Business rates increases ‘hugely disappointing’ – NI Retail Consortium
The Director of the Northern Ireland Retail Consortium, Neil Johnston has described the recent rise in the part of business rates set by Northern Ireland’s 11 councils as “hugely disappointing”.
The average increase in the rate set by the 11 councils across the province is 7.29%, with the highest increase set by Belfast City Council at 7.99% and the lowest set by Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council at 4.9%.
Mr Johnston said these rates will “not help businesses or consumers”.
“I am left asking myself ‘what did we do to deserve this?’ The average increase in the rate set by the 11 councils is 7.29%. That amounts to a significant increase in costs for our members,” he said.
“Costs pressure can lead to price increases, and we know that is the last thing that consumers want to see. This move by the councils will not help businesses or consumers.”
Mr Johnston added it was “hugely disappointing” that NI business rates had not been frozen for the coming year, as they have been in England, Scotland and Wales.
“Retail Consortium members have invested millions in, and employ hundreds of workers in all 11 councils,” he said.
“We can only hope that the Secretary of State, Chris Heaton-Harris MP will follow the example of his ministerial colleagues in England and not increase the regional rate element of our business rates. That really would add insult to injury.
“Recent times have been very difficult for retailers – with the covid pandemic, energy price shocks and general inflationary pressures. The continuation of a freeze on business rates in England, Scotland and Wales is a welcome recognition of the fact that trading conditions are still difficult.
“As I said it is hugely disappointing that the councils have not been able to freeze their part of business rates next year.”
It is anticipated that a regional rate will be struck by the UK Government ahead of bills being sent out in April.