| 6.1°C Belfast

MLA in plea for Stormont minister Conor Murphy to defer rates

conor murphy

The Finance Minister must consider measures to help businesses suffering a downturn in trade as a result of coronavirus, Alliance has said.

North Down MLA Andrew Muir said action from Conor Murphy such as deferring rates payments for the next few months would go a long way to protecting jobs and livelihoods.

He was speaking after the Chancellor scrapped business rates for thousands of small businesses in England over the next year. But Mr Murphy said it would cost an extra £200m for Stormont to do the same.

"We may be fortunate to get half of that as a consequence of the announcement in England, but that will still leave us with over £100m shortfall," he told the BBC.

Mr Muir said Mr Murphy should come up with alternatives.

"They could take the form of a number of actions - a uniform drop in non-domestic rates payable or taking a lenient view on businesses struggling to pay, meaning either a rates holiday or a deferral of payments until the economy recovers from this pandemic," he said.

He said rates revaluations could be suspended for sectors badly hit by the crisis, such as hospitality.

Belfast Telegraph