Finance Minister Arlene Foster MLA today announced the start of a consultation period as part of her Department’s Review of Business Rates in Northern Ireland.
The consultation period will last for a period of twelve weeks, during which stakeholders will be invited to provide input on the future direction of business rates in Northern Ireland. The review will also seek views on alternative forms of taxation as either replacements or supplements to the existing rating system.
An ‘innovation lab’, or policy symposium, on business rates was held in June. The lab provided a forum for stakeholders, including business, local government and the voluntary sector, to put forward their views. This helped to establish some key issues around the non domestic rating system, which are reflected in the consultation document.
Launching the consultation, the Minister said: “This review is a timely one, following the non domestic revaluation that took effect in April. It is something the business community and other ratepayers have been pressing for and the consultation paper, which sets out the issues and the case for change, has been shaped by business interests, as well as those of the voluntary sector and local government.”
The Minister added: “The overall objective of this review is to ensure that we have the best and most acceptable system of raising revenue to help fund our public services in the future. Informed decisions will have to be made by the next Assembly, so it is important that the voices of business and other ratepayers are heard, including those who currently benefit from reliefs and exemptions.
“This is not about raising more money – it is about how we raise a set amount of revenue for public services each year for councils as well as departments. Non domestic rating is a difficult and important subject for us all. Any changes that are made to reduce what some groups or sectors pay, will result in others paying more and I am acutely aware that there will be no single solution that will please everyone. However, we need to make sure the distribution system is as good as it can be.
“I encourage interested parties to engage with the consultation process so that we can consider ideas to improve the current system and any alternatives that might present themselves.”