1.2k city firmsgot rate discounts

OVER one thousand small businesses in Londonderry have benefited from rates discounts averaging between £300 and £430 per year, it has been revealed.

A total of 1,242 small firms have benefited from the Small Business Rates Relief Scheme in Londonderry to date, according to Finance Minister Sammy Wilson.

It’s also been revealed that of 3,047 rates assessments raised in respect of non-domestic properties in Londonderry in April 2011 some or all of the debt was still outstanding for 469 properties and no payments have been received in respect of 210 of these.

Only in Belfast, Newry and Mourne and Lisburn did more businesses take advantage of the rates discount. In Limavady (415) and Strabane (525) smaller numbers also availed of the scheme. Across Northern Ireland the total number of firms to get relief was 23,728.

Mr Wilson explained: “The latest figures available, as at April 15, 2012, indicate that a total of 23,728 non-domestic premises have benefited (received a Small Business Rate Relief after other awards have been taken into account) from the Small Business Rate Relief Scheme.”

The figures above refer to the number of properties in each Council area that have benefited as a list of individual businesses could be provided as it may breach the confidentiality of individual ratepayers.

The Small Business Rate Relief Scheme is an initiative designed to provide some small business owners with rate relief.

According to the Executive eligibility is based on the net annual value (NAV) of each business property with two levels: business properties with an NAV of £2,000 or less; and business properties with an NAV of more than £2,000 but not more than £5,000.

Business properties with an NAV of £2,000 or less will receive a reduction of 50 per cent relief; whilst those with an NAV of more than £2,000 but not more than £5,000 will receive 25 per cent relief.

The Small Business Rate Relief will provide an average relief of between £300 and £430 per year.

Local firms will take whatever help they can get. The Sentinel recently revealed how over 800 business premises in Londonderry lay desolate in March.

There were 13 empty factories, 270 empty warehouses and stores and 167 empty shops.

A total of 817 unoccupied non-domestic properties were vacant here at March 18. This was up from 787 two years ago.

Of the current 817 unoccupied properties in the city six were advertising stations and signs, 13 were manufactories (down from 24 in 2010), six were non-sporting recreational facilities, 227 were offices (including banks and post-offices), 167 were shops, showrooms and supermarkets and 270 were warehouses, stores, workshops and garages. Ninety-six were unclassified.