Posted on Wednesday 17 February 2016 by Ulster Business

Charities call on government to maintain rate free status

Representatives from the 13 charities which are call on the Finance Minister to retain the rate-free status of charity shops

Some of the main charities in Northern Ireland have joined together to urge the Finance Minister to ring-fence their rates bill.

They want Mervyn Storey to maintain the 100% relief on the business rates charged on their retail outlets, a loophole which was being threatened by a government review.

The 13 organisations - headed by Cancer Focus Northern Ireland, British Heart Foundation NI and Cancer Research UK – said removal of the rate relief could cost them £5.5m in total, money which wouldn’t be spent on the most vulnerable in society.

In addition, they said their charity shops boost local business, provide jobs and help tackle social isolation.

“Our shops create jobs, contribute to a thriving high street, and provide 5,400 volunteering opportunities, helping young people to gain important work skills and older people to combat social isolation,” Robin Osterley, Chief Executive of the Charity Retail Association, said.

“They also help attract visitors to the high street even during economic downturns, provide good quality products for local people on a budget, and divert over 21,000 tonnes of textile from landfill, saving local authorities very significant sums in landfill tax.”

 Under the worst scenario, where the rate relief was removed completely, Mr Osterley said the more than half of Northern Ireland’s charity shops would close.

“A 100% rates bill could result in 52% of charity shops closing with 409 redundancies and 1,862 volunteer posts lost.”


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