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Last Updated: Monday, 6 October, 2003, 17:50 GMT 18:50 UK
Budget plans include rate hike
Ian Pearson announced draft budget proposals
The average domestic rates bill in Northern Ireland is to rise by 35 next year according to the Finance Minister Ian Pearson.

Mr Pearson was unveiling details of how government departments in the province will spend more than 7bn next year - with increased allocations for health and education.

The Department of Finance has been under pressure from the Treasury to raise more money locally to pay for increase in spending.

Monday's announcement included details of how this would hit the average homeowner.

Regional rates - the part of the rates bill that goes to help pay for central government - will rise by 9% next year and for a number of years.

The minister said this translates into a rise in the average rates bill of about 35 for the next 12 months.

Resources for health increase by 8.6% - and for education by almost 7%.

They provide for major programmes of investment and reform as well as providing a full range of public services
Ian Pearson
NIO finance minister

The minister also published draft legislation introducing rates on industry and vacant commercial property.

This, combined with the increased revenue from domestic rates, will allow the department of finance to borrow 200m per year to help tackle the backlog of spending on infrastructure such as roads and the water service.

Announcing the details on Monday Mr Pearson said the proposals "reflect the government's view of how best to take forward the approach to public services and investment set by the executive before the suspension of devolution last year.

"They provide for major programmes of investment and reform as well as providing a full range of public services.

"This will involve spending around 7bn each year for the next three years.

"They include plans for the extension of the Strategic Investment Programme, announced in February, which will provide over 2.2bn of investment over a five year period, as well as plans to cut electricity costs for businesses by around 30m each year."

Last year for the first time, the minister announced figures for three years ahead - on the basis that this would allow for better planning.

He also announced draft legislation on how he plans to introduce rates for industry and on vacant commercial property - moves which would bring Northern Ireland in line with the rest of the UK.

BBC NI business editor James Kerr
"A lot of people will be waiting to see what return we get from this increase"

Government fails to spend 400m
03 Jun 03  |  Northern Ireland
Boost for NI public spending
11 Dec 02  |  Northern Ireland

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