Andrew RT Davies, Leader of the Welsh Conservatives is calling for Welsh Labour to use the extra £650m funding from UK Government to extend the business rates holiday for the next twelve months to help Wales to recover. Andrew RT Davies MS said “After a tough year, the last thing businesses need at the start of the recovery is a hike in operating costs. Labour Ministers must use the extra funding they have just received from the UK Government to provide a business rates holiday to help save Welsh jobs, save vulnerable businesses and protect the high streets”.
Businesses across Wales are struggling to stay open as the number of empty shops has increased over the past three years. Research* shows 14.6% of shops on Welsh high streets stand empty with Mid and West Wales being the worst hit area. But this is not a Covid related problem and has been evident over the past decade. In November 2016 13.4% of Welsh shops were empty compared to 14.6% three years later. At 6%, Wales also has the highest rate of shops that have been empty for more than three years.
James Evans, Conservative Senedd Candidate has said “Whilst I welcome the temporary Covid support packages for the High Street in 2020/21, there needs to be a longer term support package to address the general decline we have seen over the past decade. Our High Streets were in decline before the pandemic and we need to have a bold plan for the next ten years to revitalize and re-energise our high streets.
After speaking to local businesses owners and the Federation of Small Businesses, the support on business rate relief should be extended for a further year to give businesses the opportunities to recover, to rebuild and to expand. A Business Rate holiday for 2021/22 will make shop units more affordable for start ups, allow existing businesses to recover and thrive, attracting more footfall and breathing new life back into our communities. This is about more than business and profits. These High Streets, our community shops and pub are focal points of our community, they give us a sense of togetherness and I urge all of you to spend local”.