In Parliament yesterday, I highlighted a ‘stark contrast’ between the UK and Welsh Government’s approach on support for business.
Speaking during an opposition day debate on business rates, I highlighted the contrast of the Welsh Government’s £610million package of non-domestic rates relief, which means that businesses will not have to pay any rates at all until next April, to that of the Conservative-led UK Government, which reintroduced business rates in England earlier this year.
As part of the debate I said: “In Wales, the Welsh Labour Government have helped 70,000 businesses who won’t have to pay any rates until next year, whereas in England over the summer the support was scaled back. Does my honourable friend agree with me that this is a stark contrast, with Labour in government supporting business unlike the party opposite?”
In response, Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer Rachel Reeves MP said: “My honourable friend is absolutely right.”
“The Labour government in Wales ensured that there would be no business rates at all for hospitality and retail sectors for this financial year. That is in stark contrast pushed ahead with restarting business rate bills in June of this year.”
I know from speaking I know from speaking to businesses in my Newport East just how much of a difference the business rates relief from the Welsh Government is making in these still-challenging times.
By continuing the rates relief package until next year, the Welsh Labour government has rightly acknowledged the importance of small and medium-sized businesses to our local economies, and more broadly the vital role they have to play in the national recovery from the pandemic. The Conservative government in Westminster should look to follow the lead of Wales, which has the most generous business support package of any UK nation.
Since March 2020 the Welsh Government has provided more than £2billion to businesses across Wales to help them through the pandemic.
The 100% rates relief for 2021-22 comes on top of an additional £200m of support for businesses over the coming year. As part of this, businesses in Wales still affected by coronavirus restrictions will be able to claim up to £25,000 more in support to help meet ongoing costs. Those benefitting from this include nightclubs and entertainment venues; events and conference venues not already covered by the Welsh Government’s Cultural Recovery Fund (CRF); hospitality and leisure businesses, including restaurants, pubs and cafes; and supply chain businesses which have been materially impacted by restrictions.