Committee Proposes Improvements to New Small Business Rate Relief Scheme and Large Retail Levy

Session: 2011/2012

Date: 07 December 2011

Reference: F&P 01/11/12

The Assembly Committee for Finance and Personnel today gave its views on proposals to expand the Small Business Rate Relief Scheme and introduce a controversial Large Retail Levy.

The report, which has been given to the Department for Finance and Personnel, includes a number of recommendations which the Committee believes will improve the scheme ahead of final decisions being taken by the Executive.

Commenting on the proposals, Committee Chairperson, Conor Murphy, MP MLA, said: “We are very aware of the difficult economic context in which the proposals are being made. Because of this, the Committee focused on ensuring that the support goes to smaller businesses which need it the most, while making sure that the burden on larger businesses is fair and proportionate.

“The Committee also wished to refine the proposed scheme so that large businesses which have multiple small premises do not benefit from this new scheme. At the same time we have identified ways of increasing the number of large business sectors which would fund the scheme, thereby spreading the cost more fairly. Some of the sectors that we believe should be included are banking and financial institutions, telecoms companies, wholesalers, large hotel groups and large retailers.

“In putting forward our recommendations, we have been careful to look at potential effects on consumer prices, future investment and job creation. It is our firm view that the proposals, while necessary, are a short term measure and that a revaluation of business properties must take effect in April 2015 to coincide with the end of the scheme and the levy. It is essential that we have a fair and transparent means of distributing the rates burden in the longer term.”

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