Businesses unlikely to get an idea of rates bill until next month

Many businesses are anticipating a rise in their rates bills
Ryan McAleer

BUSINESSES in the north are unlikely to get an idea of their final rates bill until next month.

The 11 councils have already announced their non-domestic rates. The Department of Finance was expected to announce the regional rate before the end of February.

Both rates are combined with net annual value (NAV) to calculate business rates bills, due to be paid from April 1 2020.

However it's understood that the regional rate will not be struck until Stormont's budget is finalised at the start of next month.

Finance Minister Conor Murphy has previously said the Executive will publish a one-year budget ahead of the UK Budget on March 11.

But reports that new chancellor Rishi Sunak is considering pushing back the Budget could prompt further delays at Stormont.

Many businesses across the north are bracing themselves for a potential hike in their rates bill.

The recent revaluation of non-domestic properties resulted in a 6.8 per cent rise in the overall rateable value of the 74,000 premises assessed. Almost half of all properties (36,313), saw a rise in NAV.

Since the revaluation is not intended as a money raising exercise, in theory, the non-domestic rate struck by councils and the Department of Finance should be cut.

But only five councils have done so. The non-domestic rate struck by Belfast City Council (25.9166p) is 5.4 per cent down on last year, the biggest decrease in the north.

But with businesses in the city recording one of the sharpest increases in NAV, it's unlikely to result in lower bills.

Mid Ulster, which recorded the biggest growth in NAV, struck a non-domestic rate of 23.4749 in the pound, 4.6 per cent higher than last year.

Mid and East Antrim has the highest non-domestic rate in the pound (30.9186p), just ahead of Derry and Strabane (30.3794p).

Lisburn and Castlereagh has the lowest (22.6611p).

Finance Minister Conor Murphy has already ruled out transitional relief for businesses. But Alliance Party MLA Andrew Muir has called for that decision to be reviewed.

“I have met with some businesses affected and their representative trade bodies and there is genuine concern that some businesses may no longer be viable,” he said.

“Government needs to help our economy grow, not penalise it through unfair taxes.”

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