We want your views – small business rates relief scheme for Wales
In April 2018, Welsh Government will introduce a permanent new rates relief scheme for small businesses. They are now seeking views on these proposals. We’ve summarised the main proposals and our thoughts on some of these below. If you’re a social business working in Wales, we’d be grateful for your views on these proposals and if you could share your experience with us. We’ll use this as the basis for our response and we’ll also produce a template response that interested social businesses can amend and submit.
So what’s the current position? A form of small business rates relief (SBRR) has operated in Wales since 2008, providing rates relief to properties according to their rateable value and broad category of use. Relief is currently provided to eligible business premises with a rateable value of up to £6,000 receiving 100% relief; and those with a rateable value between £6,001 and £12,000 receiving relief on a tapered basis from 100% to zero. Certain types of premises also receive additional relief. Currently, rates relief for social businesses is inconsistent and provided only in certain areas of the country. We’d like to hear about your experiences of applying for rates relief. Are you a social business that has been granted rates relief? How easy was the process and what difference did it make to your business? Are you a social business that’s been refused rates relief? Please email us your story.
Welsh Government’s proposals for the new scheme include:
- Restricting business rates relief for businesses occupying multiple small properties
- Providing more assistance for small businesses by either increasing the threshold for 100% relief from £6,000 to £8,000, increasing the upper threshold for relief, or combination of the both.
- Widening exceptions to eligibility for rates relief for types of property which do not align with wider Welsh Government objectives. For example, the Scottish Government currently excludes any type of business associated with payday lending from its scheme.
- Targeting support for wider Welsh Government objectives. Support will be targeted at businesses which are aligned, or are working towards alignment, with Welsh Government priorities and are of social, economic or environmental benefit to Wales. Support will also be targeted at specific sectors such as childcare.
Some of our initial thoughts on these proposals are outlined below and we’d welcome your feedback on these:
- We believe that social businesses across Wales should be eligible for rates relief. Social businesses across Wales create social and environmental value alongside economic value.
- There is also an argument to ensure that social businesses operating in specific sectors are granted rates relief. For example, co-operatives operating in renewable energy sector. Granting these social businesses rates relief would also help to deliver Programme for Government commitments around supporting community energy schemes. Community energy co-operatives have previously told us that business rates chargeable on community energy schemes create a barrier to their development.
- If social businesses are granted rates relief, we would recommend that a robust definition of social enterprise that covers their key characteristics would help prevent misuse.
- The document proposes supporting businesses which incentivise economic growth. The Wales Co-operative Centre believes that traditional approaches to economic development are not working for the whole of Wales. Economic growth has become unbalanced and many communities across Wales are being left behind. A new approach focused on building an inclusive economy is needed and we believe this could best be achieved through greater emphasis on building local economies with social businesses at their heart.
- We would also welcome clarification of the following points raised in the consultation document:
- Clarification of the support/relief that will be offered to businesses delivering WG priorities and economic, social and environmental benefit to Wales.
- How these businesses will be identified and rates relief to them regulated to prevent misuse.
If you’re interested in feeding into this response please contact us with your thoughts by 11th September.