The post yesterday brought my annual rates bill.

In Northern Ireland money for public services comes from a) our share of the UK’s central tax revenue and b) the contributions we make through the rates. The latter is again split into two parts, the reigonal rate and the district rate. In the year 2008/09, as in previous years the reigonal rate helps pay for services such as the health service, education and water (including sewerage). The proposed changes and addition of seperate Water rates take effect in April 2009. The District rates pay for services provided by the local councils such as leisure services, refuse collections, building control and environmental health.

With the bill were three items:

1) a booklet with information about the rate bill

2) a leaflet on how to get help for those on very low income

3) and this:-

The crest on the right is for PSNI (Police Service for Northern Ireland).

The idea is good to inform people on ways to protect their home and belongings, but I wonder how many little old ladies were unable to sleep last night?


17 thoughts on “LOCK IT OR LOSE OUT

  1. I hope that didn’t include you. Grannymar?

    I’m very impressed by your knowledge of the rates system. What changes are proposed in the coming year and has your bill rocketed as a result?

  2. Steph.

    The whole rating system was updated last year with the introduction of ‘capital values’. Some ratepayers found their bills increased greatly at that time compared to the old NAV system. Over 33% increase in some cases. Older large properties had not been re-valued for years. Thankfully my increase was not anything more than usual.

    Specific water bills are to be issued next April, so the domestic regional rate will be reduced by the amount that currently goes towards the water services. I am sure the bills will go up no matter what jam they put on it.

    I keep my old hat and tin whistle handy….

  3. Burglaries are actually very rare except in certain hotspots. I’ve never been burgled in my life and neither has my mother yet she insists on a whole repertoire of precautions she follows rigorously – locking the windows, chaining the front door, hall lighting when she’s out etc. I know she’s 85 and missed out on the karate training, but even so – people worry themselves to death.

    Oh and distraction burglaries – that must be when the burglar gets in the back door while I’m gawping at the 22-year-old blonde across the road….

  4. Nick I am not a worrier and managed my usual amount of sleep last night.

    Alas, I know all about burglaries! My house was broken into five years ago when it was well locked up. I was away at the time and the back door frame (aluminium) was literally hacked out of the wall. Whoever did it was determined to get in. Of course nobody around about me heard or saw anything.

    From the state of the door I was glad not to be here at the time! My belongings were spread like a river all over the house. It is a horrible feeling to know that all your personal items have been touched and soiled. All my jewellery and items from Jack’s mother and grandmother were taken.

    At the end of the day I was uninjured and only material things were taken. I still have my memories and NOBODY can take them away. I scrubbed, cleaned and moved on…

  5. Oh! GM 😦

    I’m so sorry to read about your burglary. I can well imagine how sickening and cruel that must have felt at the time. However, your attitude to it is a shining example of all the traits I’ve come to know and like in you through your blog 😀

    You should put up a sign on the door which says…


  6. Thanks Steph.

    I thought that sign was tattooed on my forehead! 😆

    I’m a happy mammy now, just talked to a very tired Elly at Heathrow. Another couple of hours and she will land on Irish soil. 😀

  7. Grannymar,

    My brother’s wife, Tessie, had a fur coat that she loved. Nobody knew what kind of fur it was,except that it was brown.

    She adored that coat and felt very dressed up and chic when she marched to Communion every Sunday in front of the whole parish.She always said she loved Winter the best because she could wear her gorgeous fur coat.

    One night we all came back to Bob and Tessie’s apartment to find the front door wide open and the whole place ransacked. Every drawer was torn apart and the contents spilled on the floor. Books were thrown out of the bookcases and they were also strewn on the floor.The place was a total wreck!

    Tessie was surprisingly calm. Never batted an eye UNTIL she spied her fur coat on the kitchen floor. Then she screamed!
    She was so upset about her coat and we tried to comfort her; telling her that at least the robbers hadn’t taken it.

    That’s when we discovered what she was so upset and angry about. She stood in the middle of her kitchen with her beloved fur coat in her arms screaming..

    “Who does that low life stupid crook think he is? Rejecting my coat! If I ever get my hands on him I’ll KILL him.

    She was so angry that the robber had looked her coat over and thrown it in his reject pile, she went berserk. “If I ever find out who he is, he’ll regret that he ever came into my house and doubly regret that he didn’t want my beautiful fur coat.”

    She never wore that coat again…..

  8. Nancy,

    Jack offered me a Mink coat once, but I refused it. I didn’t lead a ‘mink coat’ lifestyle and it would have been a terrible waste. I did give in long enough to try it on and walk up the sales floor. I have to admit it looked great and I felt a million Dollars! The sales lady worked hard to make the sale; she could see that Jack was willing to part with his money.

    My mother couldn’t understand me saying no when Jack told her about it.

  9. We bought a house in England a few years ago: to be there in case of sudden death, or to sell when we retire, in order to have some money towards something here (we could not afford to buy anything here).

    Taunton Deane Council send out an itemised rates bill breaking down which bodies receive which amounts and a booklet advising what each body provides, it includes Somerset County Council, Avon and Somerset Police Authority, Taunton Deane Borough Council, Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Authority and the local parish council.

    I hope your council provides similar information and an explanation as to what they are doing to make ‘Lock it or Lose it’ leaflets unnecessary!

  10. Sorry to hear about your burglary, it must have been a horrible shock. I’m sure I would be devastated if our house was ripped apart like that. I admire your stoical attitude in clearing up and carrying on. And glad it hasn’t left any permanent nervousness.

  11. Ian,

    The booklet from our council contains 14 pages of which four paragraphs tell us how the rates are worked out. Eight pages tell us how to pay the bill and the last one informs us in 7 languages that:
    ‘This leaflet explains your rate bill. If you need this information in a different language or format, please write to the address below.’

    They would consider the ‘Lock it or Lose it’ information and indeed all security outside their remit.

  12. Nick

    Everyone gets a kick in the metaphorical teeth sometime in life, we just have to get up, dress up and get on with life. There are no prizes for weeping.

    I wonder if the announcement that ‘Northern Ireland is in line for a US investment package which could be worth hundreds of millions of pounds’, might effect our Water rates next year?


  13. I’m not a fan of scare tactics . . reminds me of the Grim Reaper advertisements when AIDS was first publicised. I’ve never locked my home or my car but as suburbia encroaches, we’ve had for sale signs stolen, garbage bins damaged and the signs of vanalistic invasion are around us. I’ve begun locking up at night but never saw the sense in an alarm which just annoys neighbours when it goes off. Hopefully three sleeping dogs will be a deterrent. Then again, the buggers have probably waltzed in, seen the impoverished state of my electronic equipment and decided to go next door! Even the kids I chased off the other night were just malingering and I suspect friends of my neice.
    Our rates leaflets tend to be filled with information about recycling and greening Australia. We only pay counsil rates and water rates are separate. Taxes go towards larger infrastructure.

  14. Sympathies to you.

    Having come home and disturbed burglars after visiting wife and child in Hospital I know a bit of what you felt. That was in 1982 but it still rankles.

    Interestingly I have been out today buying new lock for back door plus hinge bolts too….

    Coincidence is a funny chap.

  15. Paddy ~ thanks.

    Baino ~ I dislike the scare tactics, I have some frail elderly neighbours and the leaflet above would certainly come between them and their sleep.

    Magpie ~ it is good to be prepared, I hope they are never put to the test.

    Judy ~ My point exactly.

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