Irwin welcomes review of Small Business Rates Relief Scheme

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Thursday, July 19th, 2012
Newry & Armagh DUP Assemblyman Councillor William Irwin MLA has welcomed the decision by Finance Minister Sammy Wilson MP MLA to commence an ‘in-year’ review of the current Small Business Rates Relief Scheme. The rates relief scheme, which has also been labelled the ‘Tesco Tax’, is designed to offer rates relief to smaller businesses through additional payments from mega stores such as the multinational supermarkets.

DUP Councillor William Irwin insists that more should be done to help small businesses

The scheme drew concern from some quarters when it was introduced, however Irwin was forthright in welcoming the decision taken by Minister Wilson, who stated that the mega stores could well afford to pay more in order to assist smaller stores. The Minister is now reviewing the performance of the scheme to see if any changes can be made which would assist an even greater number of smaller businesses. Savings to smaller businesses currently eligible for the relief are estimated to be in the region of £735 on average, with some able to save around £1000 which can be reinvested in their business. Welcoming the review Irwin MLA spoke to Newry Times and said, “I had the opportunity in the Assembly Chamber some months ago to question the Minister on this relief scheme and I asked whether all the bluster by Tesco who stated that it (the levy) could derail their future plans, was believable. I recall the Minister was very robust in his response and he fully agreed that the mega stores could well afford to pay the levy.” “The scheme has certainly brought benefits to those eligible and when you consider that around 24,000 businesses have claimed the rate relief, that is a significant statistic. The Minster is right to review the scheme at this stage to see if further refinements could be made to assess whether additional help could be offered to those who need it most.” Irwin insisted that this is how the devolved government should work, making decisions which are best suited to the actual economic realities for businesses in Northern Ireland. He added, “I am very supportive of the need for government in Northern Ireland to listen to the needs of smaller businesses as these businesses are the lifeblood of our towns and cities across the country. The Finance Minister is certainly taking this matter seriously and I will be interested to see what new proposals the review brings forward and hopefully further assistance can be offered in this challenging economic climate.”
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