Monday February 20 2017
Welsh Government urged to delay introducing new business rates
An urgent call has gone out for the Welsh Government to hold back on introducing business rate increases in April.
The call comes from Neil Hamilton, Leader of UKIP Group in the Assembly and AM for Mid & West Wales after the Welsh Government announced further details of a £10m scheme to help firms cope with the changes to their business rates.
The Welsh Government revealed in December that the money would be available from April, and would help businesses whose rates are rising due to a re-evaluation of their premises.
Neil Hamilton has criticised the scheme and called for a delay on introducing the new rate increases to allow more time to examine the situation in further detail.
“It is all very well for the Welsh Government to provide extra money for a transitional relief scheme, but it would be far better to delay introducing the rate increases, which threaten to destroy small businesses in the parts of Wales which are worst affected.
“Over the past few weeks I have visited many medium and small business owners in towns across Mid & West Wales to discuss the impact of the proposed business rate increases being imposed by the Welsh Government.
“I was horrified to hear of some of the percentage increases which are being imposed and which threaten to destroy swathes of small shops, restaurants and other concerns. It is all very well to set up an appeal procedure, but the money has to be found in the meantime.
“A small business could well be forced to close before the cumbersome appeals process, which could take months or years, is completed. A rebate is not much use when one has gone bust.
“The whole system of business rates is archaic, grossly unfair and has long since outlived its purpose. Businesses should be taxed on profit and not on some notional rental value which takes no account of ability of pay. Business rates will be the death knell of the high street as we know it, while Internet sales, exempt from the tax, will continue to soar.
“In particular, the system takes no account whatever of businesses which rely heavily on seasonal trade. Many seaside and tourist towns may be booming from April to October but struggle to keep afloat in the winter months.
“I repeat my call to Welsh Government not to enforce the new rate in April and allow more time to examine the situation in detail, in particular the impact on small businesses in Mid & West Wales.”