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Rates in Belfast are to increase by almost 2% following a decision at last night's council meeting

Rates in Belfast are to increase by almost 2% following a decision at last night's council meeting

Alex Dodd

Rates in Belfast are to increase by almost 2% following a decision at last night's council meeting

Rates in Belfast are to increase by almost 2% following a decision at last night's council meeting.

The 1.98% hike will equate to an extra 62 pence per month on average for domestic ratepayers.

Offices and retail rates will rise by an average of £11.51 a month, around £138 a year.

A council statement said the increase was lower than inflation and was achieved by ongoing efficiencies of £30m.

But the rise has been criticised by the Alliance Party, which favoured setting a rate of 1.67%.

Alliance councillor Nuala McAllister said "unnecessarily" spending £500,000 on festivals to reduce tensions around bonfires had contributed to the increase.

"Alliance has been strong in our condemnation of a plan that, simply put, will improve the life of some in our city at the expense of others," she said.

"We are extremely disappointed that this rate has gone ahead unaltered, especially as we consistently proposed a more realistic rate of 1.67%, and we will be watching to see just how well this additional money is spent and if it really can make a difference later this year."

She accused Sinn Fein and the DUP of unfairly prioritising their own agendas.

UUP councillor Peter Johnston, who chairs the strategic policy and resources committee, defended the decision: "We have worked hard to drive efficiencies across council to ensure that any increase in the rates is kept to a minimum, and the fact that we are keeping the increase below 2% for the second consecutive year reflects that commitment."

Belfast Telegraph