Department of Finance and Personnel Press Release
Finance Minister, Sammy Wilson, has launched a consultation on increasing the amount of rate relief for small businesses, which would be funded by a levy on the largest retail premises.
The proposals are intended to rebalance the rating system during the economic downturn, helping to create the right conditions for recovery. The measures include broadly doubling the amount of rate relief provided to small businesses, without it being a draw on the public purse.
Minister Wilson said: “The Executive wants to create the right conditions for a sustained economic recovery. The proposals in the consultation paper are about co-existence in the market place, not favouring small over large businesses.
“The downturn has been very difficult for most sectors of the economy but some have fared better than others during this period. The large retail sector is a case in point. 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. One policy is dependent on the other. There should not be any further pressure on the public purse.”
The Minister went on to set out other proposed changes to the non-domestic rating system.
He said: “I am also canvassing views on proposals to allow the non-commercial use of window displays in empty shops, so that the full occupied rate is not charged on otherwise empty properties. This would also apply for three years.”
In concluding the Minister commented: “I would urge business organisations, as well as businesses themselves, to respond to the consultation – not simply to voice an opinion but to offer evidence of the benefits and drawbacks of the proposals, my Department’s preliminary analysis and the initial impact assessments. All this will be considered before final decisions are reached in the autumn.
“Following consultation I will be asking the Executive and Assembly to approve any legislation so that the final measures could be in place from 1 April 2012 for a three year period through to 31 March 2015.”
The consultation will run for 16 weeks ending on Tuesday 18 October 2011.