Hamilton encourages take up of Empty Retail Premises Relief

Finance Minister Simon Hamilton MLA today encouraged businesses to make use of the Empty Retail Premises Rate Relief Scheme, introduced to help revitalise local towns and cities. 

Paying a visit to Gillian’s Barber Shop in Newtownards – a business that has recently availed of the scheme - the Minister said: “Over 200 businesses across Northern Ireland have already taken advantage of almost £1.1million of empty retail premises rate relief in the last two years. I am delighted to visit Gillian today to see at first-hand how these businesses are doing and how much vibrancy they add to our local towns and cities.

“The relief applies to all types of businesses, not just the retail trade. I would encourage businesses to start-up in an empty retail unit and take advantage of the Empty Retail Premises Relief to help establish their business.” 
The Empty Retail Premises Relief Scheme, which runs until 31 March 2015, was introduced in April 2012 to get long-term empty retail premises back into business use. The scheme offers 50% rate relief for up to a year once retail premises become occupied. The scheme applies to any business ratepayer who moves into premises, which were previously used for retail purposes and have been unoccupied for 12 months or more. 
Gillian McLaughlin, owner of Gillian’s Barber Shop said: “Without assistance from this scheme I would never have been able to start up my own business and now that it is established, I plan to develop it further including employing staff. I would encourage anyone thinking of setting up in business to consider doing so in an empty retail premises and take full advantage of the assistance on offer.”
To apply, a completed application form should be submitted to Land & Property Services, (LPS) with any supporting documentation required. An application form can be requested by calling the LPS helpline on 0300 200 7801 or downloading the form from the website:
Notes to editors:
1. The scheme will effectively allow for up to 50% rate relief for up to a year once a long term empty retail premises becomes occupied.
2. However, due to European Union (EU) state aid regulations there will be a threshold on the amount of relief. Therefore the relief awarded will be:
• 50% of the rates chargeable in relation to the net annual value (NAV) of the property; or
• An amount which does not contravene the EU State Aid thresholds.
3. The business will not be entitled to any other occupied reliefs or exemptions during the period Empty Premises Relief has been awarded.
4. Where the property is rented, and the landlord is liable to pay the rates, the landlord must pass the benefit onto the tenants.
5. Media enquiries only to DFP Communications Office on 028 9081 6724 or 028 9081 6725. Out of office hours please contact the Duty Press Officer via pager number 07699 715440 and your call will be returned.
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