Ratepayers receive rate bills

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Home owners and businesses throughout the Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon District Council received their rate bill for 2016-2017 last week.

The bill outlines the amount due for the billing period 2016-17 and includes any unpaid arrears from previous years, along with any rate relief where applicable.

Highlighting the importance of paying rates, a Land & Property Services spokesperson said: “As of 31 March 2015, there were 92,000 rateable properties across the Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon District Council area.

“This money is vital for our local economy, as it is invested in public services such as healthcare, education and roads as well as helping to fund numerous council services, including recreational facilities, building control, bin collection, tourism and local events.

“The easiest and most convenient way to pay is by Direct Debit. Currently 55% of ratepayers in Northern Ireland pay their bills this way, spreading the cost of the bill over a 10 month period and helping to ease any financial pressure. A choice of three collection dates is available for Direct Debit – 7th, 15th or 28th of each month.

“As in previous years, there are a number of other ways to pay, including online via the nidirect website, at any Post Office or PayPoint outlet using the ‘Rates Quick Pay Card,’ by phone or in person at an LPS Customer Information Centre.”

For domestic ratepayers, there is a 4% discount if they pay their bill in full on or before the discount date of 6 May.

The spokesperson continued: “If you are having trouble paying your rates, contact LPS immediately. Last year LPS made 65,860 payment arrangements with ratepayers to help them manage their rating debt.”

If there is any information on your bill which you think is incorrect, or you have not received a bill, please contact LPS on 0300 200 7801.

The District Rate Subsidy scheme continues to apply to domestic and non-domestic ratepayers whose rates increased significantly with the merger of some councils in April 2015. If a ratepayer is eligible for the subsidy, the reduction will automatically be applied.

Bills this year will now include a breakdown of any debt owed by year and a new zero balance statement has also been introduced. This will be sent to ratepayers who are in receipt of an exemption or exclusion and would not previously have been sent a bill.

Further information and guidance on rates and the online payment facility is available on the nidirect website: https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/campaigns/a-guide-to-rates or for non-domestic customers, on the NIBusinessInfo website: https://www.nibusinessinfo.co.uk/. Alternatively, ratepayers can speak to LPS staff in person by visiting one of the LPS Customer Information Centres in Belfast, Ballymena, Omagh, Craigavon and Londonderry.