NI business groups back 'targeted' rate relief scheme
More than two dozen organisations are backing a new "targeted" rate relief scheme for small businesses across Northern Ireland.
The plans have been outlined by the Northern Ireland Independent Retail Trade Association (NIIRTA), Hospitality Ulster and the Department for Finance.
They include a targeted scheme for retail and hospitality businesses which have a 'net annual value' - or yearly business rent - of less than £25,000.
And a coalition of business organisations will be writing to the leaders of the parties here, seeking their support for the business scheme.
In a joint statement, the organisations and Chambers of Commerce said: "This new scheme of over £22m of rate relief is the highest amount ever, and is around two and a half times the previous relief available.
"This is significant and we urge cross-party backing for this business-critical plan."
"These proposals are not just supporting the growth in retail and hospitality, but also, given the independent retail and hospitality sectors' commitment to sourcing local produce, they are a real boost for the local supply chain and for the agri-food sector, among others.
"We believe this plan is good for town and city centre regeneration, revitalising our villages and rural infrastructure and for growing our tourism potential."
"Not only will this rate relief scheme be beneficial for many existing independent retail and hospitality businesses, it will potentially assist new start businesses in our sectors with a substantial rate reduction, helping reduce their start-up costs."
It comes as Prime Minister Theresa May says she has full confidence in Communities Secretary Sajid Javid, Downing Street said, as more Tory MPs waded into the row over business rates.
Mr Javid and Treasury Chief Secretary David Gauke have been accused of misleading party colleagues over the effect of a business rate revaluation which will leave more than a quarter of companies facing higher bills.