Posted: Mon 24th Jun 2024

Welsh Government commission London economic consultants to review business rates in Wales for people living in or visiting the Wrexham area

Rebecca Evans MS, Minister for Finance, said, “In 2022, I made a statement setting out a programme of non-domestic rates reform for the current Senedd term and consulted on a range of specific proposals for improvements. Most of these proposals are reflected in the Local Government Finance (Wales) Bill, which is currently being considered by the Senedd.

“As part of this reform agenda, I committed to undertaking a review of non-domestic rates reliefs. I am pleased to confirm that, following the outcome of a competitive procurement process earlier this year, a research contract has been awarded to Alma Economics to conduct this review.

“The Welsh Government spends over £250m annually on permanent non-domestic rates reliefs. In addition, we have provided more than £1bn in temporary reliefs since 2020, to support eligible business in the sectors most affected by economic challenges during that period.

“This review is being undertaken to provide an insight into the effectiveness of the considerable financial support offered to non-domestic ratepayers and to inform how the existing package of reliefs may be changed in the future. There are three core strands to the research:

“Principles – develop a set of key principles to guide future changes to non-domestic rates reliefs.
Practicalities – test and refine the developed principles, considering the practicality of the reliefs and their administration by local authorities.
Perceptions – consider the perspectives of current ratepayers and their representatives, to further test and refine the principles.
The review of reliefs will be completed over the next 12 months, culminating in the publication of a Government Social Research report. Stakeholders will be invited to engage with the review as it progresses, and I encourage participation where the opportunity arises.”

Welsh Conservatives were unimpressed at the timescales announced, with Peter Fox MS, Welsh Conservative Shadow Minister for Finance and Local Government saying, “You don’t need to commission a 12-month review to understand that struggling businesses the length and breadth of Wales are crying out for support now.

“The Labour Welsh Government has slashed business rates relief, unlike in Conservative-run England, effectively doubling the already highest rates in Britain for the Welsh retail, hospitality and leisure sector.

“The Welsh Conservatives would reinstate business rates relief at 75%, reversing Labour’s punitive tax rise.”

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