Chris Heaton-Harris sets 6% domestic rate increase in Northern Ireland

The domestic regional rate in Northern Ireland is set to be increased by 6%.

Secretary of State Chris Heaton-Harris set the rate for the year ahead in the continued absence of a functioning devolved government in the region.

The Stormont Assembly has been in flux for the last year due to protest action by the DUP, who are refusing to participate until their concerns around Brexit’s Northern Ireland Protocol are addressed.

Mr Heaton-Harris has announced the non-domestic regional rate will be frozen at the 2022-23 level for businesses in Northern Ireland, and the domestic rate will rise by 6%.

He described the 6% increase as below the rate of inflation at 10%, and also lower than the average increase of 6.67% to the domestic district rate set by local councils.

Mr Heaton-Harris said he acknowledged the impact of the cost-of-living crisis, and engaged in extensive consultation with the Stormont department of finance, as well as business groups, in setting the rate.

“In the absence of the Northern Ireland Executive, I have set the regional rate to ensure the crucial delivery of public services and provide certainty for NI taxpayers,” he said.

“I am very aware that this comes amidst cost-of-living pressures for both NI businesses and households, and I have set the rates to improve the sustainability of the NI public finances whilst protecting those most in need.

“Whilst I will not shirk my responsibility to do the right thing for NI’s finances, it remains the case these decisions should be taken by locally elected politicians in a fully functioning NI Executive.”

Colin Neill, chief executive of Hospitality Ulster, welcomed the move.

“This is welcome news at a time when cost pressures are hurting the wider business community and the hospitality sector in particular,” he said.

“We have fought hard and made representations to the Secretary of State to do more for business and for our industry and we are glad to see that he has heeded the warning signs and made this decision to freeze the non-domestic regional rate for the next financial year.”