Finance minister Conor Murphy has announced that the business rates holiday in Northern Ireland will be extended for a further 12 months for hospitality, tourism and leisure businesses.
This means Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales will all be offering businesses a rates holiday for a further year, while in England it was only extended until the end of June with a two-thirds ‘discount' for the remaining nine months of the financial year.
Colin Neill, chief executive of Hospitality Ulster, said: "This is really welcome news at a time when businesses in the hospitality sector are dead on their feet. They have either been closed or required to operate under the most severe restrictions of any business sector for nearly a year. The reopening phase, as outlined last week, will take months to get everyone trading again and most likely with restrictions in place.
"Hospitality businesses are burning up £1m a day to keep their businesses closed and will lose at least one-third of this year's turnover before they open. Further financial assistance in the form of a top-up grant and a refinancing grant to support reopening will be essential. The excessive debt burden that the industry now faces will mean it will be years until the industry returns to profitability.
"We would encourage the minister and the executive to examine these unique set of circumstances which impact the hospitality sector and make special considerations so that they can reopen on a sustainable footing and can actually benefit from the rates holiday."