Unanimous vote for 0% district rate increase

Causeway Coast and Glens District Council has struck a 0% rate increase.

The figure - the second consecutive freeze - was agreed by councillors on Thursday evening.

However, rate-payers will still see a rise in their bills when the Regional Rate, which is outside council control, is factored in.

Prior to the February 15 deadline for striking a rate, the local authority’s budgetary position has to be assessed, taking into account any financial pressures, funding changes or potential savings that will all have an effect of the eventual figure.

In the autumn the opening position for the 2017/18 rates estimates was a cost pressure of approximately 2.5% in terms of a rate increase. Further refining work was carried out in the new year with officers identifying savings/additional income just under £900k.

The vote gained unanimous support from all elected members and afterwards DUP Alderman John Finlay, who proposed the zero change, said: “The merging of four councils and the planning function into one organisation since 2014/15 has been challenging, and the efficiencies we would have like to have seen as a result of the amalgamations are slow in coming.

“However, holding the district rate at zero for another year has enabled businesses and households alike to plan budgets with relative certainty over the last few years.

“The DUP party group has argued for a long-term rates plan which will enable that stability to continue whilst council continues to invest in schemes that matter most to people.”

UUP Councillor Darryl Wilson said: “I am pleased that the council were able to deliver a 0% rate increase for the coming year, however council efficiency has minimal impact when our central government in Stormont are squandering millions hand over fist while local domestic and business ratepayers struggle to make ends meet.”

The Regional Rate, which is set by the Stormont Executive, increased by 1.7% last year and is expected to rise by a further inflationary amount from April 1