As members may be aware, the Department of Finance currently has a number of live consultations on revenue raising following instructions from the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Chris Heaton Harris. Part of this process includes a consultation on the removal of a series of rates reliefs including non-domestic Vacant Rate relief, Industrial Derating and Freight Transport relief.
NI Chamber intends to respond with an unequivocal statement supporting the retention of Industrial D-Rating and Freight Transport Relief.
In respect of Industrial D-Rating in particular, NI Chamber will be arguing in detail, that it must be retained on the following principal basis:
- 10x: The retention of Industrial D-Rating is consistent with the intended promotion, growth and protection of manufacturing as a key growth sector as identified in the 10x vision from the Department for the Economy.
- Post-Brexit Trading Arrangements: NI has always had the challenge as a UK region of being separated from GB, its largest market by sea, adding additional cost and complexity. Following UK exit from the EU, post Brexit trading arrangements have added further customs and regulatory costs, particularly for commercial processing as goods are typically considered “at risk of entering the EU single market”. What is more, as dual market access to the EU and the UK has been identified as a potential unique selling point for some (but not all) manufacturing sub-sectors, the removal of a favourable property tax regime is ill timed and undermines the NI proposition.
- EU Competition Approval: As the current relief pre-dates the requirement for EU Competition approval, if it were to be removed, it would be very challenging to restore it, with clear and lasting impacts on the NI advanced manufacturing proposition.
- Competitiveness: NI Chamber’s Q4 2023 QES survey revealed that the number of manufacturers concerned about increased competition had doubled over a 12 month period. It therefore follows that in addition to mounting inflationary cost pressures and trying to compete with more favourable migration and corporation tax rates in the Republic of Ireland in particular, removing industrial d-rating would be step too far for our manufacturing sector in such challenging times.
Please get in touch before Tuesday 6 February if you would wish to comment or support our submission. We would also like to hear from members currently benefiting from the vacant property relief scheme as soon as possible.
Further information, please contact our Head of Public Affairs, Stuart Anderson: