Retailers propose alternative to North Ireland supermarket levy

Retailers in Northern Ireland have hit back at the Stormont Executive’s plans for a levy on large retailers, calling instead for a framework of business and local authority partnerships to fund initiatives to rejuvenate high streets.

Finance Minister Sammy Wilson launched a consultation last month on increasing the amount of rate relief for small businesses, which would be funded by a levy on the largest retail premises. The consultation will run for 16 weeks ending on Tuesday 18 October.

However, the Northern Ireland Retail Consortium (NIRC) has criticised the move, saying it will harm growth and job creation without guaranteeing that money will reach small retailers. It has suggested creating a series of Business Improvement Districts (BID) to work on targeted, specific projects in town centres, which will directly benefit local communities and trade.

Director of the NIRC Jane Bevis said: “Town centres do need reinvigoration and investment, but the proposed Large Retail Levy is a blunt instrument, which would do more harm than good. Enabling the creation of BIDs instead would allow retailers to get directly involved with specific initiatives.

“Major retailers already make sizeable contributions to the Northern Ireland economy through business rates and other taxes, as well as being major employers. Those contributions will continue and, given the right environment for success, will grow.”

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