HC Deb 10 March 2004 vol 418 cc1497-8W
Mr. Trimble

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what assessment he has made of the impact the phasing out of de-rating on manufacturing industries will have on (a)revenue, (b)profitability, (c)costs and (d)employment within the industry; and if he will make a statement. [157272]

Mr. Pearson

Our assessment on the likely impact of the phasing out of industrial de-rating on the manufacturing industry in Northern Ireland (NI) came from a variety of different sources; for example, studies by DTZ Pieda, Invest NI as well as evidence presented during the public consultation exercise in 2002 by the Enterprise, Trade and Investment and Finance and Personnel Assembly Committees, the CBI and local economists. The policy paper published in April last year included the Regulatory Impact Assessment, New TSN and Equality Impact Assessments. All this evidence was summarised, analysed and considered objectively and the various options were discussed openly with representatives of the business community before a final decision was made.

In terms of revenue, the estimated long-term yield from the rating of the manufacturing sector is around £55 million a year and I refer you to my earlier answer of 23 February 2004, Official Report,column 165W, for fuller detail.

In relation to the specific impact on profitability, costs and employment within the industry, a sudden withdrawal of de-rating could have a potentially detrimental impact on manufacturing business and this is why it is proposed to phase the removal of industrial de-rating from 1 April 2005 with businesses not paying full rates until April 2011. This lengthy phasing out period should ensure that no sustainable jobs are lost. Furthermore, the intention to introduce a hardship scheme that will apply to all businesses where exceptional circumstances exist and work on Government proposals to reduce electricity costs for business are further mitigating measures which will help manufacturing absorb the removal of de-rating.

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