Finance Minister Conor Murphy has launched a revamped, more generous ‘Back In Business’ scheme offering businesses a 50% rates discount for up to two years if they occupy a vacant shop unit.
The Finance Minister hopes the scheme will give business owners who set up in empty premises help to get established in the first two years. “This rate relief scheme will help attract businesses onto the high street and into our town centres. This revamped scheme builds on the rate relief previously offered, and extends the relief for an additional year. This will be vital in boosting post pandemic footfall for all businesses, new and existing, and will help restore the vibrancy of the high street as shoppers, tourists and workers return to the town centres.
“I have seen the effects of the pandemic during visits to town centres in recent months and I hope this scheme will support the regeneration of our high streets, building up business occupation in these areas.”
The Scheme offers 50% rate relief for up to two years when empty premises become occupied. There are currently over 12,500 vacant business premises across Northern Ireland. The previous scheme, which expired in 2017, supported over 550 businesses. The new Scheme concession 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.
Minister Murphy adds: “There are many opportunities for new businesses to move into their first premises and for existing businesses to expand. With over 12,500 empty properties available, I hope this rate relief will encourage businesses to take the opportunity, knowing they will have discounted rates to pay for the first two years.”
Retail NI Chief Executive Glyn Roberts said: “Given the huge challenge of addressing dereliction on our high streets, this scheme is both welcome and timely. It will incentivise and support new start independent retailers and other businesses with their all-important first two years of trading.”