Businesses Urged To Have Their Say on the Future of Rates

Local business owners with strong opinions on how the non-domestic rating system works are being urged to make their views known.

A 12-week consultation exercise on the future direction of business rates in the North is due to close on January 25.

The Department of Finance’s wide ranging review is seeking views on alternative forms of business taxation as either replacements or supplements to the current rating system.

West Tyrone MLA Barry McElduff has urged local businesses to use the opportunity to air their views.

“Rates is a huge issue for businesses and I am reminding local businesses in the Omagh district and throughout west Tyrone of an opportunity to register their views with DFP.

“The consultation is seeking views on how the non-domestic rating system currently operates. It also looks at the various reliefs that are in place and the length of time between evaluations and how ultimately rates are calculated,” said Mr McElduff.

Many local businesses experienced significant changes to their rates last year after the first revaluation of business properties in 12 years was introduced in April 2015. Non-domestic rates are calculated by multiplying the net annual value (NAV) with the rate in the pound.

There were some winners, including businesses in Omagh town centre, who actually experienced a drop in their rates bill.

However some local business owners have experienced rocketing bills.

Barry McElduff said he had been contacted by a number of local business owners seeking a new approach to rates. “Those businesses with garage forecourts seem to have been particularly penalised in the last revaluation exercise,” he said.

Mr McElduff said some local quarries had also been hit significantly since last year’s property revaluation. In one case, a business owner reported a 600% rise in rates since the revaluation.

Some night-clubs and major supermarkets experienced similar hikes.

In recent months, the MLA facilitated a meeting between Omagh Chamber of Commerce and Brian McClure, head of rating policy at DFP.

The Chamber has also made presentations to the Finance Committee in Stormont on the issue.

But Mr McElduff said he wanted other local businesses to have their say in the consultation, which ends in less than two weeks.

“What I’m hearing from businesses in towns and rural villages is that rates and energy costs are proving to be two of the big bill items that businesses find difficult to afford in an increasingly competitive environment.

“Whatever views those local businesses have, I’m encouraging them to submit those views to the Department of Finance by January 25.”

The consultation exercise can be viewed at