FSB Wales Calls for Business Rates Rethink

Press Releases 19 Jan 2024

Wales largest business representative organisation calls for business rates rethink

A shock fall in retail sales in the crucial Christmas trading period demonstrate the vulnerability of Welsh high streets and our retail and hospitality business so vital to our communities said Wales ‘largest business organisation’ today. Speaking following the release of figures from the Office for National Statistics showing a 3.2% drop in retail sales in December – a fall not seen since January 2021, Ben Cottam, Head of Wales at FSB, said:

“These are extremely worrying figures in themselves and demonstrate the immense pressure faced by hard working retail and hospitality businesses. Constrained customer spending caused by the cost-of-living crisis along with massive and sometimes intolerable energy costs and other inflationary pressures continue to squeeze Welsh high street businesses which were already reeling from the legacy of the Covid pandemic.  

“Given this backdrop therefore, it remains baffling why Welsh Government has made the decision in their draft budget to slash vital business rate relief support when businesses are so weakened, and we are calling on them to reconsider this decision to support Welsh small businesses on our high streets and help them plot a path to recovery. 

“The Welsh Government decision to reduce business rates relief for retail hospitality and leisure businesses in Wales from April announced in the Draft Budget last December is at odds with the decision to retain 75% relief for businesses in England for the coming financial year. 

“These statistics from ONS showcase what we can all see in our communities and what FSB knows from our members. We have all seen the stories of hospitality business closures, as hard-working owners face making painful decisions- affecting not only their own livelihoods but the livelihoods of those they employ and the viability and vibrancy of our high streets and communities.  

“We are aware of the huge pressures on public finances and difficult choices for government, but the Welsh economy nevertheless needs to be a priority, as do our smaller businesses. These businesses remain essential to every city, town and high street in Wales and need to be in the best place possible to help contribute to reinforcing those communities through these difficult times.”