Belfast Telegraph

DPF consults on rate levy plan to aid small businesses

By Paul Gosling

The Department of Finance and Personnel is consulting on the introduction of a rates levy on the largest retail premises, to finance a doubling of rate relief for small businesses.

DFP described the proposals as intended to rebalance the rating system during the economic downturn.

Finance Minister Sammy Wilson said: “The Executive wants to create the right conditions for a sustained economic recovery. The proposals in the consultation paper are about coexistence in the market place, not favouring small over large businesses.”

He added: “I think it is right that additional small businesses get help and that this should be funded by asking the largest retailers to pay more.

“These two main changes, if agreed by the Executive and Assembly following consultation, would apply for three years.

“The measures would be redistributive in nature and broadly self funding.”

The consultation, which runs until the middle of October, will also consider a proposal to allow shops, that are used for non-commercial window displays, a three-year exemption from full occupied rates.

The proposals were welcomed by the Northern Ireland Independent Retail Trade Association.

Chief executive Glyn Roberts said: “These are excellent proposals which will be welcomed by independent retailers and small business owners in every part of NI. We urge every small business owner to respond positively to this consultation.

“This scheme is of vital importance to thousands of small businesses and independent retailers who are struggling to pay their rates bills. The reality is that the big high-street retailers such as Asda, Tesco and many others continue to make billions of pounds of profit and have performed well during the recession.”

Belfast Telegraph