Edwina Hart, Minister for Economy, Science and Transport
This statement is being issued during recess in order to keep Members informed. If Members wish me to make a further statement or to answer questions on this when the Assembly returns I would be happy to do so.
Business rates are now devolved to Wales. This is an historic milestone. Taking control of this tax in Wales brings both opportunity and responsibility.
I recently published the Business Rates Panel findings. These recommended short term stability in the business rates regime and emphasised the importance of maintaining a competitive offer to business.
I have already announced a number of measures to support jobs and growth. We have introduced the extension of Small Business Rates Relief until March 2016, and agreed to continue to place a cap on the business rates multiplier at 2% in 2015-16.
In addition to this, I am pleased to announce my intention to extend the Wales Retail Relief Scheme, the benefit of which will be increased to £1500 in 2015-16. This will provide much needed support for businesses right across Wales.
I will also begin work to look at the longer term recommendations made by the Business Rates Panel, including any changes that may be needed to other rate relief schemes. I will provide a further update to Members in due course.