DETAILS of a £10 million relief fund for businesses hit by rates increases have been released today.
Eligible businesses will receive up to £1,500 off their non-domestic rates bill, after some were hit by substantial increases.
The two-tier scheme will support almost 15,000 shops, restaurants, pubs and cafes which have seen their rates increase as a result of the independent Valuation Office Agency’s (VOA) revaluation, which comes into effect on 1st April.
The first tier of relief will apply to high street retailers with a rateable value of between £6,001 and £12,000 who are already receiving either small business rates relief (SBRR) or transitional rates relief. They will receive a reduction in their rates bill of £500 or, if their bill is less than £500, it will be reduced to nil.
The second tier of relief will apply to eligible high street retailers with a rateable value of between £12,001 and £50,000 which are experiencing a rates increase. These ratepayers will receive a reduction in their rates bill of £1,500.
They will receive a higher level of support to reflect the fact they are not receiving other support, such as SBRR, and may be facing large increases in their rates following the revaluation.
It is estimated that this rate relief will benefit almost 15,000 businesses, and will be provided through a special grant made to each local authority.
Announcing the details of the scheme, Mr Drakeford said: “Some retailers across Wales are concerned about increases in their rates as a result of the VOA’s revaluation.
“This new scheme is in addition to the £10 million transitional relief scheme, which will also be available from 1st April and the £100 million tax cut for small businesses in Wales provided by SBRR.
“Work is already underway to develop a new permanent SBRR scheme for 2018. We are listening to the feedback we have received so we can make the scheme as fair, reasonable and transparent as possible.”
However, some argue that many questions remain over the scheme which is due to come in to force within weeks.
Responding to the announcement for the Welsh Conservatives, Monmouth AM Nick Ramsay said: “Whilst we welcome the additional funding there are still questions over eligibility, and in particular what constitutes a ‘High Street’, and it is far from clear that this money is targeted only at businesses who have been adversely affected by the recent revaluations.
“These schemes need to be in place within weeks, which puts local authorities under significant pressure.
“That’s why Labour’s painfully slow response to the revaluations has been so disappointing, adding to the anxiety felt by the worst affected.”