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    NI retailers criticise ‘chunky’ business rate hike

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    Northern Ireland retailers are calling on to reconsider “chunky” business rate hike that threatens to open up a yawning gap between the business rates multiplier faced by them and other businesses operating in England, Wales and Scotland.

    Reacting to the proposal that business rates be raised by 15 per cent as part of a Stormont finance deal the Director of the Northern Ireland Retail Consortium, Neil Johnston commented, “Business in Northern Ireland will resist both this ludicrously large increase in costs and any attempt to use the business sector as part of a political negotiation. It simply must not happen” 

    “It is ironic indeed on the day that it is announced that private sector jobs in Northern Ireland have reached all time high of very nearly 600,000 that the government should seek to effectively thwack the creators of those jobs and drag us into the political process.” 

    “In November NIRC led a coalition of 11 business organisations in a call for a regional rates freeze and that call has been endorsed by most of the main political parties.” 

    “We hoped to have had the support of the Secretary of State for that freeze as part of our efforts to bring business rates down into line with the rest of the UK. This proposed chunky hike threatens to open up a yawning gap between the business rates multiplier faced by retailers and other businesses operating in England, Wales and Scotland and what they pay in Northern Ireland. Indeed, we’ve yet to hear a convincing explanation as to why firms here in NI are better placed to be stumping up more in business rates than competitors or counterparts in GB.”

    “The Secretary of State appears to be trying to defy his own logic. Last year he froze the regional rate and less than twelve months later he is seeking an inflation busting and inflation stoking 15 per cent rise, well in excess of what the Chancellor has announced.“ 

    “It is sad to see what could have been a cross party consensus in support of freezing the regional rate dragged into the political arena. We hope the parties will discuss this matter with the Secretary of State as a matter of urgency and remove this proposal from their deliberations.” 

    “Freezing the regional rate is the best way to support businesses and ultimately consumers during what are continuing to be difficult economic times.” 

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