‘Commercial rates must be changed immediately’

Commercial rates legislation must be modernised, says a Cork County Councillor, who is appealing to Local Government Minister, Eoghan Murphy, to “expedite the proposed Consolidated Rates Bill”.

Midleton-based Independent, Cllr Noel Collins, says he wrote to the minister on foot of appeals “from very many businesses still struggling financially with the fall-out from the storms and floods that devastated east Cork in recent times.”

Cllr Collins says the rates system remains “undemocratic, outdated, and possibly unconstitutional”. He wants the proposed legislation introduced “sooner rather than later”, with ratings on business properties revised and a waiver system included.

Commercial rates are crucial for funding and for maintaining services and amenities provided by local authorities. The rates are worth €1.5bn a year.

Under the proposed changes, local authorities would have the power to slash or set rates to meet the functions of individual businesses.

The measure tailors the rate to ability to pay and incentivises streets, particularly across small towns and villages, by ensuring there is a variety of retail outlets and service providers.

Rates payers would pay their annual bill in two instalments. This will enable businesses to manipulate their cash-flow to suit their circumstances and spread payments over the 12 months.

Cllr Collins is pleased that the previous minister observed that part of the legislation “dates to the 19th century and is not suitable for the modern era”.

However, Cllr Collins is not pleased with the “slow progress” of change, warning: “Some businesses are struggling so badly that they may not exist by the time the changes come”.

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