A diverse range of business organisations have united to call on the leaders of the local political parties to support their call for the regional rate in Northern Ireland to be frozen.
The Director of the Northern Ireland Retail Consortium Neil Johnston led the appeal.
“It is vital that government does not add to the cost of doing business at this time. Putting up the regional rate will add to inflationary pressures which ultimately may end up hitting consumers.”
“Last year the Secretary of State, Chris Heaton Harris, stepped in late in the day and froze the regional rate. We need clarity sooner rather than later and that is why we have written to the five main political party leaders in Northern Ireland asking them to clarify where their parties stand.”
“We are appealing to them to back business and to publicly proclaim their support for a regional rate freeze.”
The regional rate is normally set by the Executive but in the absence of an Executive it was set last year by the Secretary of State, Chris Heaton Harris. The regional rate makes up one element of the rates bill levied on most businesses in Northern Ireland, the other part is set by the various district councils.
In recent years, the regional rate has been frozen just as the business rate has been frozen in England, Wales, and Scotland. A decision on business rates in England is likely to be announced in the Autumn Statement this week.
The campaign for a regional rate freeze is supported by the Northern Ireland Retail Consortium, the Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce, the CBI, Hospitality Ulster, Retail NI, the Northern Ireland Hotels Federation, the Horticultural Traders Association, the UK Cinema Association, RETRA (the independent electrical retailers association), the Booksellers Association of the UK and Ireland and UKactive (who represent many in the fitness industry).
“It is clear from the range of signatories to this letter that business in Northern Ireland is of one mind on the subject of business rates. Business needs the regional rate frozen so that we can continue to focus on what we do best; creating jobs, wealth and opportunity. We hope that all five of the leaders of the main political parties all equally unite in their desire to back business and publicly support a freeze.”