Rate relief scheme welcomed

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The Derry City Centre Traders Forum the Northern Ireland Independent Retail Trade Association have welcomed the new proposals outlined by Finance Minister, Sammy Wilson, for an extension of the Small Business Rate Relief Scheme, cross subsidised by a rates levy on out of town superstores.

This was a central policy objective for both NIIRTA and the Derry City Traders Forum.

Glyn Roberts NIIRTA Chief Executive and Martin McCrossan Chair of Derry City Centre Traders Forum in a joint statement said:

“We are delighted that the Finance Minister has listened to our concerns and adopted a key policy priority of both our organisations.

“Out of town retail stores enjoy a significant competitive advantage over town centre retailers with free car parking and improved transport infrastructure. In addition they are paying comparatively less rates than town centre retailers”

“This policy is an important step toward a level playing field between out of town and town centre retailers and will encourage retailers to locate their stores in town centres if they want to avoid paying more rates.”

Also welcoming the news was local Sinn Fein councillor, Paul Fleming.

“The new Budget agreed by the Executive contains specific measures which benefit small businesses in Derry,” Colr. Fleming declared.

“In particular, the small business rates relief scheme – which Sinn Féin lobbied for – will be retained and extended. This scheme currently benefits around 16,000 smaller businesses across the North which receive a rates reduction of up to 50 per cent. Under the new arrangements, it is expected that the number of businesses receiving it will be doubled.”

Colr. Fleming added: “What is truly innovative about this new scheme is that it will be funded by applying a levy on large out-of-town retailers.

“I am delighted that pressure has paid off and we have already been in discussions with the local city centre traders who are pleased at the progress that has been made.”