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Transformation of Council & planned efficiencies enable MEA to mitigate impact of rates

Expansive efficiencies and continued transformation to address the well documented Council challenges has enabled Mid and East Antrim Borough Council to agree a district rate aimed at minimising financial pressures on householders and businesses while protecting vital frontline services.

The district rate – which is set by Council, funds a wide range of public services, including waste, leisure services, business support, parks and regeneration – has been set at 5.43% for households, meaning an average weekly rise of 53p, or £27.35 per year, from 1 April 2023.

The figure agreed by Elected Members at a special council meeting on Monday evening is almost half of the current rate of inflation across the United Kingdom (10.50%) and among the lowest of any announced by Northern Ireland councils - but will still provide the local Council with the necessary funds for planned major investment in the Borough and a continuation of the frontline services it provides to ratepayers.

Due to the global cost of living crisis – which has seen UK interest rates rise to a 40-year high – the Council faces soaring costs across the organisation, which resulted in a projected budgetary shortfall in excess of £10m during the next financial year.

Uncertainty over central/regional government funding received by the Council through the Rates Support Grant also heavily impacted on local government financial planning, as did the agreement and implementation of national pay awards in recent months.

Rates bill rises for businesses have been capped at 5.90%, which equates to a weekly increased cost of £7.45 or £387 per year on the average value of business premises.

Elected Members have worked closely with Council’s senior management to identify savings and efficiencies throughout the organisation as part of Mid and East Antrim’s continued transformation. This work, and the actions and changes it is already delivering, enabled the Council to minimise the scale of the rates increase for 2023/2024.

Some of the approaches to efficiencies and cost savings in the year ahead include:

• Reviewing energy usage throughout the organisation

• Continued digitisation of services

• Maximising value for money through procurement processes and increasing our income through charges.

• Reviewing use of Council’s buildings and their opening hours, including leisure and waste service estate.

• Levels of funding for major international events

While considerations of the decisions taken have been very challenging, the Council said they were vital to keeping rates increases during 2023/2024 to the lowest level possible.

Council remains committed to growing the local economy by investing in ambitious and innovative projects to drive and sustain the future of the area.

Crucial to that work is Belfast Region City Deal, which is delivering £80m investment through the redevelopment of Carrickfergus as a destination town, the extension of The Gobbins as a world-class tourist attraction, and the creation of an i4C Innovation Centre in Ballymena.

Plans are continuing for the redevelopment of Carnfunnock Country Park after it was recently awarded £6.1 million from the UK Government’s Levelling Up Fund, which Council will also be supporting financially.

Mayor of Mid and East Antrim, Alderman Noel Williams, said:

“The rates-setting process for the next financial year has been the most difficult to navigate since Council was established as we strive to ensure best value for our ratepayers in the face of a cost of living crisis.

“Councillors have worked with Council officers for months to identify savings and efficiencies and strike the lowest rate we possibly can for ratepayers while supporting our local community and continuing to deliver key services.

“We are acutely aware of the struggles many people are facing and remain focused on doing everything within our power to help our businesses and communities to survive, prosper and grow.”

The average domestic rates bill will be £531.84 per annum. Based on average capital value, this places the rates bills of homes in Mid and East Antrim among the lowest of Northern Ireland’s 11 council areas.

Council’s portion of rates amounts to 50% of the rates bills received by residents rates bills in Mid and East Antrim, with the remainder of each set by The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland in the absence of the Stormont Executive, and which funds public services including health, justice and policing.

To find out more about what district rate payments fund, please visit Council’s website. For advice on rates, housing benefit and rates relief, please visit:


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