Business owners urged to apply for rates exemption scheme

PROPRIETORS of Banbridge businesses have been encouraged to benefit from an extension in the Empty Retail Premises Relief Scheme announced by Finance Minister Sammy Wilson.

A spokesperson for the Department of Finance and Personnel said to date no businesses in Banbridge had taken up the scheme which has assisted 52 businesses across 21 council areas in Northern Ireland.

“There has been no uptake in Banbridge, so we would like to make business owners aware of the scheme,” she said. “A total of 52 businesses have benefitted from a 50 per cent reduction on their rates totalling £143,000 since the introduction of this new rate relief in April 2012.”

The news was part of a package of measures announced by Mr Wilson, with the aim of helping hard-pressed business owners “in these difficult economic times”.

The Empty Retail Premises Relief scheme was due to end in March 2013 but will now be extended until the end of the current budget period in March 2015, subject to Assembly approval.

The Minister also announced his intention to extend the current 18 month developer exclusion applicable under the Rating of Empty Homes for a further 12 months as well as extending the exemption of rates for stand-alone ATMs in rural areas.

“The Executive recognises the difficulties that our local businesses are facing and are committed to helping them in these challenging financial times,” said the Minister. “As well as tackling the high number of vacant shops in our town centres, this scheme is also helping to create much needed employment.

“I would encourage anyone thinking of setting up a business in an empty retail unit to consider applying for this concession. Just ask Land & Property Services and they will be happy to advise you about applying.”

Further information about the Empty Retail Premise Scheme can be found on the nibusinessinfo website at http://www.nibusinessinfo.co.uk/emptypremises or by calling the Land & Property Services helpline on 0300 200 7801.