Wednesday, 28 October 2009

WAG is bad for business

Forty thousand businesses in Wales will be hit by higher rates next year, Welsh Conservatives have learned.

The Assembly Government's own figures suggest firms across the country will be hit with bigger bills from April, despite ministers claiming to help businesses during the recession.

Welsh Conservatives have also warned that a rise due to revaluation will come on top of a planned 1.5% rise in rates due to the Assembly Government's decision to phase in a 5% rise over three years.

Shadow Minister for the Economy David Melding AM described the Assembly Government's decision to lower the level at which business rates bills are calculated as "a smokescreen".

He repeated the party's call for the rates revaluation to be postponed until at least April 2011, and said ministers should consider Conservative plans to scrap or reduce the level of business rates for as many as 90,000 firms.

And he warned that the overall uncertainty about the impact of business rates next year was having a destabilising effect on the SME sector.

David Melding AM said:

By the Assembly Government's own admission 40,000 businesses will pay more in rates next year. Instead of helping small businesses during the recession Labour and Plaid Cymru ministers are making life more difficult for them.

The announcement to lower the level at which rates are calculated, while welcome, is nothing more than a smokescreen. If ministers really were on the side of Welsh businesses they would do everything in their power to postpone the rates revaluation planned for April and deliver a meaningful relief scheme to lift thousands out of rates altogether. They also need to end the uncertainty about the impact of revaluation and possible rates rise so businesses can plan for the future.

Businesses want real support from the Assembly Government at a time of economic difficult. I acknowledge and welcome the fact as many as 64,000 businesses could see a rates reduction next year. But for tens of thousands more their rates will rise.

For those businesses the increase will make life even harder as they struggle to cope with the impact of the recession. And for some it could determine whether or not they remain trading, lay off staff, or shut up shop altogether.

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