Deputy Peter Burke and Minister for Social Protection Leo Varadkar.
Deputy Peter Burke, TD for Longford and Westmeath, has called on businesses to engage with the Valuation Office over proposed rate changes set to come into effect next year.
The Chartered Accountant says he has been meeting with businesses all week who are highly concerned about the affordability of the new rates:
“Letters were issued last week to all businesses across Westmeath, Longford and Roscommon and there has been huge shock over proposed changes. The letter itself was badly worded, with many business people mistakenly taking the figure quoted on the top of the page as their new rate; this is not the case.
"This figure relates to the adjudication of rent capacity for a business in a year. The new rate is then calculated by multiplying this figure by .2 ie a quote of €10,000 would have a rate of €2,000. The letter does not explain this appropriately and has made the situation worse for many confused and anxious business owners.
“I have been advising businesses that there is an appeals process and there are public meeting ongoing with officials from the Valuation Office who will answer any questions, both in relation to new proposed rates and appealing individual figures, with a view to possible reductions. In addition to this, specific appointments with the Valuation Office will be available in the Local Authority offices in the coming weeks.
“I know first-hand that there are businesses currently struggling to keep their heads above water and that increased rates would leave them little option but to close, which will have huge effects for people personally, financially and for employment and the community at large. At a time when live register figures are at an 8 year low, we cannot start losing jobs again.
“It is true to say that buildings have not been reviewed or valued since the 1860s, a fact that had to be addressed. But I am urging all businesses to engage with the Valuation Office and submit a considered appeal if you feel your business has been incorrectly valued. I am hopeful that detailed and genuine appeals will be considered and that fairness will be at the heart of the process.
“Please contact my office if you need further information or advice on this issue.”