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Charities call on Executive to maintain rates bill exemption

Representatives of 13 charities deliver a 16,500-strong petition to the Department of Finance and Personnel yesterday. Picture by Mal McCann.
John Monaghan

REPRESENTATIVES of 13 charities across the north presented a petition to the Department of Finance yesterday calling on Stormont to maintain the rates exemption for charity shops.

The petition, part of the #MoreThanAShop campaign, has been signed by 16,500 people, with charities warning that a hike in their rates would mean they would lose £5.5 million.

Charity shops are currently entitled to up to 100 per cent relief on their business rates, but this is being reviewed by the Department of Finance with the possibility that the relief could be reduced or eliminated.

The 13 charities, which include Cancer Focus Northern Ireland, Concern and Oxfam, are calling on Finance Minister Mervyn Storey to ring-fence their rates bills.

Robin Osterley, Chief Executive of the Charity Retail Association, said: "Our shops create jobs, contribute to a thriving high street, and provide 5,400 volunteering opportunities, helping young people to gain important work skills and older people to combat social isolation.

"A 100 per cent rates bill could result in 52 per cent of charity shops closing with 409 redundancies and 1,862 volunteer posts lost."

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