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Welsh business rates relief scheme only “a temporary fix” for Britain’s “most expensive” business rates

The Welsh Government have extended their high street rates relief scheme for a further year; but the Welsh Conservatives have said labelled it “a temporary fix” to pressures facing small and medium businesses in Wales.

The support for high streets will be very limited at 100% rate relief for retail properties, but only up to £9,100. Also, it does not address the fact that the Welsh rate multiplier is the most expensive in Great Britain at present. 

Currently, 51.4p in every pound of estimated rateable value is charged to businesses of all sizes, whereas England and Scotland split the multipliers depending on business size. Using the Consumer Price Index of 2.4%, the multiplier will rise further to 52.6p in April.

The statement, released today by Finance Secretary and Welsh Labour leader-elect Mark Drakeford, briefly noted that the Welsh Government was able to take this move due to a £26m consequential from increased spending by the UK Conservative Government.

It comes of tomorrow’s Assembly vote on increasing the business rates multiplier to 52.6p in the pound.

Welsh Conservative and Shadow Business & Economy Secretary Russell George AM said:

“Wales continues to have the most expensive business rates anywhere in Great Britain.

“Our small and medium size enterprises are being strangled by the Welsh Labour Government’s business rates regime, and desperately need a government that supports them.

“The Welsh Government should adopt the Welsh Conservative policy of £15,000 for 100% rate relief for all businesses up to this rateable value. This is what is needed to provide the wealth and job creators of Wales with what they need.”

Recent figures for last month show that retail footfall fell by 3.1% in Wales in November, with the worst drop in the week of Black Friday when shopper numbers fell -4.5%.

Permanent business rates relief details:

  • Wales (Small Business Rate Relief) – up to £6k for 100% relief tapered to 0% at £12,000
  • England (Small Business Rate Relief) – up to £12k for 100% business rates relief tapered to 0% at £15,000
  • Scotland (Small Business Bonus Scheme) – up to £15k for 100% business rates relief, 25% at £18,000, then 25% relief between £18k and £35k on individual properties each with a rateable value of up to £18k.