City rates relief total tops 1,600

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Over 1,600 premises in Lisburn have benefitted from the small business rate relief scheme since it was introduced.

This figure was revealed by Finance Minister Simon Hamilton MLA who outlined his plans to evaluate the scheme during a meeting with traders at Lisburn Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday.

The Minister highlighted the Executive’s support for businesses in the Lisburn area and said: “In the Lisburn City Council area alone over 1,600 premises have benefited from the small business rate relief scheme since it was introduced.

“The scheme provided much needed support to businesses throughout Northern Ireland during a difficult economic period. The scheme is due to end in April 2015 but I am taking steps to evaluate the scheme in line with the Executive’s Programme for Government.

“Preparatory work on the evaluation will start in the next few weeks.”

Welcoming the help received for small business in Lisburn City Council area, Jonathan Craig MLA said: “I know talking to local business owners in our city that the down-turn in the economy has had a major impact on their businesses and it is imperative that during these difficult times, Stormont does everything that it can to help and support small business.”

“When one looks at the figures from the Minister’s Department which reveal from 2011 up until January 31 2014 a total of 1,403 non-domestic properties in the Lisburn City Council area have benefited from the Small Business Rate Relief/Empty Property Relief Scheme and a further 823 being de-rated.”

Mr Craig added: “I believe from the Minister’s figures that Stormont has been listening, but more importantly delivering real help and support where it is needed most and another reason why having a local devolved Government can deliver for Lisburn and the Northern Ireland small business community.”

Mr Hamilton also confirmed the extension of further relief for hard-pressed house builders in Northern Ireland by continuing the initial exemption from rates liability for empty homes built speculatively during the property boom.

Belinda O’Neill, President of Lisburn Chamber welcomed the figures and the commitment of the Minister to re-assess the scheme beyond its April 2015 finish and reinforced its support for any initiatives assisting businesses in Lisburn.