Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Talking business with the FSB in Llandudno

Gareth Jones and I had the great pleasure of meeting Susan Morris, Chair of Conwy County FSB to discuss some good news on business rates which the FSB and others have widely welcomed.

The vast majority of businesses in Llandudno’s Mostyn Street are paying less in business rates from April following actions taken by the Welsh Government.

Approximately two-thirds of the two hundred-plus rateable properties in the main shopping street were already due to pay less from April after the Welsh Government raised the thresholds for qualifying for the rate relief scheme and decreased the multiplier from 48.9 pence in the pound to 40.9p.

And another reduction announced by the Welsh Government takes effect in October 2010 and will mean even more businesses paying less for the twelve months after, as a consequence of extra money in last week’s Budget to keep business rates down in England. .

The news was welcomed by local AM for Aberconwy, Gareth Jones who has been pressing the Government in Cardiff for action to do whatever it can to reduce the effects of the revaluation on smaller businesses. He said:

“I’m no great fan of business rates - it’s a regressive tax introduced by the Conservative Government in London in 1990 which unfortunately takes very little account of the success of the business or its ability to pay.

“But applying the recent changes to the thresholds and the multiplier to the draft valuations from the VOA suggests that about 139 or roughly two-thirds of the 205 rateable properties in Mostyn Street will pay less from this week.

“Even better, the Welsh Government's announcement means that from October, just over 170 businesses, some 84%, will be paying even less and thirty of them will pay nothing at all.

“Some critics have cited figures showing an average 15% rise in rateable values in Llandudno’s Mostyn Street as evidence of an increasing burden on all businesses. Clearly that’s not true and I very much welcome the fact that Plaid in Government is doing what it can to help protect smaller businesses from this unfair Conservative tax.”

A five-year revaluation of rateable values took effect from April 1st and most businesses will see those rise after the Westminster Government’s Valuation Office Agency reassessed every business based on its market rent in April 2008.

The changes are supposed to reflect rises in market rents since the last revaluation five years ago and are intended to be neutral overall with the businesses paying more balanced by those paying less.

The revaluation cannot be postponed by the Welsh Government as it’s a legal requirement under the system of national non-domestic rates introduced by the Conservative UK Government in 1990.

About half of small businesses in Wales will pay no business rates for the year from 1 October 2010 and roughly 20% more will see their business rates significantly reduced.

Mr Jones added:

“While most businesses across Wales stand to gain, I am of course aware that a minority of businesses will have to pay a more as a consequence of the revaluation. They can however appeal to the Valuation Office Agency if they can prove the rise is unjustified.”

Phil Edwards, Plaid’s Westminster candidate for Aberconwy added:

“I believe a much fairer system could be devised if the whole issue of taxing businesses was overhauled by the Westminster Government or if the Welsh Government was to get the power to do it itself. Plaid would scrap business rates and replace it with amuch fairer system.”

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