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Small businesses welcome rates breathing space  

Photo credit: Matthew Horwood

Businesses in Wales have welcomed the news that the Welsh Government has responded to FSB’s calls and announced a new package of support to ease business rates over the course of the next two years.    

The upcoming draft Welsh Government Budget will see the non-domestic rates multiplier frozen for 2023-24 to combat inflationary pressures on firms, in addition to a transitional relief for all ratepayers whose bills increase by more than £300 following the UK-wide rates revaluation in April.   

The Welsh Government also announced that those within the retail, leisure and hospitality sectors will receive 75% non-domestic rates relief for 2023-24, a rise from the 50% relief provided in 2022-23.  

Ben Cottam, Head of Wales at the Federation of Small Businesses, said, “This announcement provides some much-needed certainty for small businesses.    

FSB Wales has long called for Welsh Government to use its business rates levers to support small businesses at this very difficult time, and we are pleased to see Welsh Government respond to our calls with a package that provides breathing space and support to the very firms that hold the key to reviving our economy.    

We recognise that there are many pressures and demands on the Welsh Government’s budget as the economic crisis pinches every part of Welsh society. However, this announcement recognises the need to support our smaller businesses and the reality that the only way out of the current recession is by bolstering the health and ability of our smaller businesses to protect jobs, support communities and return to growth and investment.  

FSB’s latest quarterly survey of small businesses, the Small Business Index (SBI) shows confidence has fallen to the lowest on record outside of official Covid lockdowns, with 89% of firms reporting a cost of doing business increase. Our recent Energy Bill Relief Scheme review found that 96% of firms are concerned about rising energy costs, with 44% facing doubling, tripling or more, of their energy bills.   

As we await an announcement from UK Government on the replacement for the Energy Relief Scheme which is due to come to an end in April 2023, the Welsh Government’s announcement today will go some way to alleviate the pressure small firms are facing- especially those within the retail, leisure and hospitality sectors.   

It clear that the road to recovery will be complex, and require multiple support solutions, but supporting our essential small businesses by reducing the tax burden, is a helpful start and we will continue to work closely and productively with Welsh Government Ministers to inform their approach to protecting the Welsh economy”