Monmouth and District Chamber of Trade and Commerce

Minister’s response to Chamber letter does not provide any new information

Minister’s response to Chamber letter does not provide any new information

Initial response to new Small Business Rate Relief (SBRR) scheme and reliefs announced December 2017 for Wales for 2018/19 and beyond

Mr Mark Drakeford AM
Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Local Government
Government
5th Floor Tŷ Hywel
Pierhead Street
Cardiff Bay CF99 1NA

Dear Minister,

Initial response to new Small Business Rate Relief (SBRR) scheme and reliefs announced December 2017 for Wales for 2018/19 and beyond.

Our Chamber wrote in response to consultation WG32525 on 10th October 2017, identifying areas where we believed businesses needed special support.

The information on the new scheme currently available to us from the Welsh Government (WG) is still in summary form and we welcome soon seeing the details of extension of the High Street Rate Relief Scheme (HSRRS) for 2018/19 and the £1.3 million discretionary support for businesses to be allocated by councils; reliefs which are most welcome to the operators of small businesses. As of today’s date we understand that our county, Monmouthshire, has not yet been contacted regarding these reliefs and we have some concern that this may mean reliefs may not be calculated in time for when business rate demands are sent out at the end of March 2018.

In the new scheme, we were disappointed that the top level of SBRR was not increased substantially, that there will be no special multiplier for small businesses, no abolition of the current business rate holiday enjoyed by landlords of listed commercial buildings, or that national charities will continue to receive a level of support of 80% on business rates. There was also no temporary support for new businesses not qualifying for Transitional Relief(TR) or HSRRS.

We believe that under consideration at WG is that national companies with multiple outlets , more than two per unitary authority, currently enjoying SBRR on individual properties,  will now be lumped together and rated as one. We welcome this development and hope the money can be used to enhance reliefs for small businesses.

As you are aware retailers in our towns face a substantial and growing threat from internet shopping; this is a threat that WG can do little or nothing to ameliorate. A second threat comes from out of town retail developments. Many retail businesses in Mid and South Wales fear the opening of the massive new Trago Mills shopping centre near Merthyr Tydfil this Spring. The completion of the Heads of the Valleys road improvements, although generally very welcome, due to reduced journey times will increase the radius of towns worst affected by the Trago Mills opening.

Small retailers, unless using a voucher system at a cost to them, cannot offer their customers free parking and as county councils must pay business rates on car parking spaces, assistance from them is unlikely. We would wholeheartedly support measures to make a more level playing field between small-town retailers and out of town shopping centres. One measure might be the imposition of business rates on parking spaces in out of town retail developments and supermarket car parks. This would however seem to depend on how the Valuation Office have valued a site for business rates.

Many of our small towns and rural areas are dependent on tourism for their survival. The threat of Brexit initially brought positive results for tourism, because of a decline in value of the £, particularly against the Euro. Now Brexit brings uncertainty, not only about the number of visitors arriving in Wales, but also about the threat to our hospitality sector that any reduction in the free movement of EU nationals would bring, whom we understand represent more than 20% of the hospitality industry workforce in Wales. Many of our hotels were hit by a 50% plus increase in their rateable value because of the VOA revaluation published in September 2016. Any special support for the hospitality sector WG can provide would be most welcome.

We applauded the motivation behind AM Eluned Morgan’s May 2017 document entitled “Draft -Rural Wales – Time to meet the challenge of 2025”.  We hope that WG can take this initiative forward and would make a plea that business organisations in rural towns are consulted in any study. Existing EU rural support schemes run out in 2020 and support, especially for rural towns,  was not included.

We very much look forward to your comments.

Many thanks

Yours sincerely

R D Cummings

David Cummings FIAB

PRINCE2 Practitioner.

Chairman, Monmouth and District Chamber of Trade and Commerce www.mdctc.co.uk

2012 Wales Quality Award Assessor

Singleton Court Business Park, Wonastow Road Industrial Estate, Monmouth NP25 5JA

Assembly Minister announces a new Small Business Rates Relief (SBRR) Scheme for Wales

18th December 2017

Assembly Minister announces a new Small Business Rates Relief (SBRR) Scheme for Wales Following a consultation on a new SBRR scheme for Wales from 2018/19 onwards this autumn, Minister Mark Drakeford has just announced brief details of the new scheme.

Our initial review of the new proposals is detailed below. However, until more details emerge of certain aspects of the new scheme and its reliefs, it is difficult to make a detailed assessment of the proposals. This review looks at the positives and negatives of the new scheme.

We are disappointed that the SBRR support levels have not been increased to those in operation in England and Wales. We regret that our proposals to see empty Grade 2 listed commercial premises have their eligibility to long term rate relief removed and to limit the level of support for business rate relief for national charities, have not been included in the proposals. Also, that the special relief for retailers with rateable values between £10,501 and £11,000 has not been continued.

We are pleased that the High Street Rate Relief Scheme will be continued for 2018/19, but at only half the level of financial support of 2017/18. We welcome some support for new businesses, which is yet to be defined. We agree with new legislation that national companies with multiple small premises should not be eligible for SBRR.

We welcome £1.3 million for local authorities to provide targeted support. However, with only approximately 4% of the businesses with Non-Domestic Rateable premises in Wales, the amount coming to Monmouthshire will be small.

We are pleased that there was a good level of response from key stakeholders to the consultation and that three of the Chambers of Trade and Commerce we engaged with during the consultation period, submitted comments.

In the statement it implies that legislation will be put in place in December 2017, but we note that the Welsh Government went into recess on 18th December until 8th January 2018. It is possible that some civil servants will work over the Christmas period, but likely progress in December would seem to be limited.

The Chamber has worked very closely with Monmouthshire County Council on the business rates issue since the September 2016 VOA revaluation and we have contacted them for their initial response to the new SBRR scheme.

R D Cummings
David Cummings FIAB.
Chairman@mdctc.co.uk
Monmouth and District Chamber of Trade and Commerce.

 

A New Small Business Rates Relief Scheme for Wales

Finance Secretary Mark Drakeford has announced that a permanent Small Business Rates Relief scheme (SBRR) will be introduced from 1 April 2018.The scheme will provide additional support for the childcare sector, increasing the upper threshold for rates relief for childcare providers from £12,000 to £20,500.  The scheme will continue to be developed to ensure it best meets the needs of Wales and, during 2018-19, the Welsh Government will additional relief for certain businesses, including:

  • £5m of support to continue the temporary High Street Rates Relief scheme into 2018-19.

  • An additional £1.3m funding to local authorities, for them to use their discretionary powers to provide targeted relief to support local businesses which would benefit most from additional assistance.

  • Targeted support for small hydropower projects.

A key aspect of the new scheme is the number of properties eligible for small business rates relief will be limited to two properties per business in each local authority.  This means big businesses won’t benefit disproportionately from the scheme and rates relief will be targeted more effectively to support local businesses.  This releases approximately £7m which is being reinvested in other areas of relief.  The Welsh Government’s intention is to take a progressive, fair and transparent approach towards local taxation in Wales which continues to provide vital funding for local services.  Delivering a permanent rates relief scheme for small businesses is a key step in delivering this.

Cabinet Written Statement

MDCTC Response to delivering a tax cut for small businesses

To download the FULL version please click here

New consultation on Small Business Rate Relief 2018-19 onwards

David Cummings, Chairman of Monmouth and District Chamber of Commerce (MDCTC) commented:

"The consultation document (see below) from the Welsh Government on a new scheme for Small Business Rate Relief (SBRR) was issued on 21st July 2017 with a twelve week consultation period. MDCTC will continue to work closely with Monmouthshire County Council (MCC) during the consultation process to come up with an appropriate response and a meeting is being planned for early September with the other business organisations in Monmouthshire to discuss the document . MDCTC and MCC will be comparing the suggestions made in the consultation document with the current SBRR systems in operation in England and Scotland. MDCTC is also in touch with business organisations in Brecon, Conwy, Cowbridge, Fishguard and Lampeter so that a pan Wales balanced view can be made on this new permanent system for SBRR for 2018/19 onwards, but one that includes the special issues affecting the businesses of Monmouth. In a letter to me of 11th July from Minister Mark Drakeford on the consultation, he indicated that although the new SBRR system would be permanent, the Welsh Government intends to keep the support they provide under review so they can be responsive to changing business needs."

Please click here to open/download the consultation document.

High Street Rates Relief Scheme

23rd March 2017

David Cummings, Chairman

The following document from the Welsh Government goes into more detail (than MCC covering letter document) on which businesses are eligible and which are not, for the Targeted High Street Rates Relief Scheme, which they refer to with the letters HSRR.

There is an example on page 9 of HSRR for Tier 1 and Tier 2 companies.

Please read page 10 carefully and only fill in the declaration and return it, if you do not want to receive HSRR.

To download the FULL version please click here