Retail NI urges Secretary of State to intervene on rates relief schemes
Retail NI has written to the Secretary of State to urge him to intervene before two important Rates Relief Schemes, which require a technical vote in the Assembly, are due to fold by the end of this month.
The Back in Business Rates Relief Scheme, which gives new start independent retailers 50% discount for the first two years of trading, and the Rural ATM Rate Relief scheme are both crucial for many independent retailers.
Retail NI Chief Executive Glyn Roberts said: “Both of these schemes are in place to support independent retailers and small business owners and require an annual vote in the Assembly to be renewed.
‘Given the importance of both these schemes and with no immediate prospect of the Assembly meeting before the end of this month, we have asked the Secretary of State to renew both schemes through the House of Commons’
“With the Assembly not sitting both schemes will fold, which will have implications for new start businesses and rural retailers providing a much-needed service to the community.
“With dozens of ATM raids on our members and substantial rural bank branch closures in the last few years, this has resulted in a huge reduction in ATMs.
“Our members stepped in to provide ATMs to their local communities and the Rural Rate Relief Scheme assisted them to do so.
“If that scheme falls at the end of the month, we could see dozens more rural ATMs closing, putting further pressure on people on benefits and pensioners who use cash to budget. Access to cash will be severely limited in many rural areas.
“The Back in Business scheme provides much-needed support to many new independent retailers in the vital first two years of trading. Without this scheme we are concerned that further barriers will be put in place for new start-up businesses.
“Given the importance of both these schemes and with no immediate prospect of the Assembly meeting before the end of this month, we have asked the Secretary of State to renew both schemes through the House of Commons.”