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First Minister bows to Welsh Conservative pressure on business rates

The First Minister, Carwyn Jones, appears to have buckled under Welsh Conservative pressure to introduce additional support for small Welsh businesses.

Welsh Conservatives have spearheaded calls for extra money to be made available to small firms affected by the recent business rate revaluations, with the Welsh Labour Government previously having refused to pledge additional cash.

The U-turn emerged during First Minister’s Questions this afternoon.

Andrew RT Davies called on the First Minister to announce additional support to provide small businesses with a “soft landing” when the rate revaluations come into force. Carwyn Jones confirmed that an announcement will be “made very soon” – see notes to editors.

In recent weeks, Welsh Labour have come under growing pressure for reneging on an election pledge to cut business rates for small Welsh businesses; a move whose impact has been even more keenly felt since provisional rates revaluations were published.

This morning, Shadow Economy Secretary – Russell George – called for additional support to end the uncertainty and worry felt by small businesses, in an article for the Institute for Welsh Affairs.

Andrew RT Davies said:

“I am pleased to see that the First Minister appears to have recognised our calls, because many small firms will go bust without additional support from the Welsh Government. But what every small Welsh business wants for Christmas is the tax cut Labour promised them.

“The Labour Party reneged on a key election pledge to support small businesses with a tax cut, and the recent rate revaluations have highlighted the plight faced by Welsh SMEs as a result of that business rate betrayal.

“It has become clear that the Welsh Government’s Transitional Fund doesn’t go nearly far enough for those firms facing a huge hike in their bills in April, and there just isn’t enough capacity in the system to handle the volume of complaints.

“We await the detail in this announcement, with optimism that the First Minister will take the opportunity to put things right.”

 

Notes 

Transcript from National Assembly for Wales’ early record.

Andrew RT Davies:

“Are you able to say whether the Government will be coming forward with an enhanced transitional relief programme for businesses here in Wales that have found themselves on the wrong end of the valuations that have gone out before Christmas, because once we get to the other side of Christmas, many of those businesses are going to be in a very, very difficult place? So we’d be grateful to get some clarity as to whether the Government are coming forward with an announcement to assist those businesses.”

Carwyn Jones:

“Well, this is something that we’ve been considering as part of the final budget, and an announcement will be made very soon in relation to that.”