Northern Ireland Retail Consortium: Fundamental reform of the £588 million business rates system should be a top priority for next devolved government

LONDON, 2015-10-27 — /EPR Retail News/ — Fundamental reform of the £588 million business rates system in Northern Ireland should be a top priority for the next devolved government in order to encourage investment and sustain jobs, according to the Northern Ireland Retail Consortium. The NIRC has launched a detailed 8-page policy paper entitled Business Rates: Fundamental Reform in Northern Ireland, which sets out the need for reform and the principles upon which reform should be based.

Speaking at the launch, NIRC Director Aodhán Connolly, said:

“With the advent of the DFP consultation on a review of business rates in Northern Ireland there is the best opportunity in a lifetime to reform a tax that has a stranglehold on investment here. The current system of business rates has become a tax on jobs and growth and undermines investment in property, especially in town centres and high streets.”

“Whilst fundamental reform will not be easy, doing nothing on business rates could lead to Northern Ireland missing out on investment, career opportunities and innovation. After the 2017 revaluations in England, Wales and Scotland, it is possible that Northern Ireland could have the highest property taxes in Western Europe.”

The document sets out what the NIRC sees as the principal concepts of fundamental reform, namely that:

– Reform should mean that the system flexes in response to changes in the economic conditions
– Reform should mean that the overall tax burden is reduced so companies can invest in growth and creating jobs
– Reform should lower the administrative costs of the system and improve efficiency
– Reform should improve the transparency of the system and strengthen the link between the ratepayer and the services received
– Reform should support small businesses and ensure that they are not any worse off than under the current regime
– Reform should spread the tax burden more equitably across different industries and sectors

“Support for reform isn’t simply an issue for retailers but stretches right across the private sector.” Mr. Connolly continued, “Companies’ ability to invest is being held back by the prospect of paying more in business rates. As a result the additional jobs and careers that retail could provide are less likely to be gained.

“We currently pay double in business rates than we do in Corporation Tax and while the devolution of that tax will provide some certainty for future planning, the reform of business rates has to be a priority for the NI Executive and all of the political parties here. For there to be fundamental reform there not only needs to be ideas gathered in the form of the forthcoming DFP consultation but the political will to grasp this opportunity and make the hard decisions needed to ensure Northern Ireland is a competitive place not only to invest but to continue to do business.”

ENDS

Notes for editors:
1. Please find Business Rates: Fundamental Reform in Northern Ireland attached to the right

For media enquiries please contact Aodhán Connolly, Director, Northern Ireland Retail Consortium, on 07880 039 744 or email aodhan.connolly@brc.org.uk

British Retail Consortium, 21 Dartmouth Street, Westminster, London, SW1H 9BP. 020 7854 8900. info@brc.org.uk.

SOURCE: British Retail Consortium