Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland households to be hit with 4.5% spike in rates bill

Households in Northern Ireland are set to hit with the largest increase on regional rates in more than a decade.

On Thursday Secretary of State Karen Bradley announced the budget for Northern Ireland, set by her office in the absence of a power-sharing Executive.

The domestic regional rate increase of 4.5% breaks with the Executive policy of increasing domestic rates in line with inflation.

"As part of setting a budget, it is essential that the UK Government provides clarity on the regional rate," Mrs Bradley said.

"I consider that this is a necessary and important step to continue to support public services, particularly in health and education."

The non-domestic rates will continue to be tied to inflation (1.5%), and Small Business Rate Relief will remain in place.

Businesses which only operate from one property with a rateable value of less than £15,000 are eligible under this scheme.

There had been fears in the business community the budget announced by Mrs Bradley would bring a steep increase in business rates.

In December, a briefing paper from the Department of Finance outlined three different scenarios for raising revenues to protect Northern Ireland's health and education budgets - with one of these including a 10% increase in business rates.

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph ahead of the budget announcement Head of Retail NI Glyn Roberts, whose organisation represents Northern Ireland's retailers, said there were "grave concerns" a proposed hike in business rates could "cripple" trade.

Thursday's budget saw the release of £410m of the £1bn package negotiated by the DUP as part of the party's confidence-and-supply agreement with the Conservative Government.

Included as part of this is £200m spending on key infrastructure projects; £100m spending on a health service transformation initiative; £80m for immediate health and education pressures; and £30m for mental health and deprivation programmes.

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