After a rates revaluation showed that businesses will pay more when the new super -Council launches in April, Newry Chamber of Commerce has called on local businesses to come together to ensure rates in the new council area are ‘fair’ and ‘accurate’. Over 30 local business representatives attended a Chamber hosted meeting with Land and Property Services (LPS) last Friday to discuss the Rates Revaluation announced by Finance Minister Simon Hamilton earlier this month and concerns were raised that ‘draft value’ rates – a new estimate of the property’s annual rental value (as of April 2013) – are excessive and don’t reflect businesses’ net annual value (NAV). Non-domestic rate bills are calculated on NAV multiplied by district and regional rates and are payable by all local privately owned businesses. As an example of how rates would go up the Reporter saw two revaluations of non-domestic properties in Newry – a shop in Mill Street and an office ion St Colman’s Park – and their draft value rates show rises in rental valuation of 17.83 per cent and 39.47 per cent respectively. The Mill Street shop’s current valuation is £12,900 but jumps almost 18 per cent. To £15,200 whilst the rental value of the St Colman’s Park Office jumps by almost 40 per cent from £11,400 to £15,900. A quick search of the Department of Finance’s Reval 2015 NI website also reveals that the NAV of Tesco on the Downshire Road will rise by 41.63 per cent from £800,000 to £1,133,000 whilst other city centre business units will see rent valuation hikes of over 80 per cent. The website says that ‘currently business rates are based on 2001 values after revaluation they will be based on 2013 values and that business rates will then be rebalanced because the proportion of the rate burden that each ratepayer pays will be shared out relevant to the current value of their property.’ It adds that ‘once complete the rateable value of all non domestic properties will be in line with property values as at April 2013 and that ‘this will restore the balance to the rating system.’ Chamber President Deborah Loughran said that they had hosted the ‘important meeting’ between local businesses and LPS top ‘shed some light on what the rates revaluations will mean for Newry businesses’. At the meeting concerns were raised by local businesses on increases in their rateable value, many highlighting that the new NAV for their businesses do not reflect current market rents,” she said. “In order to make a real difference and challenge the Department’s revaluation of Newry businesses NAV we need to compile evidence from the local business community on the rental of their property in 2001 when the last revaluation was carried out compared to 2013. We will use this information to support our lobby to have the Department of Finance reconsider their assessment of business rates in Newry. We would appeal to businesses to help us with this quest to ensure the final rates proposed for businesses in the Greater Newry Area are a fair and accurate reflection of current market conditions.” The Chamber has launched a questionnaire which states their concern that the initial feedback received from its members is that ‘the new NAV figures for businesses in Newry are substantially higher than the rental market values that prevailed in Newry in 2013. Should the proposed NAVs remain in place it will result in many rate payers paying substantially higher rates that there were prior to the non domestic rates revaluation. Businesses can download the short questionnaire from the Newry Chamber website www.newrychamber.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org “This information will then be collated and used to frame our challenge of the current proposals,” added Mrs Loughran.
26th November 2014