Edwina Hart, Minister for Economy, Science and Transport
This Written Statement is to inform Assembly Members of the launch of a Wales Retail Relief Scheme.
I had previously issued a Written Statement confirming my commitment to explore the potential for a targeted fund to support businesses negatively affected by the deferral of revaluation.
Members will be aware that I have placed significant emphasis on examining business rates policy in Wales and the potential for this as a lever for economic growth.
We are therefore announcing a Wales Retail Relief Scheme along with a targeted fund to meet local needs as a result of the postponement of revaluation until 2017.
The Wales Retail Relief Scheme provides a discount of £1,000 on the yearly business rates bill for all occupied retail properties with a rateable value of £50,000 or less in the financial year 2014-15, subject to State Aid limits.
This introduction of this £11.5m Scheme responds to the findings of the Business Rates Task and Finish Group that the retail sector is changing and that targeted support could be directed towards that sector, particularly given the postponement of revaluation until 2017.
Properties that will benefit from the relief will be occupied business properties with a rateable value of £50,000 or less, that are wholly or mainly being used as retail premises, such as, shops, restaurants, cafes and drinking establishments.
In addition to this discount, I am making £3.5m available to local authorities to use their understanding of local need to support other businesses affected by the postponement or that contribute to local and regional economic development aims.
The enhanced option is unique to Wales and will provide critical support to business at this time. Grant offers have been made to every local authority in Wales and I hope that they are able to act swiftly to support business.
Funding will be made available to local authorities to market and administer the Wales Retail Relief Scheme and we will take steps at the national level to raise awareness. Local authorities will be expected to proactively approach eligible businesses.
These measures along with other recent actions on business rates such as extending Small Business Rate Relief and capping the business rates multiplier will inject money into the Welsh economy, promote jobs and encourage growth.