Local businesses will be encouraged at steps forward taken in the NI Assembly today to alleviate pressure on rates.
Reacting to the statement by the Finance Minister Máirtin Ó Muilleoir today on his announcement of a New Targeted Rate Relief Scheme both the Chief Executives of NIIRTA and Hospitality Ulster, Glyn Roberts and Colin Neill in a joint statement said: “The Northern Ireland Independent Retail Trade Association (NIIRTA) and Hospitality Ulster have warmly welcomed the proposal by the Finance Minister for a new and targeted Rate Relief Scheme for Retail and Hospitality, which he outlined this morning to the Assembly.
“The new proposed targeted Rate Relief Scheme is based upon joint proposals put forward by Hospitality Ulster and NIIRTA earlier this year.
“We are delighted that the Finance Minister has adopted the majority of our proposals for a new targeted Rate Relief scheme for Retail and Hospitality. We are encouraged to hear that our main proposal of £25k NAV (Net Annual Value) and below for qualifying businesses has been included.
“This new scheme of over £22million of rate relief is the highest amount ever, and is around two and a half times the previous relief available. This is significant and we urge cross party backing for this business-critical plan.
“These proposals are not just supporting the growth in retail and hospitality, but also given our members commitment to sourcing local produce, they are a real boost for the local supply chain and for the agri-food sectors among others. In addition, we believe this plan is good for town and city centre regeneration and for growing our tourism potential.
“Directly assisting our independent retail and hospitality sectors is in line with existing rate relief for Manufacturing and Agriculture. Not only will this rate relief scheme be beneficial for many existing independent retail and hospitality businesses, it will potentially assist new start businesses in our sectors with a substantial rate reduction helping reduce their startup costs. Businesses will have the confidence to reinvest the money that they will save on hiring new staff, further skills training and planning for the future.
“In 2014 the Northern Ireland Centre for Economic Policy (NICEP) made a key recommendation that the Small Business Rate Relief scheme needed to be targeted and focus on areas that could readily promote economic growth. This announcement today does just that with the emphasis on the Hospitality and Retail sectors, two areas which are already responsible for driving growth in the economy.
“We also welcome the new pilot ‘Business Empowerment Zones’ earmarked for East and West Belfast and a long-awaited review of the Business Rates Hardship Fund.”
“Both our organisations called upon the Minister to consider radical reform of business rates – this is exactly what he has outlined and we commend him for this bold plan.”