Today an FSB delegation, including a diverse range of small business owners from across Northern Ireland representing multiple sectors, met with officials from the Department of Finance’s Rates Policy Division to discuss the ongoing consultation on non-domestic rates. Following the meeting, FSB NI Head of External Affairs, Roger Pollen highlighted areas where the fairness of the rates system can be improved. Commenting, Roger Pollen said: “Small businesses are at the at the very heart of local communities, creating jobs and opportunity and breathing life into our towns, villages and high streets, so it is crucial that their value is recognised and that they are supported. “More than two fifths of small businesses have cited the cost of rates as a barrier to growth or success, so this review provides an opportunity to look again at the system to see how it can be improved. “FSB led the campaign to have the Small Business Rate Relief scheme introduced in 2010 and have consistently lobbied for its continuation ever since. Rather than cause needless uncertainty each year regarding whether or not the scheme will be renewed, FSB is calling for the current relief to be embedded permanently. “FSB welcomes the positive engagement from Alan Brontë and his team in the Department of Finance on this extremely important issue.” Speaking after the FSB event, Alan Brontë, Director of Rating Policy who is leading the Business Rates Review at the Department said: “Since May, when a widespread review of business rate was announced the Department has been consulting with a wide range of stakeholders. “Northern Ireland is a small business led economy and it’s so important therefore that we hear the views of small businesses in this consultation process. Thank you to Roger and the Federation of Small Business for hosting the event today which demonstrates our commitment to listening to the views of all businesses right across Northern Ireland. “I would encourage all businesses to have their say by formally responding to the consultation so that collectively we can work together to ensure our rating system is effective, fair and supports a growing economy, while raising the funding needed for our public services.” The consultation is open until 11 November, to respond and for more information visit www.finance-ni.gov.uk/consultations/business-rates.