Three Month Rates Holiday For NI Firms

The Department of Finance has implemented a three month rates holiday to assist local firms in managing the impact of the Covid-19 outbreak.

Following the Chancellor's announcement on Tuesday, Finance Minister Conor Murphy said businesses will pay no rates bills for the next three months, saving a total of £100 million.

Household rates bills will also be deferred from April until June, while discussions are ongoing as to reductions in the regional business rate.

Mr Murphy said the emergency measures will reduce costs and ease cash flow in the interim. Further announcements are expected.

"These are initial measures and I will be making further announcements shortly," the Sinn Fein MLA said.

"Rate relief alone will not sustain businesses and the jobs they provide. Everyone has to work together to get us through this."

While the measure has been welcomed among the business community, Retail NI Chief Executive Glyn Roberts said more measures will be needed in the coming weeks.
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The organisation is calling for a year-long rates holiday in line with the rest of the UK as well as clarification on what the regional rate will be reduced by.

"Retail NI is very clear -Northern Ireland small businesses need the same deal as the Chancellor has outlined in his statement," Mr Roberts said. "Our members are dealing with the same crisis and deserve the same support from Government in relation to Business Rates relief.

"The package from the Finance Minister needs to go a lot further than just exempting business rates for three months."

The retail chief continued: "We also need urgent clarification as to whether the funding grants outlined by the Chancellor for small businesses of £10k-£25k apply in Northern Ireland.

"While we accept the Finance Minister's rates package is an initial first step, we want the Executive to do much, much more to support business throughout this crisis.

"Northern Ireland businesses will rightly be asking the question as to why they are being treated differently to their counterparts elsewhere in the UK."

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