Retail NI ‘disappointed’ over Rates Relief Scheme suspension

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Wednesday, August 30th, 2017

Retail NI has expressed disappointment with the news that the Empty Premises Rate Relief has been ‘effectively suspended’ as a result of the suspension of the Assembly.

The scheme gave business owners 50% rates discount if they opened a new business in premises, which had been vacant for more than a year.



This will result in the doubling of rates bills for many new start businesses.

Speaking to Newry Times, Retail NI Chief Executive Glyn Roberts said, “It is extremely disappointing that the Empty Premises Rate Relief scheme has been effectively suspended as a result of the Assembly being in limbo.



“The Empty Premises Rate Relief Scheme had helped establish 500 new businesses over the past few years. Retail NI successfully lobbied for this scheme as a measure to address the serious problem of local shop vacancies.

“Northern Ireland has the highest shop vacancy rate in the UK of nearly 15% and with this scheme being suspended, is going to have a negative impact on new business start ups,” he insisted.



“Our understanding is that Land and Property Services (LPS) is accepting applications but cannot process them in the absence of legislation. Legislation can’t be made for these because it is affirmative so requires a debate in Assembly.

“All Ratepayers are encouraged to make payments to their Rate accounts until any application is processed. If successful, and payments have been made, then a refund will be issued as soon as possible.



“Northern Ireland cannot go for much longer without a government in place. This limbo situation between devolution and direct rule is beyond a joke and is damaging business confidence.

Roberts added, “Retail NI would urge the political parties to find agreement as soon as possible and restore devolution.”


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