AM Raises Business Rates Concerns Again in Plenary

Local Assembly Member for Monmouth, Nick Ramsay, once again raised the issue of his constituent’s concerns over business rates and obtained a statement on the matter from the Welsh Government Minister for Finance and Trefnydd during an exchange in Plenary last week.

Nick stated: “I'm pleased that you recognise the struggles of our high streets and town centres. Those are well documented, and we welcome additional support for our high streets, because they are really suffering at the moment. The retail rates relief scheme needs to be more generous, because businesses need as much support as they possibly can get at this time. Will you look again at targeting support to those businesses in those areas that have been worst hit—in some cases, pockets of areas within otherwise more successful areas in terms of our high streets? I know that, when this was looked at a few years ago by the Enterprise and Business Committee, we exposed some of the issues affecting our high streets. Since then, of course, we have the issues with the rate revaluation, and pockets in my constituency, like Chepstow, were particularly affected.”

Rebecca Evans AM, Minister for Finance and Trefnydd responded: “We're really pleased to have introduced our permanent small business rates relief scheme. It's providing over £120 million of relief this year, fully funded by the Welsh Government, which, of course, isn't the case over the border, where you see some businesses, their contributions, being used to support other businesses. More than 70,000 ratepayers across Wales now receive some kind of relief, so that's half of all businesses in Wales paying no rates at all, compared to around a third of businesses under the scheme in England. So, again, I think that we've been able to offer a generous approach to small business rates relief here in Wales.

The  issue of revaluation for non-domestic rates—well, it's something that we clearly were working towards, bringing forward the next revaluation for non-domestic rates in 2021 rather than 2022. And bringing that date forward means that, obviously, we can produce bills that are based on more up-to-date market conditions, and, obviously, it enables those ratepayers to plan ahead. However, the suspension of Parliament in September means the necessary legislation fell at that point, and the decision then to reintroduce it will be a matter for the new Government. So, we're working very closely with UK Government officials to try and ensure that a legislative opportunity does present itself to legislate to undertake that revaluation as soon as possible.”