Fermanagh South Tyrone Sinn Féin Sinn Féin -- Building an Ireland of Equals

Despair as Rates Bills Arrive with Businesses

Published: 6 April, 2015

Sinn Féin MLA Phil Flanagan has said that jobs will be lost and businesses will close as a result of the changes to non-domestic rates, which have manifested themselves in rates bills that have arrived with businesses this week.

Mr Flanagan has called on Finance Minister Simon Hamilton to explore the possibility of overhauling the non-domestic rating system in the North, with a view to relieving the pressures on those small businesses working on a very narrow profit margin.

The Fermanagh & South Tyrone MLA says:

"Numerous business owners from across Fermanagh and further afield have contacted me to express their anger and frustration at the significant increase in their rates bill as a result of this flawed revaluation.

"I recently hosted a meeting for businesses in Enniskillen to engage with LPS on this very issue.

"I am calling on the Minister to explore the possibility of an overhaul of the rating system with a view to relieving the pressures being felt by many SMEs.

"I believe that there is scope for the introduction of a form of progressive rating measures that are reflective of the ability to pay. This could be assessed on a number of criteria such as audited accounts, VAT returns or other methods of determining the profitability of businesses and organisations. Basing rates on the value of a property, particularly in a fluctuating market, is a regressive system in need of reform.

"The main sentiment expressed by those who have contacted me is around the unfairness of this re-evaluation. It is believed that there are major inequities in the distribution of the rates under re-evaluation which will hinder economic recovery.

"These inequities will force the closure of shops, petrol stations, pubs, hotels and restaurants who work on very narrow profit margins and the loss of a significant number of jobs in these sectors.

"The current system of basing such a substantial tax on the estimated rental value of a property is deeply unfair and I call on Finance Minister Simon Hamilton to review and reform the present system for assessing rateable value and explore more equitable and progressive ways of calculating business rates."