Business

Northern Ireland firms urged to avail of 50 per cent rates relief

Finance minister Mervyn Storey is joined by Robert Brown, owner of Herbert Gould Home on Belfast’s Lisburn Road

MORE retailers should take advantage of a 50 per cent rate discount on empty premises in a bid to revive high streets, the finance minister has argued.

Mervyn Storey has commenting after a visit to interiors store Herbert Gould Home on Belfast's Lisburn Road.

The initiative offers 50 per cent rate relief for up to a year once empty premises become occupied.

The concession applies to any business ratepayer which moves into premises that were previously used for business purposes and have been unoccupied for 12 months or more.

“This rate relief scheme is ‘made in Northern Ireland’. It has lead the way in the UK, with our policy being replicated in England, Scotland and Wales, helping to attract businesses onto the high street, into our shopping centres and towns," he said.

"A 50 per cent rate relief in the first year of trading can help local entrepreneurs, like the owner of Herbert Gould Home have the best possible start in their business venture.

“The occupancy of this shop unit by Herbert Gould Home will help to bring vibrancy to this area of Belfast.

"Over 530 local entrepreneurs have benefited from the Empty Premises Rate Relief Scheme since it was introduced in April 2012, which amounts to over £2.2m of rate relief during this period.

“This scheme along with the revaluation of business rates has helped to cut the cost of occupying vacant shops and business units in many of Belfast’s central shopping areas.”

Robert Brown, owner of Herbert Gould Home added: “Having access to a rate discount in the first year of trading has made a big difference to getting our business established on the Lisburn Road.

"I would encourage other entrepreneurs whether starting-up or expanding their business to take advantage of this empty premises rate relief to help get their business off the ground.”

The Northern Ireland executive has agreed in their one-year budget to extend the Empty Premises Rate Relief Scheme for 2016/17.

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