Proposals by the Department of Finance in Northern Ireland to make charity shops pay rates at 10% are supported by a significant number of third sector leaders, as long as the revenue raised goes directly towards developing entrepreneurship in the sector, a study reveals.
In proposals outlined in November, Finance Minister Máirtín Ó Muilleoir suggested that he would consider reducing rating relief on charity shops from 100% to 90%, and would be in favour of the income being used to support entrepreneurship amongst social enterprises.
According to the latest Ulster Bank and CO3 3rd Sector Index, published last week, half (49%) of almost 200 leaders in the sector surveyed said that they would agree with this approach. Thirty eight per cent said that they would disagree, whilst 13% said they were unsure.
Support for rating on charity shops drops considerably amongst respondents however if a commitment to direct the funding into the sector were not to be included. In this scenario, two-thirds would favour a continuation of full rates relief.
The Index also found that Northern Ireland third sector leaders expect economic conditions in Northern Ireland to deteriorate during the course of 2017:
- 59% expect the economy to worsen over the next 12 months
- only 13% expected it to improve.
Impact of UK Chancellor’s Autumn Statement
When it comes to the recent Autumn Statement by the UK Chancellor, over 70% believe it will have a negative (27%) or no (48%) impact on their organisation, whilst just 4% believe it will have a positive impact.
In relation to funding from government sources, one quarter (24%) of respondents said that their organisation had seen a reduction during the fourth quarter of the year. 66% said they had seen no change, whilst 12% said that they experienced an increase.
The Minister of Finance in raising the issue around charity shop rates also commented that it was important that there were not too many charity shops on the high street while agreeing the principle of giving them some advantage in relation to rate.
C03 is chief executive leadership organisation with over 500 members in Northern Ireland. It has been running the Ulster Bank & CO3 Third Sector Index for a year now, developing it a barometer of Northern Ireland’s Third Sector. It is a quarterly online survey of CO3 members who include the leaders of some of Northern Ireland’s largest charities and social enterprises through to small community groups.