31/05/2012

Minister Meets First Local Business To Benefit From New ERP

Finance Minister Sammy Wilson has congratulated a local woman from Londonderry who is the first person to benefit from the recently introduced discount for empty retail premises.

Mrs Catriona Jones has opened a small gift shop in the centre of Londonderry which was a former newsagent store and which will now benefit from the 50% discount for a period of 12 months. During his visit to the North West the Minister also met with a number of local traders and businesses in Limavady and Londonderry who have also received assistance through the expansion of the Small Business Rates Relief Scheme. The visit highlighted the Executive’s ongoing support for town and city centres and drew attention to the recent rating legislation.

Mr Wilson said: "Last year during the rating consultation I listened to views expressed from various organisations about the impact of empty shops on core shopping areas.

"As a result a one year concession was made available from 1 April, allowing 50% empty property relief to continue for a year on long term empty retail premises. It will apply where the property becomes occupied in 2012/13 and has been empty for 12 months or more. Relief will then be awarded for up to 12 months, helping to revitalise our town centres and core shopping areas.

"I am very encouraged by today’s visit and being able to see at first hand the first success of this new scheme to help Mrs Jones in the setting up of her small gift shop. This is exactly the sort of local business we want to help."

The ERP is one of a range of measures introduced by the Finance Minister as part of the wider commercial rating package and is addition to the measures taken to not charge occupied rates on non-commercial window displays in empty retail premises. Both measures are unique to Northern Ireland.

(CD/GK)

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