Northern Ireland business bodies pledge support for rates scheme
NEARLY 30 business organisations and chambers of commerce in the north have pledged their support for a targeted business rates relief scheme for the independent retail and hospitality sectors.
A total of 28 trade bodies have supported the proposals outlined by the Northern Ireland Independent Retail Trade Association (NIIRTA), Hospitality Ulster and the department of finance.
The scheme will see more than £22 million in rates relief being given to small retail and hospitality businesses and will be debated in Stormont following the assembly election next month.
In a joint statement, the organisations and chambers of commerce urged cross party backing for the "business-critical" plan.
"These proposals are not just supporting the growth in retail and hospitality, but also given the independent retail and hospitality sectors' commitment to sourcing local produce," they said. "They are a real boost for the local supply chain and for the agri-food sector among others.
"Not only will this rate relief scheme be beneficial for many existing independent retail and hospitality businesses, it will potentially assist new-start businesses in our sectors with a substantial rate reduction, helping reduce their start-up costs.
"Businesses will have the confidence to reinvest the money that they will save on hiring new staff, further skills training and planning for the future."
The proposals will apply to those businesses with a £25,000 net annual value and below.
Among the supporters of the plans are Manufacturing NI, Food NI and the Ulster Chemists Association.
The coalition will be writing directly to the leaders of the Stormont parties seeking their backing for the proposals.