22 November 2016
DUP MLA Emma Little Pengelly has responded to the proposals announced by the Finance Minister on changes to the rates system. Mrs Pengelly is Chair of the Assembly’s Finance Committee which will be scrutinising the proposals.
She said, ‘The statement today opens a discussion on the future of the rates system. The proposals represent the views of the Minister and following consultation he will require agreement from both the Executive and the Assembly. The work that will be undertaken by the Finance Committee in scrutinising the proposals will be of particular value through this period of consultation and I look forward to that getting under way.
There is broad support for the principle of using the rates system to support and grow our economy. The DUP ensured that our economy has been top of the agenda within the Executive since the restoration of devolution and we want to ensure that we offer the best and most effective support, particularly to small businesses
There are obviously areas which, even in the initial responses to the document it was clear received general support across the Assembly chamber. Proposals such as the Business Empowerment Zone are likely to be supported by all sides of the house, even if some changes to the pilot schemes may be necessary.
As a party we are mindful about our long-standing policy positions in a number of other areas where the Minister has proposed change. We will listen to the views of stakeholders during the consultation process, but the Minister would need to present a very strong case in some of these areas in order to secure the necessary agreement.’
East Belfast MLA Joanne Bunting also highlighted changes to support for small businesses. “There are legitimate concerns that a system that is designed to support prosperity could penalise some small businesses to the benefit of others. This is an issue that will require more detailed examination through the consultation process, and particularly around how “retail” is defined within the proposed changes.”