Rates relief extended to assist businesses

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Tuesday, November 27th, 2012
Finance Minister Sammy Wilson has announced his intention to extend a number of rate reliefs and exemptions to assist businesses. The Empty Retail Premises Relief scheme and the rates exemption for stand alone ATMs in rural areas which were due to end in March 2013 will now be extended until the end of the current budget period in March 2015, subject to Assembly approval. The Minister also announced his intention to extend the current 18 month developer exclusion applicable under the Rating of Empty Homes for a further 12 months. Speaking in the Assembly yesterday, Sammy Wilson commented: “The Executive recognises the difficulties that our local businesses are facing and are committed to helping them in these challenging financial times. “Northern Ireland has led the way with this innovative scheme and was the first devolved administration in the UK to introduce such an initiative; Scotland is now following in our footsteps. 52 businesses have benefited from a 50% reduction on their rates totalling £143,000 since the introduction of this new rate relief in April 2012. He continued, “As well as tackling the high number of shops in our town centres this scheme is also helping to create much needed employment in this difficult economic climate. I would encourage anyone thinking of setting up a business in an empty retail unit to consider applying for this concession. “Just ask Land & Property Services and they will be happy to advise you about applying. During his statement the Minister also highlighted the assistance the Executive is providing for small businesses by extending the Small Business Rate Relief Scheme to include properties with a Net Annual Value of up to £15,000. This will see an additional 3,500 businesses benefiting from a 20% reduction on their rates. Another measure which the Finance Minister intends to extend is the exemption of rates for stand alone ATMs in rural areas. Commenting on this he said: “I am of the view that retaining ATMs in rural areas is important to ensure financial inclusion for rural communities, given the loss of other financial services in recent years. In addition, research shows that cash withdrawn in rural areas is usually spent locally.” He added, “I hope the extension of these rate reliefs and measures will provide much needed assistance to our local businesses in these difficult economics times.” Glyn Roberts, Chief Executive of the Northern Ireland Independent Retail Trade Association (NIIRTA) said: “Since the extension of the Small Business Rate Relief Scheme in April we have received positive feedback from members about the savings on their rates bills and how they have been re-invested back into their business. “We are pleased that the Minister has once again listened to our views and extended the scheme which will benefit many more of our members in these challenging economic times. The Empty Premises Relief has also played a role in both supporting new start businesses and addressing the problem of vacant shops and buildings. “It is excellent news that the scheme has helped to create 52 new businesses since April.” Further information about the Empty Retail Premise Scheme can be found on the NI Business Info website or by calling the Land & Property Services helpline on 0300 200 7801.
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