A campaign has been started to support plans to extend the small business rate relief scheme in Northern Ireland.

A coalition of more than 31 business organisations and trader groups has published a five-point plan supporting the proposed extension of the scheme. The ‘Fair Rates For Small Traders’ campaign also outlines ways to fund the scheme, including a levy on out-of-town car parks and a revaluation of rates to ensure parity for out-of-town and town centre rates.

Under plans to address high street vacancy rates, the coalition proposes newly occupied premises retaining their 50% empty property relief for their first year. It also calls for ‘green rates’ to incentivise investment in green technology.

Speaking on behalf of the Fair Rates Coalition, Northern Ireland Independent Retail Trade Association (NIIRTA) chief executive Glyn Roberts said: “The Fair Rates Coalition believes that a fair deal in business rates, while not being a silver bullet, is essential for the future of our independent retail and small business sector. In our five-point plan we fully support proposals to extend the small business rates relief scheme.”