This week, home owners and businesses throughout the Fermanagh and Omagh District Council area will receive their rate bill for 2016-2017.
Land & Property Services (LPS) - part of the Department of Finance and Personnel - is responsible for issuing rate bills and collecting monies on behalf of the NI Executive and local councils. The bill outlines the amount due for the billing period 2016-17 and includes any unpaid arrears from previous years, along with any rate relief where applicable.
If there is any information on your bill which you think is incorrect, your circumstances have changed, or you have not received a bill, please contact LPS immediately on 0300 200 7801.
Highlighting the importance of paying rates, an LPS spokesperson said: “As of 31 March 2015, there were 54,000 rateable properties across the Fermanagh and Omagh District Council area. This money is vital for our local economy, as it is invested in public services such as healthcare, education and roads as well as helping to fund numerous council services, including recreational facilities, building control, bin collection, tourism and local events.
“The easiest and most convenient way to pay is by Direct Debit. Currently 55% of ratepayers in Northern Ireland pay their bills this way, spreading the cost of the bill over a 10 month period and helping to ease any financial pressure. A choice of three collection dates is available for Direct Debit – 7th, 15th or 28th of each month.
“As in previous years, there are a number of other ways to pay, including online via the nidirect website, at any Post Office or PayPoint outlet using the ‘Rates Quick Pay Card,’ by phone or in person at an LPS Customer Information Centre.”
For domestic ratepayers, there is a 4% discount if they pay their bill in full on or before the discount date of 6 May 2016. In April last year, online and telephone payments increased by 87% as ratepayers took advantage of these faster and easier to use services to receive their discount.
The spokesperson continued: “If you are having trouble paying your rates, contact LPS immediately. Last year LPS made 65,860 payment arrangements with ratepayers to help them manage their rating debt.”
The Chairman of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, Councillor Thomas O’Reilly commented: “Less than half of the rates bill is directed to the Council to pay for the broad and challenging portfolio of functions and services it provides. I recognise the financial burden of the rates bill on ratepayers but I can assure them that Council finances are managed in a careful and considered manner and are subjected to stringent levels of financial scrutiny and audit. “
Councillor O’Reilly continued: “Some of the major capital projects that the Council will progress in the coming year include the completion of The Heritage Gateway Project at Enniskillen Castle, incorporating the new Fermanagh County Museum and Visitor Information Centre in the early summer, a significant refurbishment of the Ardhowen Theatre. Subject to confirmation of funding, the development of the Gortin Glen as a recreation and tourist amenity will continue and the Council will also invest in play areas, outdoor sports and recreation facilities and Council leisure centres across the district.”
The District Rate Subsidy scheme continues to apply to domestic and non-domestic ratepayers whose rates increased significantly with the merger of some councils in April 2015. If a ratepayer is eligible for the subsidy, the reduction will automatically be applied.
Bills this year will now include a breakdown of any debt owed by year and a new zero balance statement has also been introduced. This will be sent to ratepayers who are in receipt of an exemption or exclusion and would not previously have been sent a bill.
Further information and guidance on rates and the online payment facility is available on the nidirect website or for non-domestic customers, on the NIBusinessInfo website . Alternatively, ratepayers can speak to LPS staff in person by visiting one of the LPS Customer Information Centres in Belfast, Ballymena, Omagh, Craigavon and Londonderry.
Notes to editors:
Media enquiries only to DFP Communications Office on 028 9081 6724 or 028 9081 6725. Out of office hours please contact the Duty Press Officer via pager number 07699 715 440 and your call will be returned