Antrim and Newtownabbey to set rate against backdrop of pandemic-hit year

A special meeting of Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council will take place on Monday evening to strike a rate for domestic and business properties.

Friday, 26th February 2021, 6:39 pm

The local authority had anticipated that it would earn £52m before the Covid pandemic struck with praise for its “fiscal trajectory” and “best possible outcome for ratepayers”.

At the start of the financial year, last April, households saw an increase in domestic rates of 1.99 per cent but the business rate decreased of 3.54 per cent despite “inflationary pressures” over salaries, energy and waste disposal.

Now the council fears a drop in business rates income of 35 per cent and a loss of £0.5m in domestic rates as a result of the pandemic.

Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council has said previously it has “very grave concerns” over rates income due to an anticipated “economic downturn” amid fears that residents could be faced with an additional two per cent rate increase in the next financial year for every £1m deficit”.

The council also stated that it “did not foresee any recovery to meaningful income levels in leisure, arts and culture in this financial year”. The temporary closure of council facilities combined with reductions in planning and building control activity, resulted in an immediate estimated loss of £750k income monthly. Click here

A new £5m crematorium for Doagh Road, in Newtownabbey, is the only capital project to have been progressed.

However, in December, the council said it was confident that it could “avoid the need for any compulsory redundancies” after liaising with trade unions over recent months since an emergency financial plan was backed in April.

At the council’s full August meeting, it was confirmed 59 applications had been received for voluntary redundancy.

The local authority had proposed 68 redundancies in a bid to make financial savings of £3.3m.

Meanwhile, an audit report in June indicated that despite a decrease in the general fund by £1.38m, the reserves fund remains “within parameters”. 

The council was reported to have assets of £196m.

Michelle Weir, Local Democracy Reporter.

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