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"Non-Domestic rates review required" Flanagan

2 February, 2015 - by Phil Flanagan

Sinn Féin MLA Phil 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 call comes after Mr Flanagan hosted a public meeting in Enniskillen attended by representatives of Land and Property Services, to discuss the impact of the non-domestic rates re-evaluation on Fermanagh businesses.

The Fermanagh & South Tyrone MLA says:

“Numerous businesses from around Fermanagh were represented at the meeting and they were all equally concerned and frustrated about their rates re-evaluation. There are similar stories across the north.

“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 review.

“The discussion with the representatives from Land and Property Services was engaging and it was a good opportunity for local businesses to have their voices heard.

“The main sentiment expressed by those in attendance was the unfairness of the proposed 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 petrol stations, pubs and restaurants who work on very narrow profit margins. One local business woman revealed that she will have to increase sales in her shop by over £7,000 per week in order to meet commitments once the rates are increased.

“We also heard from a small restaurant/guesthouse owner in Belcoo whose rates will be equal to that of an Enniskillen High Street Bank.

“This is unfair and I call on Finance Minister Simon Hamilton to review the present system for assessing rateable value and explore more equitable and progressive ways of calculating business rates.”

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