Welsh shoppers are being encouraged to support local high streets struggling with crippling business rates, as a national campaign asks consumers to celebrate trade at the heart of their communities.
High Street Saturday will run this weekend (16th March), with communities across the UK pledging to shop locally, and share photos and messages online with the hashtag #HighStreetSaturday.
Welsh communities famed for historic markets still rely on their local high streets, which have long been a place to bring people together, a place to access vital services, and a place for entrepreneurs to thrive; but in Wales, business rates are crippling enterprises of all sizes.
Under a Labour-led Government, Wales has become the most expensive place in Great Britain to pay business rates, as companies of all sizes now have to hand over more than half of their estimated annual rent in tax, at 51.4p in every pound. This is set to increase to 52.6p from April, higher than both England and Scotland.
Smaller businesses in Scotland and England are better off than their counterparts in Wales, because the larger ones pay more business rates through a split multiplier.
Speaking about High Street Saturday, Welsh Conservative Shadow Minister for Business, Russell George AM, said:
“Welsh Conservatives would like to see an environment where small and medium sized enterprises are able to flourish and grow.
“Business rates relief is an important factor to nurture our small businesses, so we believe that the business rates relief cap should be raised to reflect the input businesses provide to our economy and our communities. Therefore, Welsh Conservatives are calling for a rise in the 100% rate relief to £15,000.”