In a letter to the Permanent Secretary of the Department of Finance the DUP MP specifically highlighted problems facing small business owners and called for an early payment scheme to be introduced for non-domestic ratepayers, in the same way that households benefit from a 4% discount for early payment. He also called for greater flexibility in payment methods, including the usage of credit cards for non-domestic customers.
Following the letter, Mr Campbell also raised the issue of early payment discount during BEIS questions in the House of Commons today.
Commenting, he said, “These are difficult times for both households and businesses, with rising energy bills placing a particular strain on many small businesses. Whilst rates are a necessary revenue stream to pay for vital public services, it is important that flexibility can be offered wherever possible.
Domestic customers can avail of a 4% discount on rates if the bill is paid in full within a set timeframe. Such a facility however is not available to non-domestic customers. Similarly households can use a credit card to pay a rates bill but businesses cannot, with the level of charges incurred cited as the reason for this.
Given the problems faced by small businesses at present, especially in relation to cashflow issues, I would hope the Department of Finance could look at both of these areas and provide greater flexibility for businesses. In relation to credit card charges, if a limit of around £3,000 were placed on it then it could be targeted to small businesses and the charges would not be significantly different than for most domestic customers.
Small businesses are the backbone of our economy, and if they are forced to close then rates payments will also be lost. We need to see flexibility and practical assistance offered to these businesses by the Department to help them navigate these testing times.”