This consultation is the culmination of a long process of engagement that stretches back to the previous mandate:
- most of the non-domestic reforms emanate from the review of non-domestic rating, which was the subject of a public consultation process that lasted from November 2015 to Early February 2016. Pre-consultation, that process was informed by an Innovation lab, attended by representatives of leading business organisations, the voluntary sector, local government, academics and other experts to help scope the review and establish some key principles for reform
- the replacement for small business rate relief was informed by the full policy evaluation completed in December 2014 by the Economic Policy Centre at the University of Ulster. This included a consultation and a series of targeted meetings with stakeholders. Following that process, the Department produced a discussion paper on potential options in March 2016 which was the subject of a targeted consultation until May 2016.
- the Department (then DFP) undertook another consultation in March 2016 for 12 weeks on changes to landlord liability and the halls of residence exemption. That consultation included a pre-consultation process with key stakeholders
- the Department undertook yet another public consultation in March 2016 on the issue of rate relief for sport and recreation activity. Although that consultation was in relation to new powers taken at the end of the last mandate views were expressed through that process (and a series of earlier consultations) which identified other issues which are the subject of the proposals set out in this current consultation.
- finally, the Department undertook a series of 12 week public consultations, three in total between 2013 and 2015, addressing issues around the affordability of the current suite of reliefs and allowance associated with the domestic rating system, given the funding shortfall imposed by the UK Government. The question of the cap and early payment discount was raised and commented upon by stakeholders groups, mostly from the advice sector. This consultation was not acted on given the impasse that existed here at that time around Welfare Reform.
The Consultation opened on 15 December 2016 and will close on 16 February 2017.