WELSH GOVERNMENT Finance Minister, Rebecca Evans AS, has extended a business rates relief scheme.
In a written statement to the Senedd last week, the Minister announced a further twelve months’ support for all retailers in Wales with a rateable value of up to £50,000.
As a result, the Welsh Government will now provide over £1/4bn in rates reliefs for businesses.
The additional money will be fully funded by the Welsh Government and will provide support of up to £2,500 towards the rates bills for retail properties with a rateable value of up to £50,000.
It will reduce rates bills to zero for retail properties with a rateable value up to £9,100 and reduce bills by £2,500 for properties with a higher rateable value.
As well as supporting retailers on the high street, the scheme will continue to support retailers in other locations. Ratepayers benefitting from the relief include those with occupied retail premises such as shops, restaurants, cafes, pubs and wine bars.
A further £2.4m will be allocated to local authorities to provide additional discretionary rates relief for local businesses and other ratepayers to respond to specific local issues. This funding will be provided through the local government settlement, taking the total being provided to local authorities for discretionary relief to £4.8m for 2020-21.
The scheme will continue to be administered by local authorities on an application basis and operates in addition to other support provided by the Welsh Government. This means that while local authorities will collect the business rates, at a cost to the local Council Taxpayer, they have little or no say in how the money collected from business rates feeds back into or supports the communities from which it is collected.
While the Welsh Government continues to tinker at the edges of business rates, as The Herald reported before Christmas there is a widespread call for the whole system to be overhauled.
In November, the Treasury Select Committee published its report on business rates.
It acknowledged the burden the current regime poses for businesses of all sectors and sizes and that it is no longer fit for purpose. It also agreed that business rates deter investment.
One solution, a commercial landowner levy based on the land value of commercial sites rather than their capital value, would shift the burden from tenants to landlords. Such a radical reform seems highly unlikely as long as the Treasury has its hooks into the billions raised by business rates. In practice, unless regulation was strict, it would enhance the desirability of obtaining tax benefits by leaving commercial sites vacant.
At the last election, every political party agreed that business rates needed reform.
Labour’s Mid and West Regional AMs Eluned Morgan and Joyce Watson welcomed the announcement.
They said as well as supporting retailers on the high street, the scheme will continue to support retailers in other locations including restaurants, cafes and public houses.
Eluned Morgan AM said: “Across Wales, 15,000 small and medium businesses will be supported in the new financial year”
Joyce Watson AM said: “I welcome this latest announcement to support local businesses. It will reduce rates bills to zero for retail properties with a rateable value up to £9,100 and support of up to £2,500 towards the rates bill for retail properties with a rateable value up to £50,000.”
Dave Matthews, who runs the Oasis bookshop in Whitland welcomed the continued support being offered saying: “We are very happy about this continuation. Oasis is much more than a shop in Whitland, it’s a drop-in centre for the community too. What makes what we do sustainable is the fact that our business is supported by this continued rate relief.”
Llandeilo going for Fair Trade Status
A NEW steering group has formed in Llandeilo to achieve Fair Trade status for the town.
“Many of our local shops and venues already stock or serve Fair Trade products and I believe Llandeilo deserves to be officially recognised for this,” says co-founder town councillor Christoph Fischer.
“It’s fantastic to see so many businesses and stakeholders committed to Fair Trade in Llandeilo,” says Candace Browne of Y Pantri Glas, Llandeilo’s Zero Waste and Natural Foods store. “However, for me Fair Trade extends beyond insuring workers growing imported exotic produce like bananas and chocolate are treated fairly but also to trading fairly with our local producers and sourcing good food locally. As Chair of Slow Food Cymru, Slow Food Town status with a shared vision of “Good Fair Food for All” would also be great for businesses to work towards for our community.”
The group, which has representatives of several businesses and interested individuals, are currently mapping all products that local shops, schools, groups and organisations offer and are lobbying the town council and other bodies to get behind the movement by declaring their own commitment to Fair Trade.
“As town councillor and as individual I feel this initiative fits perfectly well with the trend in town for fair trade,” says Fischer. “As Member Pioneer for the Llandeilo Coop part of my role is to initiate projects like this and bring all parts of the community together. We already had positive replies from Café 139, The Lighthouse, Heavenly, Ikigai, CK’s, Crown Stores, Umami and Llandeilo Primary.”
If you and your organisation want to commit to Fair Trade or are stocking Fair Trade products, please contact ChristophFFischer@googlemail.com
Council determined to close Aberystwyth’s window of waste
ABERYSTWYTH town centre is provided with regular and reliable waste collection services. Unfortunately, some localised, seasonal issues continue to arise. One of the solutions to this is to close the Window of Waste!
The window of waste is the time between when waste is presented for collection and when it is actually collected. The longer the window of waste is open the more issues and problems that occur which includes the waste being ravaged by seagulls, other animals as well as the elements. This causes the problems that are experienced in some town centre locations mostly on and around waste collection days.
The County Council has been very proactive in Aberystwyth over recent years in introducing interventions and changes to waste collection arrangements with a view of addressing or improving long standing issues. These are currently being reviewed and include but are not limited to:
· Additional early waste collections in the town centre to collect waste that has been presented too early.
· Provision of wheelie bins on North Parade and heavy duty sacks at various streets to contain waste between the time it is presented and collected
· Provision of free caddies and caddy liners for food waste and boxes for glass
· Localised information provision
· Closer working between Waste Collection and Street Cleaning teams
· Closer monitoring
· Ongoing liaison with residents and landlords
As part of Caru Ceredigion and Caru Aber all residents are encouraged to play their part in being part of the solution rather than the cause of the problem. This means working with us to ensure that:
· Aber’s streets are kept clean and attractive at all times
· Aber’s waste is dealt with in the most efficient way possible from a cost and environmental perspective
· Aber remains a fantastic place to live and visit
· Aber maintains the superb positive profile and image it deserves
We are asking all residents to help us close the window of waste by presenting the Right Waste in the Right Way and on the Right Day:
· Right Waste: making full and proper use of the services provided for recycling and food waste which are collected every week
· Right Way: presenting the waste in suitable containers, which includes the food caddies and glass boxes provided by the Council. A range of bins from wheelie bins to traditional bins are available from local outlets or online to store and present waste.
· Right Day: waste should only be presented for collection by 08:00 on the day of collection.
Businesses are reminded that they have a legal responsibility to have trade waste arrangements in place for all the waste their business produces
For the size and nature of the town, Aberystwyth is a clean town, which contributes to its overall attractiveness as a fantastic place to live and visit. If this were not the case then so many local people and visitors would not hold it in such high regard.
For more information regarding Ceredigion County Council’s waste collection services, including a postcode finder, please visit www.ceredigion.gov.uk.
Lidl branded best value as expanded store opens in Aberystwyth
Lidl has been revealed as the cheapest supermarket in May, according to the latest monthly analysis from Which?.
Which? compared prices for a trolley of 20 items every day throughout May and found that on average, shoppers would have paid £22.66 at Lidl, beating the big four and Aldi to the accolade. Products checked included own-label products such as tomatoes and chicken drumsticks and branded goods such as Nescafé coffee, to see how UK supermarkets compared. The announcement recognises Lidl’s continued commitment to offering customers top quality products at great value prices as the retailer expands further into the future. Earlier this year, Which? named Lidl as the Cheapest Supermarket 2020, demonstrating that Lidl continues to offer UK shoppers consistently unbeatable prices.
The news comes as the supermarket expanded its operation in Aberystyth.
This pic of the new store was taken by Rose Voon.
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