Ulster Business

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Northern Ireland pubs 'facing 20% hike in rates'

Colin Neill

Pubs in Northern Ireland look set to face a 20% increase in their rates bills amid a new revaluation, Ulster Business can reveal.

The latest analysis shows that a new draft re-look at rates could see pubs and other licensed businesses hit by the largest surges.

The revamp is part of the Department of Finance’s Reval2020 – which is a reassessment of the rates system which businesses pay, and is based on the rentable value of the business and financial performamce.

While still a draft schedule of values, each council will also have to apply its own regional rate, based on the new proposed figures.

According to new research, the pub increases are higher than other sectors including, retail (-1%), manufacturing (+2%), warehouses (+2%) and offices (+8%)

Eight licensed business could see their valuations increase by £100,000 or more, and around 58 pubs saw their NAV (Net Annual Value) double or more as a result of the revaluation.

Industry group Hospitality Ulster has also written to the newly established Stormont finance committee to outline its concerns.

It’s warned some businesses could look at cost-cutting or passing on the increasing overheads to customers. It says it has “grave concerns” on the current method of evaluating rates bills.

The organisation is calling for LPS to “re-engage with the representative organisations to develop a fair ‘receipts and expenditure’ (R&E) methodology before requiring individual businesses to supply trading accounts for revaluation.”

A spokesman for Land & Property Services previously told Ulster Business: “In Northern Ireland, nearly 40% of pubs will have no change or a decrease in their Net Annual Value (NAV).

“Any business rate payer who thinks their new valuation may be incorrect, can contact LPS to arrange an informal review and supply any relevant information before the new valuation list comes into force on April 1, 2020.”

Meanwhile, reacting to the announcement that a new Liquor Licensing Bill will be introduced to the Assembly, Colin Neill said: “This is very welcome news from the Assembly this afternoon that the legislation to modernise our outdated liquor licensing will be introduced.

“Now is the time to bring real and meaningful change to support the hospitality sector. We look forward to engaging with Executive Ministers, MLAs in the Assembly and Committee members to ensure the swift passage of this Bill through the house.”

“The transformative effect that this will have on the sector, tourism and the economy will be very positive and help us become competitive at a time when the likes of inflated rates and a high level of hospitality VAT are barriers to growth.

“We have had many false dawns with the Bill previously being introduced in the last Assembly before suspension, now is the time to make it count.”

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