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Explanatory Memorandum to Rates (Capital Values, etc.) (Northern Ireland) Order 2006

Background and Policy Objectives

3.The Order paves the way for the introduction of a new domestic rating system in Northern Ireland based on individual capital values from April 2007 by enabling the Commissioner of Valuation for Northern Ireland ("the Commissioner") to publish the capital value of every domestic property in Northern Ireland. This will give ratepayers an early opportunity to make enquiries and, if necessary, seek an informal review in advance of the new system coming into operation.

4.The Order also fully exempts community halls (subject to certain criteria) from rates and increases the current level of sport and recreational relief from 65% to 80% (in line with the existing level of mandatory relief in Great Britain). These reforms will take effect from 1 April 2006. It also provides for the power to repay or recover rates where hardship relief has been awarded under the new scheme for businesses introduced on 31 December 2005.

5.These reforms are part of a major programme of rating reforms initiated by the Northern Ireland Executive in 2000 with the aim of making the rating system fairer and more understandable.

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