Business Rates Revaluation
17th March 2017.
David Cummings Chairman of Monmouth Chamber of Trade and Commerce commented:
Retailers will remember how hard the Chamber and other organisations fought for more money for relief for those affected by large hikes in business rates as a result of the business rateable value revaluation, details of which came out in October 2016. On 17th December the Welsh Government announced a new Targeted High Street Rate Relief Scheme (THSRRS). On 14th March MCC Finance Department finally received enough information on THSRRS to define how it would be applied. Possibly as a result of my insistence, there will be a covering letter with every business rate demand going out in the next week or so explaining, not only THSRRS, but also transitional relief and how it will be applied. It is evident that some county councils have sent out rate demands without explaining what THSRRS is and how it will be applied.
The covering letter explains what THSRRS is and is after this introduction. It is important to stress for Tier 1 relief only that relief will be paid to businesses who have seen an increase in their business rates, where they will expect to pay the same, or even where there has been a fall. It is expected that MCC Finance Department will be able to make adjustment for the THSRRS mid-summer, so for those paying rates on Direct Debit the payment can be adjusted. I am pleased to inform you that MCC have decided to take a fairly loose interpretation to the words “High Street” in THSRRS and apply the benefits to all retail premises in towns in the county. They estimate that about 400 out of 3167 businesses with rateable premises will qualify. There are terms and conditions imposed by WG so out of town, empty properties, doctors, dentists, hotels and self-catering will not be eligible for THSRRS. Pubs will be eligible.
I believe that at this point we should give thanks that not only the Chamber, but MCC have done such a great job in fighting the cause and on keeping businesses informed. It is evident that no other county council has done half as much. We fully support the points raised in Bob Greenland’s letter to Mark Drakeford -see next item on this web page.
Chamber of Commerce unhappy about new business rate support scheme announced on 17th February
The Chamber, Monmouthshire County Council and others fought last autumn and early winter to secure a better deal for hard pressed small businesses facing huge rateable value increases. What we have been given is a completely different animal – a General High Streets Rate Relief Scheme.
The statement in the press last Friday from Minister Mark Drakeford seems both ambiguous and contradictory.
Chamber members are pressing me on the issue, but it is impossible on the information provided so far to suggest what their rates payable in April might actually be.
We are very pleased that MCC has called an emergency meeting of the Chambers of the County for Tuesday 21st February to discuss the new scheme.
As they are the organisation with the unenviable task of calculating each business's rate demand and understanding the scattergun measures proposed by the Welsh government, we are confident that their understanding will be greater than ours. However, I fear that MCC will still need to seek further clarification from the Welsh Government.
We find the delay by the Welsh government in announcing the measures, from 17th December until 17th February, totally unacceptable and a situation, which has caused great stress amongst business owners.
David Cummings, Chairman
The waiting game
Additional £10m Targeted Business Rates Relief Scheme – Welsh Government
Before Christmas Welsh Government announced that it had allocated £10m for a targeted business rates relief scheme, which would be in addition to the transitional relief that had previously been announced.
It has been stated that the relief will be targeted at high-street ratepayers – shops, pubs, restaurants and cafes, including those which have seen their rates increase significantly as a result of the 2017 revaluation undertaken by the independent Valuation Office Agency.
This announcement is available via the following link:
We understand that Welsh Government are looking to make full details of the scheme available at the end of February.
We shall update you as soon as we have further information.
Chamber raises the profile of the business rates debate at the Welsh Assembly
Pictured above are David Cummings, Chairman of Monmouth and District Chamber of Trade and Commerce, AM Andrew RT Davies and local AM Nick Ramsay on 18th January. Also, Sally Stephenson of the Cowbridge Traders is seen presenting to the Welsh Government a petition from 1700 businesses and individuals in the Cowbridge area opposing the huge increases in business rateable value, which will affect business rates payable from April 2017.
Prior to the photo being taken above, Sally and David had an informal meeting with Andrew RT Davies, leader of the Welsh Conservatives, concerning the business rates issue. It is evident that the Conservatives support the stance by Monmouth and Cowbridge for Wales to adopt the new English system of Small Business Rate relief when the Welsh system is revised in 2018/19.
Following the presentation above, there was robust debate on the subject in the Assembly. Despite being pressed on the subject by assembly members Minister Mark Drakeford would not be drawn on exactly how the extra £10 million promised in mid-December would be allocated to unitary authorities (In Monmouthshire’s case MCC). What is evident is that time s short for a decision to be made as unitary authorities must have the detail by the end of the month, so that they can calculate how to distribute the extra relief and the transitional relief.