ISME calls for three year rates freeze
New councillors need to adjust SMEs' rates burden to reflect the reality of low sales figures, says ISME
30 May 2014
ISME, the Irish Small and Medium Enterprises Association has called for a freezing of all commercial rates across the country for three years. The call follows the release of the retail sales figures by the CSO on 28 May.
The association urged all newly elected councillors to deliver a reduction of the local authorities’ cost base in order to reduce or maintain current charges. This will allow hard pressed business a chance to survive while consumer spending remains low.
Retail Sales figures for April show a decrease of -0.9% in volume in the month and -0.8% in value. There has been an increase of 6.8% in volume and 4.4% in value in the year. When motor sales are excluded sales volume was up 4.6% and sales value was up 2.8% in the year.
ISME CEO Mark Fielding wants councillors "to create a long-term vision and work towards a return to bustling main streets rather than the high vacancy rates and poor footfall currently in place. The first action of all local councils should be the introduction of a freeze of all commercial rates and charges and the introduction of cost saving measures identified in the Local Government Efficiency Review Group report of 2010".
According to ISME, local councils can be advised and assisted by the Retail Consultation Forum to address the following:
- Local government value for money audits, shared services and pooling of corporate services identified in the Review Group report of 2010
- Excessive retail business costs such as commercial rates, development contributions and charges
- The surge in shadow economy
- The introduction of a Code of Practice, with an ombudsman for the sector
- A review of the effect of the abolition of the Groceries Order on prices
- Town centre revitalisation
- Social welfare anomalies and inflexibilities
- The lack of bank credit availability for retail SMEs
- Sector specific training