planned expansion of The Gobbins and new Sandy Bay pavilion, and in Carrickfergus, there will be the construction of a new household recycling centre at Sullatober, as well as the beginning of the regeneration and renewal of the town centre.”
Vice-Chair of Policy and Resources Committee, Councillor Rodney Quigley, seconded the motion. He said: “This is good news for our borough. I commend the work of all our officers and our elected members for striking what is a fair, balanced and reasonable rate aimed at safeguarding our businesses and local economy and pave the way for recovery and prosperity as we move beyond the nightmare of Covid towards the brighter days that lie ahead.”
Mid and East Antrim’s average domestic rates bill will be £984 per annum (9 pence per week increase from previous year). Based on average capital value, council stated, this places homes in Mid and East Antrim’s rates bill fifth lowest out of the provinces’s 11 local authority districts. Likewise, the average business rates bill will be £12,006 (84 pence per week increase from previous year) in Mid and East Antrim, ranking the borough seventh lowest out of the districts based on average net annual value.
Council’s portion of the rates amounts to 49.1% of the rates bills received by residents and 53.7% of businesses rates bills in Mid and East Antrim, with the remainder of each set by the Stormont Executive.
More than £150million of additional business rates support from the Executive is expected in 2021-22, and Mid and East Antrim Borough Council adds it will continue to access any further grants for roll out to businesses.
Click here to read: Mid and East Antrim ‘needs’ town centre incentive schemes, council hears
Thank you for reading this article. We’re more reliant on your support than ever as the shift in consumer habits brought about by coronavirus impacts our advertisers. Please consider purchasing a copy of the paper. You can also support trusted, fact-checked journalism by taking out a digital subscription of the News Letter.