Local Businesses Need Help with Rates

Column in the Barry & District News by Rt Hon Alun Cairns MP

This weekend is Small Business Saturday, so I want to encourage as many people as possible to use this opportunity to support our many brilliant independent traders across the Vale of Glamorgan. Recently, I visited the Christmas Market on High Street, which was a great showcase of small business and I was glad to see people coming out in great numbers to support our local shops in Barry.

In the weeks leading up to Small Business Saturday, I’ve been speaking to independent traders from across the Vale to help raise awareness of the day and also to speak about the issues that impact them. Unsurprisingly, the strain caused by business rates was the main issue that they raised with me.

With this in mind, the Chancellor used his Budget to support small businesses with rate relief which will see businesses in England benefit from a cut in the rates they pay by up to a third. I am delighted to welcome this as it also provides Wales with the opportunity to follow suit. As a result of the devolution settlement, the UK government has given the Welsh Government £26 million for the period 2019-2020 so that they have the option to implement this change for businesses in Wales. However, the Welsh Government has full control over their own spending and it is down to them whether or not Wales will match this rate relief.

Vale businesses have made it very clear to me that they want the Welsh Government to offer them meaningful support by passing on the cut in business rates. It will make a huge difference to them as they compete with ever-growing online competitors and will help to ensure that our High Streets retain the independent traders that make them special. I am calling on the Welsh Government to support Vale businesses with the cut and I encourage everyone else, regardless of party politics, to do the same.

In the meantime, we can support our local traders in the Vale by giving them our business. Please make sure that you play your part this Saturday. The value of the day is clear. On Small Business Saturday 2017 an estimated £748 million was spent on the day, making it the most successful of their campaigns to date. Spending over the course of this day makes a huge difference to small businesses across the country and I want to ensure that our excellent traders in the Vale enjoy their share of the success.