ALMOST 800 small businesses within Magherafelt District have received rate relief in just one year, latest figures from the Department of Finance have revealed.
The statistics are in stark contrast to Cookstown council area where 566 traders availed of rate relief compared to 780 in Magherafelt since the scheme’s introduction by the government in 2010.
The Department of Finance and Personnel introduced the small Business Rate Relief Scheme after the onset of the economic downturn in a bid to keep struggling businesses afloat. Some traders have benefited from a 50 per reduction on their rates because of the scheme, which is based on the net annual value (NAV) of the business property.
The average relief to all businesses that qualify is between £300 and £430 a year. In answer to an Assembly question last week Finance Minister Sammy Wilson said that as of November 13th 2011, 23,789 non-domestic premises had benefited from the scheme, set to be rolled out for a further four years. Outside of Belfast, Newry and Mourne received the highest number of rate relief business recipients at 1,372.
The lowest was in Castlereagh where 389 small businesses received rate relief.
Glynn Roberts, Director of Northern Ireland Independent Retail Trade Association said it was positive to see so many small businesses in both Magherafelt and Cookstown receiving help with their rates.
“The rate relief scheme is awarded to businesses automatically who have a NAV of £5,000 and under, we are keen to see this extended to £10,000.
“It is an automatic thing where businesses don’t actually claim but have the reduction rate taken off their bill. The scheme helps with the burden of rates that so many small businesses find themselves laden with throughout Northern Ireland.
“It is certainly positive to see that so many in both Magherafelt and Cookstown are receiving this type of help from the government and we hope that this will continue.”
Magherafelt District Council Chairperson Ian Milne, said the figures reflected a positive and organised business outlook among the smaller traders in the District .
“The scheme is very beneficial to small businesses which are the lifeblood of the local economy,” he said.