Wednesday, 10 July 2019
Local Government Rates and Other Matters Bill 2018: Committee and Remaining Stages
I understand the Minister's point but the level of rates can be different in local authorities. Some can be much higher, others can be much lower and some can be in the middle range; they all get their lists. In terms of the higher levels of rates, for businesses that may be under pressure or are closing, is it not better to work with and reach an agreement with them on rates rather than have a shop close on a main street? We need to consider talking to businesses.
Local authorities are not a bank. It is taxpayers' money. When we are dealing with business people who pay their rates we need to ensure there is a balance. If a business is not in a position to pay its rates - some are and others are not - there must be leniency shown and more discussion between local authorities. Everybody needs to work together in that regard. As other speakers said, some local authorities might have more correspondence with businesses than others and may meet with them but the Minister must make sure that local authorities work with businesses because we do not want to see businesses closed on any main street. Businesses are competing with online shopping, which does not involve paying rates. Many of my friends and other people I know shop online but I always ask them to support local, shop local. Businesses are now competing in an entirely new era in terms of shopping malls and online shopping. We must make sure that we look after business people by dealing with them and giving them the chance to phase in their rates payments if they are not in a position to pay them.