Retailers have called for a complete reform of the system local authorities use to collect rates.

According to Retail Ireland, the Ibec group representing retailers, more than €200 million is lost each year in local authority rates that go uncollected. The group say that a lack of consistency and clarity in how the charges are applied and collected is impacting Irish retail competitiveness and negatively affecting town centre renewal.

The group today launched a new policy paper ‘Tackling the Rates Burden’ in which they say there are ‘serious deficiencies’ in the current system governing how local authority rates are levied and collected, resulting in over €200 million in uncollected rates each year.

According to the policy paper, under the current system retailers who operate on a nationwide basis have to deal with 31 local authorities, most of which have radically different ways of operating. This makes business planning on a national level difficult and deters investment.

Retailers are also calling for a disassociation between rents and rates. Retailer say that linking the two charges has led to many retailers paying disproportionate costs as a result of upward-only rent reviews becoming increasingly common.

Retail Ireland have proposed that local and national government make the following changes in policy-

  1. Introduce a centralised collection process
  2. Stop linking rents to rates
  3. Reform the revaluation system
  4. Progress on local government reform
  5. Increase local property tax intake

Retail Ireland Director Thomas Burke said: “Local authority rates make up a significant portion of total input costs for Irish retailers. The current system is opaque, inconsistent, inefficient and expensive to operate.”

Mr Burke also said “Retailers have seen a significant increase in rates in recent years with very little return in terms of new service provision. This is of particular concern as retailers feel the pressure of rising costs across a range of other inputs such as labour, rent and utilities.”