Just three months after it began, NI finance minister Sammy Wilson wants to assess how well the 'Tesco tax' scheme is operating and how much it is costing
Aug 8 2012
Finance minister Sammy Wilson wants to analyse which NI businesses are benefiting from his rates relief scheme
Northern Ireland’s finance minister Sammy Wilson is launching a review of the Small Business Rate Relief Scheme, otherwise known as the Tesco Tax, just three months after it began.
The minister said around 8,200 small businesses (10% of the north’s business premises) have benefited from a 20% discount on their rates sine April. However he still feels “there is merit at this early stage in analysing which businesses are benefiting from this relief," particularly given that those who occupy multiple properties are excluded from the discount scheme.
Some 24,000 businesses are currently receiving help with their rates, with an average annual award of around £735, paid for by just over 70 large retailers based in Northern Ireland with a rateable value of £500,000 or more.
Northern Ireland Independent Retail Trade Association (NIIRTA) chief executive Glyn Roberts said he was “very pleased with the positive feedback” garnered from the scheme.
“Some of our members have saved as much as £1,000 in their April rate bill, much of which has been re-invested into their businesses,” Roberts said.
He added that at a recent meeting with minister Wilson, the association encouraged him to “extend the scheme to £12,000 [net asset value] NAV” which would help even more small businesses with their rates bill.
A consultation exercise on the scheme which is expected to run until 2015, was closed in November 2011 and attracted mostly positive responses. Just 22 responses were opposed to the large retail levy; consisting of 13 firms including Asda, B&Q, Next and Tesco; one district council and eight organisations.
The Northern Ireland Retail Consortium claimed the levy would equate to the loss of around 400 retail jobs a year.
It is planned that the review will assess how well the scheme is operating and how much it is costing, and if “further refinements” can be made.