Finance Minister Máirtín Ó Muilleoir has today published a consultation paper on the package of measures announced on the 22nd November.
This initiates a nine week consultation period, ending on 16 February 2016.
The Minister said: “My Rates Rethink proposals are the biggest package of reforms to our rates system for a generation. I want to see a modern, fairer rates system, which encourages regeneration, investment and entrepreneurship, while at the same time discourages dereliction and decline.
“The changes I wish to take forward have fairness at their heart with everyone contributing according to their ability. They have three underlying objectives. Firstly, to spread the burden wider, secondly to be more discerning with the application of reliefs and allowances and finally, to use the rating system as a lever of social and economic development.”
The proposed measures include:
- A new £22million a year Rates Investment Scheme for smaller retail and hospitality business
- Piloting Business Empowerment Zones in two areas (Lower Newtownards and Lower Falls Roads)
- Increasing rates on empty commercial properties
- Charity shops to make a contribution
- Charging the highest value homes more
- Removing the early payment discount
- Reducing landlord allowances
- Student halls of residence to start paying rates
- A 3 year rates holiday for first residents of new energy efficient homes
The Minister added: “It is vitally important that we get these changes right for future generations to help build growth across our society and that’s where you can play your part. This consultation will give everyone the opportunity for their voice to be heard on these important issues.
“I would strongly encourage people to respond to this consultation so that collectively, we create a 21st Century rating system that is responsive to both the views of ratepayers and the needs of our public finances in paying for our public services. The consultation is now open.”
You can respond to the Rates Rethink consultation as follows:
- Queries and consultation responses should be sent to: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Written responses to: Rating Policy Division, FinTru House, 1 Cromac Avenue, Gasworks Business Park, BELFAST, BT7 2JA
The Rates Rethink consultation is now available on the department's website at the link below.
Notes to editors:
- The consultation period is nine weeks, which affords another week due to the Christmas 2016 break. The final deadline for responses is 16 February 2017.
- Virtually all the changes proposed in the consultation paper require changes to legislation, to be approved by the Assembly. For this reason the earliest the measures can start to be introduced is the start of the financial year after next,1 April 2018.
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