Northern Ireland

Rates relief measures extended for NI businesses

Image caption The cash measures are designed to aid businesses and developers

Finance Minister Sammy Wilson has extended a range of rate relief measures for NI businesses and developers.

He has widened a scheme which gives new businesses a year's discount of 50% if the premises were previously empty.

That scheme has been extended for another two years to the end of this budget period.

Meanwhile, developers will benefit from an extension of a scheme to exclude them from rates on empty homes

Rates are now payable on empty homes.

However, developers have been excluded from these charges due the property crash which has left a number with large portfolios of unsold homes.

That exclusion has been extended for another 12 months and covers about 5,000 properties.

Also , in an attempt to encourage easy access to cash machines, a rates exemption for stand-alone ATMs has also been extended to the end of the budget period in March 2015.

Recently the Stormont Executive unveiled details of an extension to the Small Business Rates Relief Scheme which gives a 20% discount on rates to smaller premises.

Sammy Wilson said the measures were designed to assist businesses in a difficult trading environment.

He said 52 businesses had benefitted from the empty premises relief and the discount for small businesses would now apply to around half of all firms in Northern Ireland.