Neil Hamilton, AM for Mid & West Wales and Leader of UKIP Wales, has welcomed news of continued support to help struggling High Streets.
Mr Hamilton, was commenting after Finance Minister, Rebecca Evans announced an additional £24.2m to support Welsh businesses in 2020-21 through the Welsh Government’s high street and retail rates relief scheme.
“I am delighted Welsh Government is extending this scheme for a further year. It is vital we continue to help small and medium business which are the life blood of our high streets. We must do everything we can to retain these businesses for the future.
“The whole system of business rates is no longer fit for purpose. In the short term, I want to see the burden shift towards larger enterprises and away from small businesses, especially those in rural areas who are struggling anyway to make ends meet. In the longer term, we need a fundamental reform of the system so that bills are more closely related to ability to pay, rather than an arbitrary ‘rateable value’.
“In the meantime, I will continue to back any moves to help our struggling high streets. In Wales, we are fortunate to have many unique, independent shops offering high quality items. But, for them to survive, we have to use and support them so I urge local people to buy local and use the shops in their community.”
The high street and retail rates relief scheme will provide support to over 15,000 small and medium-sized businesses in 2020-21.
It will be fully funded by the Welsh Government and will provide support of up to £2,500 towards the rates bills for retail properties with a rateable value of up to £50,000.
It will reduce rates bills to zero for retail properties with a rateable value up to £9,100 and reduce bills by £2,500 for properties with a higher rateable value.
As well as supporting retailers on the high street, the scheme will continue to support retailers in other locations. Ratepayers benefitting from the relief include those with occupied retail premises such as shops, restaurants, cafes, pubs and wine bars.
A further £2.4m will be allocated to local authorities to provide additional discretionary rates relief for local businesses and other ratepayers to respond to specific local issues.
The funding will be provided through the local government settlement, taking the total being provided to local authorities for discretionary relief to £4.8m for 2020-21.
This scheme will continue to be administered by local authorities on an application basis and operates in addition to the wide range of other support provided by the Welsh Government.