Mid and East Antrim Borough Council facing potential £2.1m rates shortfall
Mid and East Antrim Borough Council is bracing itself for a potential reduction in rates income by £2.1m next year due to an end to furlough and rates holiday.
A report to councillors by the University of Ulster’s Economic Policy Centre has indicated that this could be the loss incurred by the local authority during the 2022/23 financial year.
In March, Finance Minister Conor Murphy announced that he was extending the rates holiday for a further 12 months for 29,000 businesses at a cost of £230m but his Department would “protect councils’ rate income as the Executive would cover the full cost of the rates holiday during the current financial year due to the Covid pandemic.
Seventy-two per cent of the local authority’s income which amounts to £50.75m of £70.2m overall comes from domestic and non-domestic rates payments. Domestic rates bring in almost £29m and non-domestic, £21.7m.
Mid and East Antrim’s average domestic rates bill is £984 per annum (nine pence per week increase from previous year) with the average business rates bill at £12,006 (84 pence per week increase from previous year).
Council officers stressed a “need to deploy a strategy that reduces reliance on rates and increases other sources of income to ensure future sustainability of services”, in a report presented at a meeting of the Borough Council on Monday evening.
A sum of £1.14m in redundancy was paid through a voluntary severance scheme.
The council has a debt of £60m.
However, councillors have been told that the authority is in “a healthy financial position” despite the Covid pandemic.
Borrowing was reduced by £4.9m since last year, councillors have been advised.
Michelle Weir, Local Democracy Reporter
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