South East Wales

Rural business rates rise in Wales a threat to firms

Monmouth

Business owners have said they are under threat over what they claim are unfair business rate rises in rural parts of Wales.

Company owners in Monmouthshire said some are facing increases in excess of 130%.

They have told BBC Wales it is another "nail in the coffin" for many rural high streets.

The Welsh Government said it would be providing £200m worth of business rate relief next year.

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

It was last calculated in 2010 based on 2008 prices. The new rate is based on 2015 prices and will come into force next April.

The smallest businesses will not have to pay any business rates.

UK government figures also show that rates, on average, are set to drop in Welsh cities.

But figures from the Valuation Office Agency show rates are on the rise in more rural areas.

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Image caption All figures: Gerald Eve property consultancy
Image copyright Getty Images

Monmouth rare tea importer David Tovey said his business rates are set to rise by more than 60%.

"That extra £2,500 is probably going to mean either I'm not going to be putting food on the table, or I'm going to have to consider selling the business and at the moment that is more likely," he said.

Philip Ramsden, the proprietor of the Gatehouse Pub in Monmouth, said he was facing a rise of nearly 140% - an extra £15,000.

"I was enraged, because I was expecting some form of increases, but when I saw the actual increase in ours - that is non-viable," he said.

"We would seriously have to look at overheads and the only overhead is staff."

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Media captionMonmouth business owners tell BBC Wales rural rates rises will make things "very difficult"

David Cummings, who chairs the Monmouth Chamber of Trade, said he believed the Welsh Government should have done more to highlight the potential consequences of the rate re-valuation.

"The Welsh Government has been remiss in the way it's provided information to business organisations," he claimed.

"The results of the Valuation Office exercise came out on the 30 September, and I've had no communication from the Welsh Government since then. I believe they should have had somebody monitoring the results and identifying any problem areas".

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The Welsh Government has insisted it is acting to help businesses - especially smaller firms.

"Our Small Business Rates Relief scheme will save small businesses in Wales from having to pay £100m in tax in 2017-18 and a new permanent scheme will be introduced from 2018 onwards," a government official said.

"We also know business rates can represent a higher proportion of costs for smaller businesses - that's why we decided to act and announced a £10m transitional relief scheme, which will be available from 1 April 2017 when revaluation comes into effect."

The government said this cash was in addition to the £100m rate relief scheme.

A consultation on business rates in Wales is set to end on Friday.

"All organisations representing businesses have had an opportunity to comment on the scheme through our consultation," added the spokesman.

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