Archibald launches Back in Business rate support scheme

Date published: 15 May 2024

Finance Minister Dr Caoimhe Archibald today relaunched a rate support scheme aimed at attracting businesses into town centres and onto the high street.

Picture – (L-R) Colin Neill (Hospitality Ulster), Finance Minister Dr Caoimhe Archibald and Glyn Roberts (Retail NI) launching the new Back in Business scheme.

The Back in Business scheme offers businesses a 50% rates discount for up to two years if they move into vacant premises that have been unoccupied for 12 months or more and that were previously used for retail purposes.

Launching the scheme Finance Minister, Dr Caoimhe Archibald said: “All of us want to see our town centres and shopping areas thriving. The Back in Business scheme aims to help bring vibrancy, footfall and investment back to our high streets while providing businesses with a boost at the start of their business journey, helping to support jobs and bring long term vacant units back into use.

“The difference a bustling business can make to a once empty property on a main thoroughfare is striking.  I would urge anyone planning to start a business or expanding their existing business to consider setting up in an empty unit and avail of the rate support on offer through Back in Business.”   

Glyn Roberts from Retail NI added: “We welcome the restoration of the Back in Business rates relief scheme. It provides new start businesses with a much-needed fifty percent rates discount in their vital first two years of trading.

“The scheme also plays an important role in encouraging empty units to be brought back into productive use, boosting footfall and assisting High Street recovery.”

Colin Neill from Hospitality Ulster commented: "Hospitality Ulster welcomes the launch of the Back in Business scheme. As vacancy and dereliction have long been issues across the towns and cities of Northern Ireland, it is important to incentivise local operators to address this and, in turn, expand their offerings and contribute to the local economy. This is a positive step towards doing just that.

"This scheme has in the past shown what can be achieved when pressures on operators are lightened. We look forward to working in collaboration with the Minister and her department on this and on further work to reform business rates to ensure that we are doing all that we can to support not only new businesses, but existing ones too."

The Back in Business scheme is open to all business types and applications can be made online. Further information on how to apply can be found at  

Notes to editors: 

  1. Picture – (L-R) Colin Neill (Hospitality Ulster), Finance Minister Dr Caoimhe Archibald and Glyn Roberts (Retail NI) launching the new Back in Business scheme.
  2. The rates discount of 50% is granted for up to 24 months beginning on the day which the retail unit becomes occupied. The rate relief can be applied from 1 April 2024.
  3. The scheme is open for applications until Monday 31 March 2025.
  4. “Retail purposes” means the retail provision of goods or services to members of the public who visit the property.
  5. When the Back in Business scheme was last in place during 2022/23, 101 businesses benefitted from the 50% rate reduction support, the majority of which were small independent retailers.
  6. Media enquiries should be addressed to the Department of Finance Press Office on Tel: 028 9081 6724 or email
  7. To keep up to date with news from the Department you can follow us on the following social media channels:


  1. The Executive Information Service operates an out of hours service For Media Enquiries Only between 1800hrs and 0800hrs Monday to Friday and at weekends and public holidays. The duty press officer can be contacted on 028 9037 8110.

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