Retail NI urges SoS and other councils not to raise rates as high as Belfast
RETAIL NI has urged the Secretary of State and other councils not to raise rates as high as Belfast.
The plea comes after Belfast City Council voted to increase the district rate for 2023/24 by 7.99 percent, sparking claims that the hike would "further punish" residents already enduring the cost-of-living crisis.
Rates have remained at under three per cent for seven years in Belfast.
The increase means a monthly increase of £3.13 for three-bed semi-detached properties, £2.05 for a terraced property and £1.98 for apartments, while retail properties will see a monthly rise of £42.14, and offices £51.44.
Today, Glyn Roberts, Chief Executive of Retail NI, said he had written "to all 11 council CEOs and engaged directly with NIO Ministers urging them to not to excessively hike the regional and local business rates.
"It is regrettable that Belfast city council voted through a rate increase of nearly 8 per cent," he said.
"In England small businesses are getting a 75 per cent reduction in their rates to assist with the Cost of Doing Business Crisis.
"Despite the UK Government giving Northern Ireland this funding as part of the Barnett Consequential, our local small businesses are unlikely to get a single penny of reduction in their rates bills with the money going instead into the Stormont black hole".
Mr Roberts asked: "Why should independent retailers and small businesses be so unfairly treated in comparison to their English counterparts?"
He added: "Energy bill increases, labour shortages, business rate hikes, inflation, and falling consumer confidence are all risking the business climate of Northern Ireland.
"Fears that many will simply go under in the next months without government assistance are keenly felt with this perfect storm of high business costs".