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Independent retailers in Northern Ireland have cautiously welcomed the announcement that non-domestic rates are to be frozen for the next financial year and that businesses will still receive a three-month rates holiday.

Addressing MLAs at the Assembly, finance minister Conor Murphy said: “I do intend to proceed to freeze both domestic and non-domestic regional rates next year, which will help with the rising costs faced by families and businesses. Unfortunately, I cannot extend this to the three years as previously intended.

“I will also progress with the £50 million rate relief package to support a rates holiday for businesses. This will provide a three-months rates holiday for retail, tourism, hospitality, leisure, childcare, newspapers and airports which are the sectors hardest hit by the pandemic.”

The Fed’s Northern Ireland president, Coleraine store owner Joe Archibald, said: “The holiday and freeze on rates is much needed because there is still a lot of recovery to be done following the pandemic.

“There really needs to be a full review of business rates because they are scandalous in some cases, but any help we can get at the moment is to be welcomed.”

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