15/10/2014

NI Businesses Face 'Perfect Storm' Of Rates - NIIRTA

Northern Ireland's Private Sector is a facing a "perfect storm" of challenges with Business Rates in 2015, according to the Northern Ireland Independent Retail Trade Association (NIIRTA).

The Association made the announcement in its evidence to the Assembly Finance and Personnel Committee this morning.

NIIRTA Chief Executive Glyn Roberts told the Finance Committee: "With the Rates Revaluation, Council Rates Convergence, the review of the Small Business Rate Relief Scheme and a forthcoming comprehensive review of Rating Policy all coming in 2015, our business community is facing a ‘Perfect Storm’ of Rates Challenges

"The Rates Revaluation will result in winners and losers, but our Town Centre traders must not be the losers. It is unfair that large out of town multi-national supermarkets pay less per sq. ft. in rates than a small independent retailer in a town centre. This blatantly unfair unbalance must be rectified as the top priority of the Revaluation"

Mr Roberts continued: "On Council Rates Convergence, no business should have to pay extra rates as a result of the creation of the new eleven super councils. It is therefore vital that the new £30m fund addresses this issue.

“While the current Small Business Rate Relief Scheme (SBRRS) has been well received, we also believe there is an argument to look at a targeted approach to support retailers in town centres and arterial routes,

"NIIRTA would call upon DFP to establish a targeted Town Centre Rate Relief Scheme, which would provide a 25% reduction for town centre retailers and those in the hospitality sector. In much of the discussions on town and city centres, the question of regenerating villages has been left out. We would urge DFP to consider a Rural Retail Rate Relief Scheme for those retailers who are an integral part of village life."

NIIRTA has also called for a change in the qualifying criteria of the Empty Premises Relief from a property having to be twelve months vacant to six months.

(IT/CD)

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