The Environment Minister Edwin Poots confirmed yesterday that Business Rates in Northern Ireland will rise by an inflation busting average of 3.5% across Northern Ireland in 2010/11. However, companies in Belfast will see their rates bills increase by almost 5% (see summary of new rate poundages in “Stats & Facts” section).

Nick Rose from RHM Commercial commented that “many businesses across Northern Ireland are struggling for survival at present and this level of increase displays a blatant disregard for the current plight of the private sector by most Councils across the Province – only two Councils, Dungannon and Moyle, have shown that they understand the severity of the current economic situation and kept their District Rate Poundages at the same level as last year. By contrast, many Councils in the Republic have actually reduced their rate multipliers this year”.

“This situation underlines the urgent need for the introduction of a Uniform Business Rate (UBR), which would mean that business rates could not increase by more than inflation. Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK with no UBR” says Nick.

“It would require some re-organisation of the way that the total rates income from businesses is distributed to local councils but it would mean that Councils are required to control costs and think seriously about which of their services could be better delivered by the private sector. At present, we have a situation where the private sector is doing everything possible to cut costs but the public sector is not, leaving businesses to foot the bill.”