The Finance Minister, Conor Murphy, has announced a 12 month rates holiday for most retailers; hospitality; childcare; manufacturing; airports; newspaper production; and leisure and tourism businesses. Head of FSB Northern Ireland, Roger Pollen has welcomed the announcement, though called for the Executive to consider supporting other, additional businesses that have been similarly impacted.
Commenting, Roger Pollen, said:
“Rates are a regressive tax, which take no account of the current financial circumstances of a business. Given the unprecedented turmoil which many businesses have faced over the last twelve months, a hefty rates bill would simply have heaped even more pressure on struggling firms. It is therefore particularly welcome that the Minister has brought forward this comprehensive package of rates support, covering a broad range of sectors that have been most impacted by the economic fallout of the pandemic.
“While this approach is appreciated, the Executive should not rule out supporting those businesses that do not fall into these sectors but which may have seen income dry-up through the indirect impact of restrictions, and for which a rates bill may create significant financial pressure.
“We recognise that this policy was guided by evidence-based research from Ulster University, and if further evidence emerges that other businesses require support then the Minister should act on that also.
“It is also vital that the Small Business Rate Relief is extended so that the broad range of small businesses can receive some discount on their bills.
“As we look ahead to a more hopeful spring and summer, this rates policy, in tandem with continued grant support, provides a welcome support platform to help businesses return to prosperity once again.”