Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 30 September 2014

Retailers urge household rates cut

Measures which would mean big stores pay more in rates and smaller businesses less are being considered by Sammy Wilson

Rates for households should be reduced to boost the economy, large retailers have said.

The Executive should resist inflationary pressures to slash the levy for home and business owners alike, the Northern Ireland Retail Consortium added.

Finance Minister Sammy Wilson is considering measures leaving big stores paying a lot more in rates and smaller businesses less.

Jane Bevis, director of the consortium, said: "The Executive is right to be looking to help small businesses through rate relief, providing it is fairly funded. That means all sectors which stand to benefit should contribute.

"There also needs to be a focus on collecting bad debt and reducing the cost of local government in Northern Ireland with the ultimate aim of lowering rates for all, households and businesses alike."

She is set to give evidence to Stormont's finance and personnel committee on the proposed large retailer levy and small business rates relief plans.

As well as rates being reduced and extending the small business relief scheme, the consortium also wants the accelerated introduction of business improvement districts, an overhaul of the planning system to improve processing times for applications for developments and a commitment to developing the skills of the workforce.

Ms Bevis added: "The best route to a bright economic future for Northern Ireland involves the private sector and Executive working together to attract investment, revitalise consumer confidence and regenerate town centres. With the right support, retailers - small and large - can play a significant part in this."

Proposed changes would mean 26 companies with 77 retail premises paying an extra £85,000 a year in rates per premises.

This would equate to an average rates saving for small businesses of around £750.

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