Business: Local firms are hit hard by sharp hikes
She was speaking this week, as it was revealed there was a five times increase in appeals lodged by local businesses against their recent rates bills which she claimed could have an impact on jobs and investment.
Mrs Dobson tabled a question to the Finance Minister in the Assembly.
She was told Land and Property Services (LPS) received 1,394 non-domestic appeals between April 1 and May 31 this year compared to 289 in the same period last year.
Mrs Dobson, said: “Many Banbridge businesses have been hit hard by sharp hikes in their rates bills and without help will struggle to pay this additional levy.
“Trends appear to be emerging with petrol station forecourts and small businesses located on the edge of town being amongst those hardest hit. For many these rises stretch into thousands of pounds and can mean the difference between taking on a new employee or deciding to expand their business.
“In some cases bills have risen by as much as 300 per cent in one year, leaving many to put on hold and reconsider their future plans.”
She went onto say, “These figures show that in increasing numbers local business owners are formally requesting a review of the Net Annual Value of their property following the non-domestic revaluation.”
Mrs Dobson has written letters to the Finance Minister on behalf of each company which has approached her because, she said, this issue raises serious concerns about local jobs and investment.
“Given the sheer volume of appeals being lodged with LPS I am concerned that the process will become drawn out and cumbersome and have written to the Minister to request that additional personnel are brought in to ensure this doesn’t happen,” the local MLA said.
“It would be a fatal blow to our economy if these sharp shocks become fatal blows to small businesses – that will inevitably lead to lost investment and lost jobs.
“What the Minister must remember is that a business which ceases to trade following unprecedented financial pressure cannot pay any rates at all. I want to see our small businesses allowed to grow and flourish, not be held back or forced to close because of crippling rates bills.”