Rating Policy

Part of Ministerial Statements – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 12:00 pm on 22nd November 2016.

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Photo of Máirtín Ó Muilleoir Máirtín Ó Muilleoir Sinn Féin 12:00 pm, 22nd November 2016

Thank you. Yes, we do need to look at that. It needs to be a fair system.

I have just noticed that we have a large group in — from Cullybackey, I think — the guests of Robin Swann. I hope that this is going to help villages as well.

I know that in Lisburn charity shops are part of the mix. I also know that it is the opinion of the charity sector leaders and businesses I meet that they should not be competing directly by selling new retail items from their shops. We need to get the balance right. If someone is paying full rates next door to a charity shop then it is our understanding that the charity shop should be selling goods that are not in direct competition. I think that it breaches the spirit of what we are trying to do with charity shops.

Let us look at it as we move forward. We should not exaggerate it either, Trevor. I am not sure that 10% is a stern or tough action but it is a positive one in that we are saying, "Look, you're occupying a productive asset and we think you should make a contribution".

I have one last point: there are unscrupulous landlords who dodge the empty property rate by putting a charity into the shop, but they do not reduce the rent by one penny. I am amazed at charities across this town that are paying full price for the properties they occupy. I always thought that the landlords made people a deal. In fact, what they do is that he or she dodges the 50% empty property rate and then makes sure that charities, which are sometimes maybe not as ruthless in negotiating as some others might be, pay the absolute full rent. For me, that also breaches the spirit of what we are trying to do.