NI business bodies urge councils not to hike rates
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.”