Last Autumn, the Minister established a Group under the Chairmanship of Professor Brian Morgan, of Cardiff Metropolitan University, to examine how the business rate regime in Wales could be used to encourage economic development and growth.
The resultant report ¬- Business Rates Wales Review: Incentivising Growth - contains 19 key recommendations which cover an array of issues relating to business rates in Wales.
Announcing publication, Mrs Hart told Assembly members she would be responding to the recommendations after consulting with Cabinet colleagues over the summer and after Professor Morgan had discussed the report recommendations with businesses and other key stakeholders.
Thanking Professor Morgan and the Group for their work, Mrs Hart said:
“I gave the Group a clear and challenging remit – to examine whether and how the business rates regime can be used as a lever for economic growth.”
She said there were some very clear overarching messages that provided the basis for 19 recommendations in the Report – focussing on what was realistic, practical and achievable.
Mrs Hart said:
“Given that many of the recommendations cut across a number of ministerial portfolios, we will need to respond as a Government. I have already written to Cabinet colleagues to set that process in motion.
“In addition, I have invited Professor Morgan to begin a dialogue with key stakeholders over the coming period. I want him to explain his findings and get feedback from a range of partners including the Enterprise Zone Chairs, Sector Panels and others.
“This Report is the start of a dialogue – not the end. I am confident it provides us with much to consider in addressing the challenges to create a better, more accountable and competitive business rates system in Wales.”
Professor Brian Morgan said:
“The Business Rates Report is the result of a collaborative effort by the Task and Finish Group to engage with the business community and to come up with recommendations that would support local development.
“At the outset the Report emphasises that the primary role of business rates is to raise funds to support the delivery of local services. In this context we have recommended localising the income from business rates to incentivise local authorities to increase their tax base.
“We have also emphasised that although business rates reliefs are an important part of the policy framework, they are not a panacea for economic regeneration. However, they can make a difference as part of a wider strategy to support the Government’s sectoral priorities, stimulate investment and generate competitive advantage.”