DUP MP David Simpson was delighted to host DFP Minister Hamilton in the constituency last week to discuss the rates situation across the Borough.
Land and Property Services have re-valued non-domestic properties across Northern Ireland, meaning that ‘new values’ will be used to calculate rates bills from April. This means that ratepayers will be paying based on their 2013 rental value as opposed to the last evaluation, which was back in 2001.
Following the visit, David Simpson commented: “The recent review in rates has caused great concern amongst business owners across the Upper Bann area. Certainly, in my opinion, it is those particularly on the periphery of the town centre that have received the largest hike in rates.
“It would appear, at a first look at many of those who have received a sharp increase, that an appeal may well reduce the rateable value because many did not return their rates review form back in 2013 and, as a result, their rates have not been based on their actual rental value. It is important that an appeal is submitted as soon as possible.” Mr Simpson continued: “I have to say I have been shocked and somewhat dismayed at some of the percentage increases and I have asked Mr Hamilton to look specifically at the issues raised with me on an individual basis. My fear is the further strangling of small businesses, which are already struggling to survive. I was, however, comforted that the minister assured he is fully intent on extending the small business rates relief scheme, and that the 50% vacant premises relief scheme will continue into 2016.
“I would strongly encourage business owners to appeal the new rateable value of their property if they have been affected adversely. At this stage, the Minister is monitoring the situation and working to try and help particularly small to medium sized businesses going forward.”