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Developments on business rates expected ‘within days’

First Minister Arlene Foster said UK Government-wide schemes have had a very positive impact on the tourism and hospitality sector.


Arlene Foster expects developments within days (Liam McBurney/PA)

Arlene Foster expects developments within days (Liam McBurney/PA)

Arlene Foster expects developments within days (Liam McBurney/PA)

There will be developments on Northern Ireland’s business rates regime within days, First Minister Arlene Foster has said.

Firms which have been hit by the coronavirus shutdown have enjoyed a three-month holiday from paying the tax.

Companies struggling with an abrupt, and in many cases total, loss of income want the tax relief to be extended to a full year.

Mrs Foster told a Stormont news conference: “There’s also been a rates holiday for three months and there will be further developments in relation to rates in the coming days.

“I also want to say that in relation to the UK Government-wide schemes, those have had a very positive impact particularly on the tourism and hospitality sector.”

Economy Minister Diane Dodds has said Stormont’s coronavirus economic support schemes will never be able to cover all businesses.

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Mrs Foster said firms will be looking very carefully at fresh detail from the Chancellor on Tuesday around extending furloughing to the end of October.

She added: “But I do expect as well that this is not the end of the interventions from the UK Government, and indeed ourselves.

“We will want to look at a stimulus package in the future because we’re very aware that we’re in the response phase now still at the moment in relation to Covid-19, then we will move to the recovery and renewal phase, and we will want to help those businesses that are hardest hit.

“Anyone that knows me knows that I am a great champion of tourism and hospitality, and we will want to get back to the place that we were at before this terrible disease hit us.”

Tens of thousands of England’s retail, leisure and hospitality firms will not pay any business rates in the coming year.

Companies with a rateable value of less than £51,000 will be in line for the tax holiday, Rishi Sunak said.

Stormont finance minister Conor Murphy has previously expressed reservations about following suit.

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