Cross Party Group on Small Shops calls for focus on business rates

Original by Liz Wells, Talking Retail - https://www.talkingretail.com/news/industry-news/cross-party-group-small-shops-calls-focus-business-rates-06-06-2019/

The Cross Party Group on Small Shops has called on the government to focus on reforming the business rates system so that it encourages retailers to invest and improve their businesses.

 

The call came during a meeting in the National Assembly for Wales, which was attended by assembly members, Welsh government officials and independent retailers from across Wales. It heard from Rebecca Evans, minister for finance and trefnydd on what the Welsh government is doing to help small businesses with their rates bills.

Evans said: “Small shops make an invaluable contribution to the Welsh economy and communities, providing employment and offering a genuine alternative to what can be offered by larger businesses and national chains. The Welsh government is committed to supporting small businesses, providing over £210m of rate relief this year, and I am committed to working with the sector as we develop our approach to local taxation.”

Cross Party Group chair, Janet Finch-Saunders, added: “Business rates are the biggest fixed cost for many shops in Wales, especially those operating in local high streets providing essential services. While measures taken by the Welsh government to reduce the impact of rising business rates bills have been welcome, we need to ensure that the system allows retailers to grow in the long term.

“As we set out in the Supporting Entrepreneurship Inquiry last year, a business rates system that incentivises investment rather than punishing it is crucial to the survival and success of thousands of Welsh shops.”

ACS chief executive, James Lowman, said: “Creating an environment where retailers feel confident to invest is essential for convenience stores who are keen to expand into new categories and offer a wider range of services to keep up with consumer demand. By reforming the business rates system so that investment is incentivised, the Welsh government has the opportunity to support long term growth in the convenience sector in Wales.”

The Cross Party Group on Small Shops allows assembly members to discuss the policy agenda for small shops and highlight concerns to the Welsh government and assembly. The Association of Convenience Stores provides secretariat support for the group.