Retailers say review of rates must lead to a fairer system
A review of business rates in Northern Ireland is a "significant" move for bringing fairness to retailers and other businesses, it's been claimed.
The Department of Finance and Personnel (DFP) yesterday launched a long-awaited consultation on rates - one week after former Dragons' Den judge Theo Paphitis cited the rates system as one of the factors making it tough to do business in Northern Ireland.
He is bringing his lingerie brand Boux Avenue to Belfast's Victoria Square shopping centre (above).
Glyn Roberts, chief executive of the Northern Ireland Retail Trade Association, said it had "long been calling for a fundamental review of business rates and so we welcome this announcement".
He said: "For independent retailers and small business owners, business rates is the key issue for their business and NIIRTA will be proposing new ideas on how to make rates fair, cost effective and fit for purpose in a rapidly changing economy."
Rates are one of the biggest overheads faced by all businesses. Wilfred Mitchell, policy chair for the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) in NI, welcomed the consultation announced by DFP.
"For FSB members in Northern Ireland, business rates are one of the major overheads after staff costs and rent. Proportionately, small businesses pay more in rates than larger businesses and therefore, as it stands, the system is unfair," he said.
"FSB NI believes that there needs to be a wholesale rethink, not only on who pays what and how much is paid, but also on non-domestic rates as a concept."
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