Business rates change announcement sparks jobs fear

Fears that local jobs will be lost through proposed changes in commercial rates are to be raised in a meeting today with the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, Phil Hogan.

Under the Government’s local government reform plan, ‘Putting People First’, commercial rates are to be equalised across each county.

Speaking in advance of its meeting on the matter with the Minister, the Association of Municipal Authorities of Ireland (AMAI) outlined its concerns.

“The move will cost local jobs as business-owners are forced to pay higher commercial rates,” said AMAI President, Councillor Willie Callaghan.

“As it stands, town councils can set their own rates. ‘Under Putting People First’, that power will be removed, and given to county councils which will set uniform county-wide rates. That will inevitably mean higher commercial rates for some towns. The result will be closed business and lost jobs,” he said.

In a meeting with Minister Hogan, the AMAI will warn him about the risks of implementing “Putting People First”, as well as outlining some of their own ideas for local government reform.

“Under Putting People First, there is a risk that money raised locally – through commercial rates, water charges, or the local property tax, for example – will be spent elsewhere. Our proposals for local government reform boil down to three things – increased local decision making powers, the return of local taxes to local areas and giving communities greater autonomy in developing their areas.”

“We have proposed the setting up of Municipal District Authorities to replace town councils. But they must have proper representation and responsibilities, including the power to make their own decisions particularly on how to invest money raised locally in local services,” Councillor Callaghan added. Business World