Welsh Conservatives lead eleventh-hour charge against “crushing” business rate increases

A Welsh Conservative Assembly Member has led an eleventh-hour charge for the Welsh Government not to press ahead with a scheme which would see “crushing increases” in the payable rates for some businesses.

Only Welsh Labour members voted the scheme through with conservatives galvanizing cross-party support for an abstention.

During a debate on the Welsh Government’s transitional relief scheme for small businesses – designed to support businesses negatively affected by the upcoming business rates evaluation – Nick Ramsay AM called for the scheme to go further in its support.

Speaking outside the Assembly Chamber, he argued that the Welsh Government should consider raising the threshold up to which businesses can claim the full rate of business rate relief.

“This would allow many businesses to continue accessing full relief,” said Mr Ramsay, Welsh Conservatives’ finance spokesman. “As things stand, I will cite the example of an Italian restaurant in Abergavenny.

He added: “Its rateable value this year stands at £10,250.  Factor in the multiplier and the fact the rateable value is below £12,000, amount payable is £3,318. Next year’s rateable value is £26,750, with the amount payable being £13,348.

“These are crushing increases in rates payable and will cause many businesses to shut their doors. This cannot be right. Traders are already holding back on signing leases.  The economy is suffering.

“Yes we support rate relief and transitional rate relief, of course we do, but we cannot support the scheme before us.

“We would ask that even at this late stage the Welsh Government goes back to the drawing board on this one and develop a scheme that will be welcomed by all businesses and that we can all support.”

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