OVER 30,000 businesses in Wales and almost one million businesses in the UK have closed in the past three years, analysis by the Liberal Democrats has revealed, showing how Brexit uncertainty under the Conservatives is hitting our high streets.

It comes as the Liberal Democrats today (Saturday 7 December) unveil a series of measures to reverse this decline and boost small businesses, to mark Small Business Saturday.

Figures from the ONS show that 31,080 businesses in Wales and 978,285 businesses across the UK closed their doors between 2016-2018.

This is an increase of almost 18% in Wales and of almost a third (28%) across the UK compared to the three previous years.

The Federation of Small Businesses has warned that a no deal Brexit, which Boris Johnson has repeatedly refused to rule out, would mean more damage to firms.

Firms are also being held back by the Conservative government’s new taxes on the self-employed that business groups have described as “disastrous”.

The Welsh Liberal Democrats would boost small businesses by:

  • Prioritising small and medium businesses in the rollout of hyper-fast broadband
  • Toughening the prompt payment code to ensure small businesses are paid on time
  • Creating a new Start-Up Allowance, to support business owners with their living costs in the crucial first few weeks of starting a business
  • Reforming the apprenticeship levy by creating a wider “Skills and Training Levy” that targets 25% of the funds into areas with the greatest skills needs
  • Considering the implementation of a Commercial Landowner Levy to replace business rates.

Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Jane Dodds commented:

“Small businesses are the lifeblood of the Welsh economy and our high streets are the backbone of our communities.

“Despite this, too many small businesses are being failed by their government. Every business that shuts up shop represents jobs, investment and opportunities lost.

“Now the Conservatives want to plunge our businesses into even further uncertainty by pursuing a Brexit plan that risks us crashing out without a no deal at the end of 2020.

“The Welsh Liberal Democrats are proud of our unwavering commitment to supporting businesses across Wales. Our plans would stop Brexit, end the uncertainty and get back to dealing with the issues that really matter to small businesses.”

Liberal Democrat spokesperson Chuka Umunna, who led the campaign to introduce Small Business Saturday in the UK, said:

“Since its launch in the UK in 2013, Small Business Saturday has been an opportunity to celebrate the hard work of independent small businesses that contribute so much to their local communities. But it’s also a time to consider the challenges being faced by business owners and entrepreneurs who are struggling to keep their businesses afloat.

“This Conservative government has completely failed small businesses. Boris Johnson wants to plough ahead with crashing the UK out of the EU, which would mean even more damage to businesses up and down the country.

“The Liberal Democrats will rescue our high streets by stopping Brexit and introducing more support for entrepreneurs.”

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