Storey encourages businesses back to the high street

Date published: 23 February 2016

Finance Minister Mervyn Storey MLA today saw first-hand how a 50% rate discount on empty premises is attracting business to a main shopping area.

The Minister visited Herbert Gould Home, an interiors store on Belfast’s Lisburn Road, which has benefitted from the Department of Finance and Personnel’s Empty Premises Rate Relief Scheme.

The Scheme offers 50% rate relief for up to a year once empty premises become occupied. The concession applies to any business ratepayer who moves into premises, which were previously used for business purposes and have been unoccupied for 12 months or more.

The Minister said: “This rate relief scheme is ‘made in Northern Ireland’. It has lead the way in the UK, with our policy being replicated in England, Scotland and Wales, helping to attract businesses onto the high street, into our shopping centres and towns. A 50% rate relief in the first year of trading can help local entrepreneurs, like the owner of Herbert Gould Home have the best possible start in their business venture.

“The occupancy of this shop unit by Herbert Gould Home will help to bring vibrancy to this area of Belfast.”

Mervyn Storey said: “Over 530 local entrepreneurs have benefitted from the Empty Premises Rate Relief Scheme since it was introduced in April 2012, which amounts to over £2.2million of rate relief during this period.

“This scheme along with the revaluation of business rates has helped to cut the cost of occupying vacant shops and business units in many of Belfast’s central shopping areas.”

Robert Brown, owner of Herbert Gould Home said: “Having access to a rate discount in the first year of trading has made a big difference to getting our business established on the Lisburn Road. I would encourage other entrepreneurs whether starting-up or expanding their business to take advantage of this empty premises rate relief to help get their business off the ground.”

The Executive has agreed in their one-year budget to extend the Empty Premises Rate Relief Scheme for 2016/17.

Further information on the Empty Premises Rate Relief Scheme including an application form to apply can be found at:


Notes to editors: 

  1. Media enquiries only to DFP Communications Office on 028 9081 6725 or 028 9081 6895. Out of office hours please contact the Duty Press Officer via pager number 07699 715440 and your call will be returned.


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