Fianna Fáil Councillor and Chairperson of Dublin City Council’s Economic Development & Enterprise Committee Paul McAuliffe has called for a radical review of the rates system after it was revealed that over 35% of businesses in the city have fallen into arrears.
Cllr. McAuliffe commented, “The current rates system is a blunt instrument which does not allow the council incentivise small businesses and new start-ups. Rates bills are often the first to land when a new retailer opens their doors, effectively putting a stranglehold on them from the off. Smaller businesses are hardest hit by this regressive rates structure because any leeway the council has to reduce the rates bills is marginal and only benefits larger companies.
“New figures released to the council reveal that there are 7,410 businesses across the city, which have fallen behind on their rates payments. Over 60% of these have an annual charge of €5,000 or less.
“Many of the main streets across our urban villages are littered with empty and boarded up shops. Many of these businesses simply could not afford the large rates bills they were being charged and were forced to shut down. If we want to end dereliction and we need greater powers to promote economic activity and spread it across the city.
“The current structure only really benefits big business. Despite costing the city €83m in 2014, the marginal rates reduction has not made any real difference to SMEs. Last year the 0.5% reduction which was implemented in Dublin, would have resulted in a meagre €40 saving for an average €8,000 bill.
“We need to see the national rates legislation overhauled and to allow local authorities greater flexibility to apply rates how they see fit. Unless real change is brought about, we will continue to see businesses closing and the hearts of our urban towns and villages marred by vacant and derelict units”.