Wales

Welsh Government pledges £10m after business rates increase

High Street shops in Cowbridge

An additional £10m will be made available to help firms cope with changes to their business rates, the Welsh Government has announced.

Finance Secretary Mark Drakeford said it will help shops, pubs and cafes.

Their tax bills are set to increase significantly in April as a result of a revaluation of their premises.

Monmouthshire council deputy leader Bob Greenland gave a cautious welcome, having previously said firms in the county face a big hike in rates.

"So the news is good but we cannot be sure we are out of the woods until we see the details of the scheme," he said.

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Media captionCowbridge business owner Sally Stephenson said her rates would go up by 400%

Mr Drakeford's announcement follows calls for more support to be offered to affected retailers.

He said: "Some retailers across Wales are seeing substantial increases in their rates.

"There are towns and communities which have been disproportionately affected.

"Equally, there are many high streets across the country where business rates are falling but retailers are still struggling.

"This targeted relief scheme will be in place by 1 April next year when the revised rates come into force."


Increase could 'kill the business'

In Monmouth, Gatehouse pub boss Phil Ramsden said his business rates would be increasing 130%, costing the business the equivalent of one person's salary.

He added that a "massive amount of extra turnover" would have to be generated "to pay that increase".

"That's going to have an effect on how we look to develop," he said.

Nearby Mon Teas, a loose leaf teas and tea paraphernalia seller, called the rates an "indiscriminate tax" on small businesses.

"They are based, in theory, on the ability to rent out a property at a certain level. It's not based on how much profit you make," said boss David Tovey.

His rateable value will increase by about 62% - an extra £2,500, which could, potentially, "kill the business", he said.


The new funding, which will be distributed by local authorities, is in addition to the Welsh Government's £10m transitional relief scheme and its Small Business Rates Relief Scheme worth £100m.

Business rates all over Wales and England have been re-calculated, with the new tariffs based primarily on how much a property would cost to rent.

The re-valuation, based on 2015 prices, was carried out by the independent Valuation Office Agency.

The pledge has been agreed with Plaid Cymru ahead of the Welsh Government's final budget.

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Media captionBreathing space before business rate rise, says Drakeford

Plaid Cymru's finance spokesman Adam Price said: "We have taken heed of the concerns of businesses, and urged the government to take action. We are glad that they have responded constructively."

Welsh Conservatives' economy spokesman Russell George said: "We are pleased that they have finally listened to reason.

"Hopefully this additional money will be sufficient to support companies facing a huge uplift in their tax bills."

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