Belfast Telegraph

Assembly gives backing to large retailer levy

By Amanda Poole

The proposed introduction of a large retailer levy to help fund small businesses has received widespread Assembly support.

Finance Minister Sammy Wilson yesterday said the Bill introduces a number of measures aimed at rebalancing the rating system during the continuing economic downturn.

Around 70 retailers in Northern Ireland with a rateable value of at least £500,000 will be required to pay a levy of around 15% for a period of three years to March 2015.

An extension of the small business rate relief scheme is said to assist up to 8,300 small business ratepayers, with around £6m likely to be awarded in 2012/13.

Mr Wilson added: "I also want to do more to help get long-term empty shops back in business in the next rating year."

Glyn Roberts, chief executive of the NI Independent Retail Trade Association, said the measures will help those who will struggle to pay their rate bills in 2012.