Belfast Telegraph

Banks, hotels and wholesalers targeted for large retailer levy

By Clare Weir

The Assembly's Finance and Personnel committee has recommended that banks, hotel groups and wholesalers be included in a proposed large retailer levy.

The suggested tax is part of plans to expand the small business rate relief scheme - essentially asking large firms to pay more rates so small ones can pay less.

Most respondents to a consultation on the levy said they supported the proposal, which has been strongly resisted by Tesco, Sainsbury's, Asda and Ikea.

Committee chairman Conor Murphy yesterday said it wanted to "refine" the proposed scheme so large businesses which have multiple small premises do not benefit. "Some of the sectors that we believe should be included are banking and financial institutions, telecoms companies, wholesalers, large hotel groups and large retailers," said the Sinn Fein MLA.

"We are very aware of the difficult economic context in which the proposals are being made.

"Because of this, the committee focused on ensuring that the support goes to smaller businesses which need it the most, while making sure that the burden on larger businesses is fair and proportionate."

The committee also wants clarification on the definition of "out of town" retailer.

Glyn Roberts, of the NI Independent Retailers Association, said the committee had reflected "many of the ideas which NIIRTA ... put forward in written and oral evidence to the committee".