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British approach to Rates debate causing serious concern

8 September, 2004

Commenting on the ongoing debate about the future of the rating system, Sinn Féin spokesperson on Housing issues Fra McCann MLA has said that he has 'no confidence that the British government will build in necessary safeguards to protect the vulnerable and less well off in its future plans for the rates'.

Cllr. McCann said:

" Sinn Féin are very unhappy at the approach which the British Direct Rule Minister Ian Pearson has adopted to the issue of changing the rates system. It is decades of British neglect and under funding which has left our infrastructure in such need of capital investment. There has so far been no recognition of this from Ian Pearson or the British Treasury.

" The taxation proposals tabled so far by Ian Pearson are regressive and will undoubtedly penalise the less well off and vulnerable. There is particular concern for the plight of elderly people. I have no confidence that the British government will build in the necessary safeguards in their final proposals to protect these groups.

" Sinn Féin will continue to meet with a wide cross section of groups and individuals interested in seeing the British government move these proposals onto a more progressive general taxation system. The fixation with increasing household rates and introducing additional water charges is not the way to tackle our undoubted infrastructure problems." ENDS

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