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Written Statement - Targeted High Street Rates Relief Scheme 2017-18

Mark Drakeford, Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Local Government

On 17 December 2016, as part of the final Budget, the Welsh Government announced an extra £10m to support high street retailers, including pubs and restaurants.

I am today setting out further detail about how this targeted high street rates relief scheme for 2017-18 will operate. This £10m scheme, which is in addition to the £10m transitional rates relief scheme for businesses whose eligibility for small business rates relief has been affected by the 2017 revaluation, has been developed in partnership with local authorities to ensure support is targeted at those high street retailers most in need of support.

The high street rates relief scheme will provide support of up to £1,500 on the non-domestic rates bill for eligible businesses with a rateable value of up to £50,000 in 2017-18.

Ratepayers who will benefit from the relief include those with occupied high street retail premises, such as shops, restaurants, cafes, pubs and wine bars.

To maximise the amount of support which can be provided and to ensure it is targeted at those areas and businesses affected by the revaluation, there will be two tiers of relief.

The first tier will apply to eligible high street retailers with a rateable value of between £6,001 and £12,000 who are in receipt of either small business rates relief (SBRR) or transitional rates relief.  

These ratepayers will receive a reduction in their rates bill of £500, except where this would reduce their bill below nil – in these cases ratepayers will receive a discount equal to the amount of their outstanding liability.

The second tier of relief will apply to eligible high street retailers with a rateable value of between £12,001 and £50,000 who have an increase in their non domestic rates liability on 1 April 2017. These ratepayers will receive a reduction in their rates bill of up to £1,500.  

This higher level of support reflects the fact these businesses are not entitled to other sources of government-funded support, such as SBRR, and may be facing substantial increases in their rates liability as a result of the 2017 revaluation, which has been carried out by the independent Valuation Office Agency.

Targeting support in this way means the support will be available to eligible businesses which see increases in their liability as a result of revaluation as well to those businesses on high streets where rates are falling but businesses are struggling as a result of economic conditions and competition from online and out-of-town providers.

The high street rates relief scheme is unique to Wales and will provide support to almost 15,000 small and medium businesses across the country in 2017-18.  

My officials have been working closely with local authorities to design the scheme and ensure councils are able to act swiftly to support businesses in their areas.  Accompanying guidance will be provided to support the effective administration of the relief and eligible ratepayers will be notified about their entitlement.

This new targeted scheme, together with our decision to extend the £100m small business rates relief scheme into 2017-18 and provide a £10m transitional rates relief scheme from April 2017, will provide vital support to ratepayers across Wales.  

Technical note

The eligibility criteria for qualifying businesses are listed below:
i. Hereditaments that are being used wholly or mainly for the sale of goods to visiting members of the public
ii. Hereditaments that are being used wholly or mainly for the provision of the retail services to visiting members of the public
iii. Hereditaments that are being used wholly or mainly for the sale of food and/or drink to visiting members of the public.

The relief will exclude:
i. Hereditaments with a valuation of more than £50,000
ii. Hereditaments not reasonably accessible to visiting members of the public
iii. Hereditaments that are in out-of-town retail parks or industrial estates
iv. Hereditaments that are not occupied
v. Hereditaments that are in receipt of mandatory charitable rates relief.