Column in the Glamorgan GEM by Rt Hon Alun Cairns MP
In the Vale of Glamorgan we’re fortunate to have excellent independent traders, such as those on our High Streets in Barry, Cowbridge and Llantwit Major, which play a vital role in our local economy.
Over recent months I have spoken to small businesses across the Vale of Glamorgan about the impact of business rates, which is regularly raised as a key issue.
As a strong supporter of our local businesses, I am pleased that the UK Government acted on these concerns, with the Chancellor’s Budget announcement that business rates in England would be cut by a third.
Readers will note that this is a devolved matter, so the Welsh Government has received the necessary funding from Westminster to implement the same relief for businesses in Wales. However, I am disappointed to see that the Welsh Government’s High Street Relief Scheme falls significantly short of the relief in England, which will see some Welsh traders paying thousands of pounds more in business rates.
I am really keen to see the Welsh Government recognise the challenges faced by small business in the Vale and respond by matching the rate relief offered to businesses in England. This would give traders in the Vale the support they need and help to make Wales a more attractive place to do business.
We’ve got a fantastic opportunity in Wales to boost our economy, with measures such as the removal of the Severn tolls significantly helping to promote business growth. In addition to the money for rates relief, the UK Government has agreed £300m of additional borrowing so that the Welsh Government can build the M4 relief road. These two decisions would mean be a huge help to traders, which will support job creation and uplift the Welsh economy.
I’ll continue to bang the drum for small traders in the Vale. I know from my conversations with them what a huge difference a cut to the cost of business rates will make. For many it will allow them to take on more staff or make improvements to their business which will benefit the whole of the Vale and further afield for years to come.