Rates relief measures would ‘complicate’

Lisburn Councillor Ronnie Crawford has warned that if urgent steps aren’t taken to address the rates burden on local businesses, the city centre will continue to decline.

Mr Crawford recently wrote to the Finance Minister, Simon Hamilton MLA, urging him to take action to help struggling shops in Lisburn City Centre.

In response to Mr Crawford’s concerns the Finance Minister said that adding in further measures would “complicate matters”.

Mr Hamilton said: “My Department is currently engaged in a full revaluation of all commercial property in Northern Ireland and this will help rebalance the system of business rates.

“I do not think we should complicate matters in the interim by looking at alternatives.”

He added: “In the Lisburn Council area alone, businesses have received over £2 million from the small business relief scheme and also nearly £5 million from industrial derating.

“In addition to this, the Empty Shops Rates Concession has provided support to seven new businesses in their first year of trading.”