Commercial property taxes in the UK are the highest in the OECD. Retailers want to see fundamental reform of Northern Ireland’s annual business rates system in order to support investment, business growth and help revive our high streets – where one out of every seven premises is vacant.

We are pleased the devolved adminstration heeded our calls and commissioned the Rates Review last year. The implementation of the conclusions of the Rates Review must recast business rates for the decades ahead and deliver a system which is modern, sustainable and competitive.

A fully reformed rates system which flexes with economic and trading conditions and leads to a substantially lower tax burden would increase retailers’ confidence in investing in new and refurbished shop premises and help revive high streets and town centres.

At the heart of this agenda should be a medium-term plan to keep down the rates burden. Stimulating business investment is more difficult when costs are rising as it means diverting cash and resources away from growing the business.