Following Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves’ announcement that any future UK Labour Government would scrap business rates in England, FSB Wales Policy Chair Ben Francis has today called for Welsh Government to follow that intention and set about devising proposals for reform of the system here in Wales.
Speaking following the announcement at the UK Labour Party Conference, Mr Francis stated:
“Earlier this year, Welsh Government announced that as part its response to assisting businesses to deal with the impacts of the Coronavirus pandemic, it would extend the business rates holiday until the end of the current financial year - beyond the support available in England. This was something for which we had pressed and a move which we warmly welcomed as it recognises very real financial pressures on businesses.
However, beyond this, the fact remains that Business Rates is an arbitrary and regressive system and is no longer fit for purpose. It hits smaller businesses disproportionately hard and before they’ve made a pound in turnover or profit. It is one of the major barriers to resolving some of the challenges we see on our high streets.
With the Shadow Chancellor signalling Labour’s intention in England yesterday, we would ask that Welsh Government indicate its own intention to do likewise and scrap the system here in Wales and consult on proposals for a fairer, more sustainable system.
Welsh Government’s focus on revitalising and reshaping our towns and high streets is very welcome. However, we can only begin to map that journey if the basic building blocks are in place which includes finally addressing this issue. This would provide reassurance for businesses on the high street and those organisations looking to move into our towns to take up the vacant space which is a blight on our high streets and dents the confidence of communities.
There is an opportunity now to move this conversation forward as part of a longer-term vision for recovery and a sustainable economy in Wales, rooted in building local economic communities and reinforcing the role of small businesses within those communities’