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Property based rates system will unfairly hit nationalists

22 July, 2004

Sinn Féin Housing Spokesperson, West Belfast MLA Fra McCann has called for a wide-ranging survey of differences between Catholic and Protestant housing conditions and called for a rating system based on the ability to pay and not property values.

Mr McCann said:

"Pressure for housing within nationalist areas is far greater, in comparison, to the demand for housing with unionist areas. A quick comparison of the waiting lists for Housing Executive property within North Belfast for example highlights the fact that the overwhelming majority of A1 status applicants on the waiting list are Catholic. This is predominantly because of the huge demand.

"This is also reflected in house prices in comparable nationalist areas. My great fear is that because demand for housing in nationalists areas in far greater than in unionist areas that this is reflected in higher property values that will then result in higher rates under a property based system. Any such system will discriminate against Catholics and particularly in areas where unionist dominated councils continue to operate policies of exclusion and discrimination will hit nationalists with a double whammy. They will be paying higher rates for poorer services.

"Sinn Féin believe that the rates proposals are a regressive form of taxation as they are not based on the ability of someone to pay. I believe that we need a wide-ranging survey of the differences between Catholic and Protestant housing conditions and house values in particular." ENDS

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