Edwina Hart, Minister for Economy, Science and Transport
This Written Statement is to inform Assembly Members of the intended actions following the business rates announcements in the Autumn Statement.
As part of the Autumn Statement, it was announced that the Small Business Rates Relief Scheme, which has been in place since October 2010, would be extended into 2014-15 in England.
I can confirm that the Welsh Government is extending the Small Business Rates Relief Scheme in Wales for a further financial year so that the support is available throughout 2014-15.
We have consistently pressed HM Treasury to continue the Scheme, highlighting its value to small businesses in Wales. This was also highlighted by the Business Rates Task and Finish Group, which received broad support.
The scheme will continue to provide valuable assistance to small businesses across Wales. The qualifying criteria for the Scheme will remain the same as those in place at the moment and I will shortly be arranging for the appropriate regulations to be laid before the Assembly.
In addition, there was a further announcement in the Autumn Statement regarding a temporary business rates discount of £1,000 for retail and food premises for two years from 1 April 2014.
The Business Rates Task and Finish Group have produced a body of work which includes the retail sector and town centres and they have also have given consideration to impact of the deferral of revaluation.
Given their advice, I have already committed to explore the potential for a targeted fund to support businesses negatively affected by the deferral of revaluation. Therefore, I have asked my Officials to consider a range of options that are right for Wales.
I will keep Members informed of developments.