Sinn Féin - On Your Side

50% of people entitled to rates relief missing out

20 November, 2007

Sinn Fein West Belfast MLA Jennifer McCann speaking after the publication of the Assembly Finance & Personnel Committee response to the 2007 Executive Review of the Domestic Rating System has expressed concern that 50% of those entitled to help with their rates are missing out.

Ms McCann said:

"There are elements within the Committees response that our Party disagreed with and where no consensus was reached.

"Sinn Fein believe a person's ability to pay should be the central focus of any Domestic Rating System as those who are most disadvantaged in society will continue to be penalised by a rates system which is based on capital value.

"Previous experience shows us that up to 50% of those people who are entitled to apply for rates relief don't do so because of the bureaucracy and red tape surrounding the application process.

"I would appeal to the Executive to ensure that a targeted and proactive campaign is launched to ensure that those people who are eligible for rates relief are given every opportunity to avail of that relief.

"The application process should be made more transparent and simplistic.

"During the committee's debate on the issue of Domestic Rates our Party also supported the proposal that the Executive should have the option of tax varying powers. This form of Fiscal Freedom would be an essential component towards developing a radical plan of action to tackle deprivation and ensure long term economic development.

"This is essential to areas like West Belfast where we need to make a difference to the lives of the local people, who have been victims of disadvantage and discrimination for years." ENDS

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