Belfast Chamber response to Rates Review announcement by Permanent Secretary
Statement by Belfast Chamber
Rajesh Rana, President, Belfast Chamber has welcomed the Permanent Secretary at the Department of Finance’s announcement today of a full and comprehensive review of business rates.
“A fair rates policy with reductions for key sectors and a revaluation is something that we as a Chamber have lobbied very successfully on in the past and have a commitment to doing both now and in the future. Without Ministers in power this is very difficult which is why today’s announcement by the Permanent Secretary is so important and welcome.
“The businesses in Belfast City Centre contribute to 65 per cent of the rates income of the entire City Council. Across all of Northern Ireland business rates remain an unfair burden, particularly on retail and licensed premises.
“High levels of rates deter investment and actually reduce Council income because of vacancies. It stunts growth and prevents businesses from getting past start-up phase.
“In line with our Belfast Manifesto we recommend that a fair rates policy is introduced to stimulate growth by:
- encouraging more residential accommodation in the City Centre
- incentivising occupation of vacant buildings
- incentivising new development and capital investment
“In addition, the long proposed reduction in Corporation Tax remains an opportunity to attract business headquarters to Belfast. We now need to be planning for the early introduction of the Corporation Tax change as soon as power is restored. Each new business setting up home in Belfast will require top quality services, resources and support in our high quality and sustainable environment.
Rajesh concluded: “We call for a fair rates policy to stimulate investment and growth rather than being a burden which holds back job creation. Rates on businesses should not be seen as the easy tax for the Northern Ireland Assembly and support the Permanent Secretary’s endeavours.