New Welsh business rates scheme revealed

The Welsh Government has confirmed details of a new small business rate relief scheme that will come into effect in 2018.

The new permanent scheme will limit the number of properties eligible for small business rate relief to two per business in each local authority, preventing larger businesses and national chains from benefiting.

The Welsh Government said this move will allow relief to be targeted more effectively to support small businesses and release £7m every year to be re-invested.

Finance secretary Mark Drakeford also revealed that an extra £9m and £22m will be allocated in the final Budget in 2018-19 and 2019-20 respectively, to support the switch from RPI to CPI for business rates from April 2018.

He said: “This year, we have provided small businesses with more than £110m of support to help them pay their bills. Our permanent scheme, which will be in place from 1 April, will maintain this level of support from the Welsh Government.

“In line with our tax principles, the permanent scheme will target support more effectively towards those businesses which will benefit most – supporting jobs and growth and delivering wider benefits for our local communities.”

Ben Cottam, FSB Wales head of external affairs, welcomed the stability provided by the new scheme but said more action was needed.

“We would like to have seen the Welsh Government split the multiplier between large and small properties to release an estimated £9m a year which could have further supported smaller firms, making the system more progressive.

“It’s also crucial Welsh Government look at wider reforms to the rates system. In the budget last month, the UK Government pledged a move towards more frequent revaluations, which is something that FSB has been calling for in Wales for some time, and it is disappointing that there has been no movement on this. This is particularly important given that it could increase the responsiveness of the business rates system to wider economic conditions.”