Ceredigion AM Elin Jones has described the Welsh Government’s announcement of the ‘Wales Retail Relief Scheme’ as a good first step towards reform of business rates. But the local AM warned that a longer-term commitment was needed to tackle the burden of business rates on small firms.

The Wales Retail Relief Scheme provides a discount of £1,000 for all occupied retail properties with a rateable value of £50,000 or less in the financial year 2014-15. Properties that will benefit from the relief will be occupied retail businesses with a rateable value of £50,000 or less, such shops, restaurants, cafes and drinking establishments. In addition to this discount, £3.5m is being made available to local authorities to use their understanding of local need to support other businesses.

Elin Jones has been campaigning in the National Assembly for a reduction in business rates, following representations from chambers of trade in Aberystwyth, Lampeter and elsewhere, and a petition by Cardigan Traders which was considered by the Assembly’s Petitions Committee.

Elin Jones said:

“This announcement is a good first step. Business organisations throughout Ceredigion have been calling for business rate help, especially as the Welsh and UK Governments had postponed the rate revaluation until 2017. This scheme, targeted as it is at small businesses, is to be welcomed.

“While businesses will be glad of the support offered by the Welsh Government, this falls short of the kind of full-scale reform that Plaid Cymru wants to see. There needs to be a longer term commitment, not just for one year, in order to create a business-friendly environment so that businesses do not need to rely on temporary relief schemes

“Plaid Cymru has called for the introduction of a second tier in the business rates system for large businesses, bringing Wales into line with other UK nations. Introducing the second tier will generate enough additional business rate revenue from large companies to fund a significant and sustainable cut in the lower rate, helping small businesses in all sectors compete and reducing the burden of red tape, potentially enabling expansion and further employment.”