NI busi­ness bod­ies urge coun­cils not to hike rates

Belfast Telegraph - Business Telegraph - - Front Page - BY RYAN MCALEER

THREE ma­jor busi­ness groups have called on North­ern Ire­land’s 11 coun­cils not to in­crease busi­ness rates.

Re­tail NI, Hos­pi­tal­ity Ul­ster and Man­u­fac­tur­ing NI have made the di­rect ap­peal to the lo­cal au­thor­i­ties, which play a sig­nif­i­cant role in set­ting rates.

Rates bills in North­ern Ire­land are made up of two parts. One side is the re­gional rate, tra­di­tion­ally set by Stor­mont. The other, the dis­trict rate, is set by the coun­cils.

With the lo­cal au­thor­i­ties due to be­gin dis­cussing the level of do­mes­tic and non-do­mes­tic rates for the com­ing year, the three busi­ness bod­ies have urged them not to add to the bur­den for busi­nesses.

“The busi­ness rate poundage has risen three times faster com­pared to the rest of the UK,” said Re­tail NI chief ex­ec­u­tive Glyn Roberts. “With our mem­bers ex­pe­ri­enc­ing huge un­cer­tainty with Brexit, ris­ing costs of run­ning their busi­ness and slow eco­nomic growth, the last thing they need is to pay more busi­ness rates.”

NI busi­nesses also look set to miss out on the rates cut for small busi­nesses an­nounced in last week’s Bud­get, due to rates re­main­ing a de­volved mat­ter.

“Our three or­gan­i­sa­tions recog­nise that our 11 coun­cils are key play­ers in eco­nomic devel­op­ment and we want to strengthen our re­la­tion­ship with them go­ing for­ward,” said Mr Roberts.

“Rates re­form is ab­so­lutely crit­i­cal to the fu­ture of the econ­omy. In our joint New Deal doc­u­ment we call for a rad­i­cal re­duc­tion in busi­ness rates to sup­port our town and city cen­tres and to en­sure small busi­ness own­ers can rein­vest more of their own money into grow­ing their busi­ness and em­ploy­ing more staff.”

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