Former Lord Mayor of Belfast, Tom Ekin, has called for the complete
scrapping of the Government proposed rating system for Northern
Ireland, and for it to be replaced by a local income tax. Tom Ekin and
Alliance Laganbank Representative, Allan Leonard, spoke at tonight’s
South Belfast residents meeting on rates at City Church.
Balmoral Alliance Party Councillor, Tom Ekin said: “The decisions which
created the current rates crisis were not taken by the direct-rule
ministers, but by the four parties which formed the last Executive. It
was other local parties that set this process in train, Direct Rule
Ministers are merely implementing their ludicrous decisions.
“The proposed rating scheme is unjust. Property value-based rating
systems are a regressive form of taxation. Income-based tax is more
fair and equitable. There is an appreciation by the public that a
system based on ability to pay is more fair and transparent, than the
arbitrary value of property.
“Given that the Inland Revenue are aware of the home address of all
tax payers, it should be relatively easy for the Northern Ireland
Assembly or District Councils to inform them of the top-up levels that
they require, and for Inland Revenue to allocate and collect the
required funds based on the postcode of the taxpayer. The PAYE system
could be used.
“Such a system would be simpler than assessing the property values.
It would also make it easier to implement relief to help social groups,
such as older people and those receiving benefits.”
Meanwhile, Allan Leonard, has stated that the greatest savings could
be made by reducing the £1 billion wasted every year on segregated
services in Northern Ireland: “Sectarianism costs Northern Ireland’s
taxpayers vast sums of money, not only in dealing with its violent
manifestations, but in everyday life. The ‘separate but equal’ mindset
requires duplicate facilities in our education, health and social
services. This wastes money that could be used to improve the quality
of services for everyone.”