Businesses in Northern Ireland will not have to pay rates for the next three months.
And household rates bills will be deferred from April until June.
These are just two measures which have been announced by Finance Minister Conor Murphy as part of an emergency £100m rates package to assist businesses impacted by COVID-19.
All across Northern Ireland businesses, like others around the world, are being forced to close and are feeling the impact of the spread of the coronavirus.
Many have warned that they will not survive the financial fallout of this uncertain time.
In Armagh, on St Patrick’s Day, many within the hospitality sector closed in the interests of public and staff safety.
Now Minister Murphy said he was hoping to mitigate against the huge impact.
He was speaking today after Chancellor Rishi Sunak outlined a £330 package of Government-backed loans to see them through the unfolding crisis.
Minister Murphy said: “The Chancellor made a statement today and has signalled there will be further announcements in the coming days in relation to support for businesses.
“This is a fast-moving situation but I want to provide businesses here with as much certainty as I can, as quickly as I can.
“I am therefore introducing emergency measures to reduce the cost of rates on businesses at this very difficult and uncertain time.
“All businesses will pay zero rates for the next three months. This rates holiday will save businesses £100m.
“I am also deferring the issuing of rates bill from April until June to help businesses with short-term cash flow.
“As part of the budget I will now bring proposals to Ministerial colleagues for a reduction in the regional business rate. This will benefit all businesses.
“These emergency measures will reduce costs and help with cash flow during this extremely challenging time. These are initial measures and I will be making further announcements shortly.
“Rate relief alone will not sustain businesses and the jobs they provide. Everyone has to work together to get us through this.”
In addition to the measures for businesses, Minister Murphy has also announced the deferral of rates bills for households.
He said: “I recognise that this is also a worrying time financially for households. That is why I have decided to defer the issuing of domestic rate bills from April until June.”
The Minister encouraged anyone facing financial hardship to contact Land & Property Services.
He added: “If any ratepayer has a difficulty paying rates in the current circumstances, I would encourage them to contact Land & Property Services to discuss alternative payment plans.”
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