Lisburn City Centre Management and local businesses recently welcomed the Minister of Finance and Personnel at a Lisburn City Centre Partnership meeting to provide an update on the Small Business Rates Relief proposals currently under consultation.
Finance Minister, Sammy Wilson, launched a consultation at the end of June that proposes increasing the amount of rate relief for small businesses, which would be funded by a levy on the largest retail premises.
The proposals are intended to rebalance the rating system during the economic downturn, helping to create the right conditions for recovery. The measures include broadly doubling the amount of rate relief provided to small businesses, without it being a draw on the public purse.
Minister Wilson said: “The Executive wants to create the right conditions for a sustained economic recovery. The proposals in the consultation paper are about co-existence in the market place, not favouring small over large businesses.
“The downturn has been very difficult for most sectors of the economy but some have fared better than others during this period. The large retail sector is a case in point. I think it is right that additional small businesses get help and that this should be funded by asking the largest retailers to pay more. These two main changes, if agreed by the Executive and Assembly following consultation, would apply for three years. The measures would be redistributive in nature and broadly self funding. One policy is dependent on the other. There should not be any further pressure on the public purse.”
Alderman Allan Ewart, Chairman of Lisburn City Centre Management commented “This partnership meeting has provided a forum for some local businesses to find out more about the proposed changes to the current rates relief scheme and to have some questions answered. I would urge more businesses in Lisburn, to respond to the consultation – not simply to voice an opinion but to offer evidence of the benefits and drawbacks of the proposals. Lisburn City Centre Management is also completing a study into the affects any changes would have on city centre businesses and will be submitting this to the Ministers office.”
The consultation will run for 16 weeks ending on Tuesday 18 October 2011 so that the final measures could be in place from 1 April 2012 for a three year period through to 31 March 2015. More information available at www.dfp.gov.uk/consultation-zone