‘Crippling’ hike in rates leaves pubs on the brink

A SELECTION of local pub owners are now facing “uncertain times” following the massive increase to business rates by the ‘Land and Property Service’ (LPS) across the county. 
Despite promises made by the LPS and the Department of Finance (DoF) to be “fair and effective” in the rebalance of business rates, the Herald has learned that some pub owners will be “hit harder than ever before” with increases of nearly 50%, raising concerns over what the future could hold for pubs across Fermanagh. 
Speaking to the Herald, one publican from the Lisnaskea area said, “This new process is nothing short of cruel and unfair to local people who are simply trying to earn a living. Business owners were all told by LPS that the new rates process would be fair and effective for everyone, but this could not be further from the truth. 
“My rates alone have gone up by £4,000 and it’s nothing short of crippling. How can any local businesses survive? 
“I know of pubs in larger areas like Enniskillen that hasn’t been hit at all by this, yet pubs in smaller towns like Lisnaskea who already struggle to keep their doors open are being hit harder than ever before. It’s unfair and not sustainable.” 
Another pub owner said, “The new increase to rates for only a half of the pubs in Lisnaskea is a complete joke. 
“This increase will effect things like my Sky and BT sports bills, in effect it will change my whole business plan and running costs, to a point were it doesn’t become profitable in order to keep the business going. Another vacant property will destroy this town.”
Sue Gray, Permanent Secretary at the Department of Finance said, “The revaluation means that from April, ratepayers will contribute to the funding of essential public services such as health, education and infrastructure. 
“A revaluation is not about collecting more money from businesses, but it is about ensuring that everyone pays their fair share.”

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The Fermanagh Herald is published by North West of Ireland Printing & Publishing Company Limited, trading as North-West News Group.
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