The Welsh Government must “avoid inflicting more damage on the rural economy” by bringing forward a detailed plan for supporting businesses worst affected by the businesses rates revaluation, a Welsh Conservative has said.

The call follows a warning from property experts that “shops could close up and down Wales’ rural high streets” because of a rise in business rates in April.

Nick Ramsay, Welsh Conservative Shadow Secretary for Finance, said that businesses were holding back on signing their leases because they were unsure whether they could afford the rise in rates.

“Rural businesses have historically been dealt a bad hand by the Welsh Labour Government and this legacy looks to be perpetuated further by its handling of the latest business rates revaluation,” said Nick Ramsay AM.

“Welsh Conservatives have already secured an extra £10m to support the worst affected businesses through these changes, but we are still waiting for detail and cannot be sure we are out of the woods yet.

“Businesses are already holding back on signing their leases because of this uncertainty, with some facing the very real prospect of insolvency.

He added: “Unless the Labour administration want to inflict more damage on small Welsh businesses then it must give clarity over a long-term rate relief scheme. They should give serious consideration to reinstating the Retail Rate Relief scheme that provides high street stores with a £1,500 annual discount to their business rates bill.”

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