Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Anger at British stealth tax proposals

21 July, 2004


Sinn Féin Finance Spokesperson, Mid Ulster MLA Francie Molloy has voiced concerns that the handling of the rates review by British direct rule ministers will result in a new stealth tax with the objective of increasing the overall rates burden. He also said that Sinn Féin had serious concerns about the protection for people on low incomes, and senior citizens and people with disabilities.

Mr Molloy said:

"My greatest concern is that this is not an attempt to deliver a fairer system of raising local revenue through a fairer rates system but that it is a way to force people living in the Six Counties to carry a far greater rates burden. Sinn Féin also has serious concerns about the protection for people on low incomes, and senior citizens and people with disabilities.

"The bottom line is that this is a regressive tax. It is not based on the ability to pay and will disproportionately hit people on lower incomes.

"It is time that political leaders stood up to the British Exchequer and demanded a peace dividend to address the vast legacy of under funding that is undermining all of our key services. The British government has failed for decades to put the money into our public services, our hospitals, railways and infrastructure. They are now looking for us to foot the bill for that failure.

"Sinn Fein has already raised these issues during the review and again in September we will be taking the argument that the British government must deliver a substantial peace dividend, must review the budget allocation and must look at far greater economic sovereignty into those talks.

"Unfortunately previous SDLP finance ministers have led us down this cul-de-sac by allowing the British Exchequer off the hook. In the water tax we have the Durkan tax ands in the local rates we have the Farren tax. The Barnett formula that calculates our block grant gives us a poor deal. Yet, because successive SDLP finance ministers refused to challenge Barnett and instead settled for the dubious benefits of borrowing under the Reform and

Reinvestment Initiative that has to be financed by raising more money through the rates and through the imposition of the water tax the British Exchequer was allowed to avoid its obligations." ENDS

Connect with Sinn Féin