The Northern Ireland Retail Consortium (NIRC) hit out at the Government’s plans for an extra tax on large supermarkets, called the Large Retailer Levy, which would be used to provide rate relief for small businesses.
But the NIRC is upset that the money would help 273 pubs and off-licences, 48 bank branches and 45 bookmakers and amusement arcades.
“Not only does it unfairly punish one of the sectors best placed to create jobs and attract investment, the funds raised won’t even reach their intended target,” said NIRC director Jane Bevis.
“The Executive is actually going to pick the pockets of successful retailers and pass the benefit onto banks, bookies and bars. These are not the businesses which will produce the rejuvenation our town centres have been promised.
“This evidence must make the politicians pause. They risk doing major damage to growth, investment and job creation in Northern Ireland by rushing into a poorly designed tax.”
However, the Pubs of Ulster trade group highlighted its recent survey that showed 210 pubs in the province were currently seeking to sell their pub and 120 were facing imminent closure.
“The NIRC has also failed to comprehend that pubs are legitimate small businesses that already pay a significant social levy, which supermarkets do not,” said chief executive Colin Neill.
“This alone puts pubs under significant financial pressure. Not only that, but they have has also failed to realise and understand the role pubs, and the wider hospitality sector, play in our local economy, with pubs alone employing over 35,000 people and generating £1bn for the local economy each year.
“This contribution cannot go unrecognised or unsupported which is why the extension to the Small Business Rates Relief scheme is vital.”