THERE are fears local businesses could see an increase in their already crippling rates bills over the coming years, with a new review into property values currently underway.
Earlier this month the Department of Finance announced it was now working on a “non-domestic rates revaluation exercise.” Land and Property Services (LPS) are currently revaluing business properties, with the value of a premises used to calculate its rates, and the new valuation list is due to be used from 2020.
While the Department has insisted this was intended to ensure the system was fairer and remained closely aligned to market values, local businesses are worried about an increase in their overheads.
“Generally, in the past, this type of reassessment has meant valuations increasing, unfortunately,” said John Treacy from Fermanagh Enterprise Ltd who represent many local businesses.
“The other concern is that some of the breaks there are in rates, I’d imagined are being looked at as well, such as the Small Business Rates Relief scheme.
“Levels may well change and that would be a concern perhaps they my be removed or decreased. That would mean more of the small business sector would fall into a situation where they’re having a bigger rates bill.”
Mr Treacy continued: “Rates can be a significant expense for businesses, particularly start up businesses. Very often businesses don’t really see any direct pay back for that cost. All the other costs, such as rent and wages and so on, there is direct association with the overhead, bill or cheque they’re writing. That’s not always the case in rates.
“Certainly, the location of business is a factor as well. If they’re anywhere close to the high street, rates bills tend to be a fairly major part of the cost and are perhaps a major reason why many decide not to locate in maybe some of the vacant premises in towns like in Enniskillen and towns all over. The bottom line is, the idea of collecting rates is to contribute to the coffers of the exchequer, and while we talk about reassessment, very often reassessment is a way to seek an increase in the revenue for the exchequer.”
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