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Historic move as Belfast City Council freezes district rate for second year in a row

Belfast City Council has agreed to freeze the district rate for a historic second consecutive year.

This will be the last time the council in its current form will set the rate for the city ahead of major local government reform set to come in this May when parts of Lisburn and Castlereagh will join Belfast.

It is the first time in the council's 41-year history that there has been no increase in the rate for two years in a row.

The domestic rate, set by local councils across Northern Ireland, forms around half of the overall rates bill which residents receive.

The rest of it is set by Stormont, known as the regional rate.

Chairman of Belfast City Council's strategic policy and resources committee Gavin Robinson said he was delighted that the last rate set is making history.

"We are fully aware that many of our businesses and citizens continue to face difficult economic times and uncertainty and the rates freeze is an indication of our willingness to provide support and help," he said.

Councillor Robinson said: "A zero increase is effectively a 2% cut in real terms when inflation is considered and when taken with last year's rates freeze, when inflation was 2.7%, amounts to almost a 5% reduction in the district rate during the past two years.

"It is vital that the council gets the balance right between not overburdening our ratepayers and ensuring we can still invest in the city to support the recovery."

Mr Robinson added: "The main reason we have been able to achieve the rates freeze is due to our efficiency programme that has now realised £18m of savings over seven years."

Belfast Telegraph