The two groups presented their plans to reform the Small Business Rate Relief Scheme to Finance Minister Máirtín Ó Muilleoir MLA during a recent meeting.
The plan was also outlined to the Chair and Vice Chair of the Assembly Finance Committee, Emma Little Pengelly MLA and Claire Hanna MLA. Ulster Unionist and Alliance Finance Spokespersons Philip Smith MLA and Stephen Farry MLA have also been briefed on the two business groups’ plan.
Hospitality Ulster Chief Executive, Colin Neill and NIIRTA Chief Executive Glyn Roberts said: "Our two organisations are putting forward a radical alternative to the current system of Small Business Rate Relief which will be targeted to the independent retail and hospitality sectors. Both sectors make a huge contribution to our local economy, town centres and tourism.
"Our members consistently tell us that their rates bill is a significant financial burden on their businesses, restricting growth and on occasions forcing them to close.
"It is time for real change in business rates. Given that Northern Ireland has nearly twice the UK’s national average of levels of high street dereliction, we believe our rates plan will address this problem and begin to reverse this decline.”
The groups propose a tiered system of reliefs ranging from:
- 100% for those with an NAV under £10,000;
- 50% for those with an NAV of between £10,000 and under £15,000 and;
- 25% for those with an NAV of between £15,000 and under £25,000.”
"The total cost of this relief would be £36m, which would mean that an additional £18m is needed above the £18m that it currently costs to provide Small Business Rate Relief," added Roberts.
"In order to fund this additional £18m we recommend that the Vacant Property Relief after 3 months should be reduced from its current 50% to 15%."