Up to £1.1 billion in business rates were paid on empty properties last year - a 19 per cent increase since 2009 - the Tax Payers' Alliance has revealed.
Retailers in Northern Ireland will now be required to charge customers at least five pence for each new single-use carrier bag under new regulations which come into force on 8 April.
A new allowance for employers' National Insurance contributions and an accelerated reduction in corporation tax to 20 per cent from April 2015 were some of the key announcements for businesses in Chancellor George Osborne's Budget 2013.
Rising business rates are the biggest concern for small firms amongst changes to the current tax system, a survey by the Forum of Private Business (FPB) has found.
Two leading business groups have called on the Chancellor to scrap the 2.6 per cent rise in business rates planned for April.