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Finance Minister must consider range of measures to assist businesses through coronavirus crisis

The Finance Minister must consider a range of measures to assist businesses encountering a downturn in trade as a result of coronavirus, Alliance Finance spokesperson Andrew Muir MLA has said.

North Down MLA Mr Muir said a number of businesses currently experiencing difficult times due to the spread of coronavirus, action from Conor Murphy such as deferring rates payments for the next few months would go a long way to protecting jobs and livelihoods.

“Whilst the Finance Minister has effectively ruled out replicating action being taken in relation to business rates in England, this must not preclude him from urgently bringing forward a number of initiatives, which can be swiftly implemented to give much needed assistance.

“They could take the form of a number of actions – a uniform drop in non-domestic rates payable or taking a lenient view on businesses struggling to pay, meaning either a rates holiday or a deferral of payments until the economy recovers from this pandemic. In addition, the planned Reval 2020 rates revaluation process could be suspended for sectors badly hit by the rises, such as hotels and hospitality.

“The Minister must act without delay if jobs and livelihoods are to be protected. The impact of the Covid-19 is already significant but with prompt policy decisions right now we can help workers and businesses get through this temporary crisis.”