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Pensioners to defer rate bills until after death

Pensioners will be able to defer rate bills until they die or sell their properties under new legislation outlined yesterday by the Stormont Finance Minister.

Those who are struggling to meet mounting household bills in retirement will benefit most, Sammy Wilson added. A reduced rate of interest will be charged.

MLAs approved the law, which comes into effect next month.

Mr Wilson said: “Deferment is not a new relief or allowance and importantly does not represent free money.”

Previous consultation was broadly supportive of the introduction of the rates scheme. Stormont's Finance and Personnel Committee said even if only a small number of pensioners were to benefit, the choice of deferment should be made available.

The minister added: “Given the long-term commitment involved, it is important that pensioners are made fully aware of all the facts beforehand to allow them to make informed choices.”

Councils will be paid the district rates in the normal way and will not bear the direct costs in loss of immediate revenue.The only impact will be a small extra amount for collection cost and also if any of the debt has to be written off in the future.

For more information on rates payment choices for pensioners visit NiDirect

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