Wilson Freezes Empty Property Rating

NI Finance Minister Sammy Wilson has announced that the rating of empty commercial properties will remain frozen at 50%.

The 50% level for the rating of empty commercial premises was introduced in Northern Ireland in 2004, and the Minister’s decision follows an evaluation of the scheme by his Department.

The Minister (pictured) explained his reasoning behind the decision and said: "Levying rates on empty commercial premises is a move which, the evaluation shows, is working reasonably well," said Minister Wilson.

"Allowing commercial properties to lie empty is not good for the economy and, ultimately, not good for business.

"I still feel it is right to make empty premises liable for rates to both contribute to the funding of public services and help encourage the property quickly back onto the market."

The decision to keep the level at 50% contrasts with the position in England and Wales where rates are charged at the full 100%. There have, however, been calls for increased relief for owners of empty properties in light of the economic downturn.
News Image
The Minister responded to these demands by saying: "I have listened carefully to the calls for more relief for vacant properties, particularly from those in the local business community. I have decided to retain empty property relief at 50% at least until we are well into recovery.

"Because of the worsening economic outlook we made the wise decision in 2008 not to follow the change to 100% liability in England and Wales for all commercial properties, including factories. Now is not the time for such moves though I think it is worth looking at again when economic conditions have improved.

"In coming to my decision, I have also considered the direct impact any further concessions would have on the revenues available to district councils for the important local services they deliver.

"I believe that this is a prudent approach, balancing the need to help the local economy through the recession, with the demands that a tightening financial environment are placing on the public purse."

Mr Wilson did announce one change to the policy, making properties that are occupied by companies in administration exempt from having to pay vacant property rates.

"Currently, companies in administration are liable for vacant rates," he said.

"My view is that this hinders the rescue of such businesses. I therefore intend to exclude them from this liability from April, a move which is also helpful to councils because it avoids the uncertainties associated with what often turns out to be written off debt."


Related Northern Ireland News Stories
Click here for the latest headlines.

16 October 2018
Lisburn Engineering Firm To Create Almost 300 Jobs
An engineering firm in Lisburn is to create almost 300 new jobs as part of £28million expansion plans. Camlin confirmed it will create 298 posts and has enhanced its headquarters in the area. Camlin develops and supplies engineering solutions, primarily for the electricity and rail industries.
14 March 2019
Bloody Sunday Families Await Prosecution Decision
The families of 13 people killed on Bloody Sunday in 1972 have gathered in L'Derry to await a decision on whether 17 soldiers involved on the day are to be prosecuted. The Public Prosecution Service is due to release its decision at around 11am today, Thursday 14 March, having considered 125,000 pages of material.
18 January 2019
EA Decision To Drop Irish Deemed 'Unacceptable' By Sinn Fein
A decision by the Education Authority (EA) to drop Irish Language translations from its branding has been slammed by Sinn Fein.
10 October 2018
NI Parties Criticise Bill For Decision-Making Process
Northern Ireland political leaders have criticised the government's draft proposal to give local civil servants enhanced powers. The comments follow fresh talks to unlock the decision-making impasse in Northern Ireland on Monday 08 October, in which a draft bill was tabled. There has been no functioning executive at Stormont since January 2017.
25 September 2018
Norwegian Air Decision 'Moronic'
Norwegian Air has announced the end of its direct flights from Northern Ireland to the United States. The low-cost airline launched the direct routes to New York and Boston in 2017, but said that the last US flight would leave NI on 27 October, due to "customer demand".