This week, home owners and businesses throughout the Mid Ulster 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 59,000 rateable properties across the Mid Ulster 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.”
Chair of Mid Ulster District Council, Councillor Linda Dillon, said: “The financial pressures which the public sector faces as a whole have been well-documented and local government is no different.
“In setting the rate for this year, the Council faced substantial increases in costs, such as waste disposal and the loss of rebate on national insurance, amounting to some £2.8million of additional monies which we had to find simply to stand still.
“And we don’t wish to stand still. We want to see our district grow and develop and so, this year, we sought additional funding in several areas to allow us to continue to provide capital grants for sports clubs; to address a gap in arts-related funding; and to ensure that we are resourced to support our regional minority language policies.”
Councillor Dillon emphasised that the money paid through rates funds both central and local services. She added: “There is a common misperception that the rates our residents and businesses pay all come to the council, whereas in reality for Mid Ulster ratepayers, approximately 55% goes towards funding public services through government departments and the remaining 45% to the council to fund the services and facilities which are provided locally.”
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:
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