Thursday, 19 November 2009

Assembly at sea on rates say Pembrokeshire Tories

Businesses in Pembrokeshire are still in limbo about their rates hike because the Assembly Government has no relief plans in place.

The UK Government is planning to raise the business relief threshold in England on September 30 and in Northern Ireland the rates revaluation has been postponed.

But in Wales, the Assembly Government still has not decided what, if any, action to take.

The admission by Local Government Minister Brian Gibbons that there are no "definitive proposals" in place contradicts a letter sent by local MP Nick Ainger to Narberth Chamber of Trade.

In the letter, Mr Ainger revealed that Brian Gibbons had told him at a meeting on November 5 that business rates relief was to be raised to 20 per cent.

But in another letter to the Welsh Conservatives written the same day, Mr Gibbons revealed instead that the Government is only 'considering measures, including raising thresholds'.

The rates revaluation is due to come into force on April 1 and many local businesses are facing 30 per cent higher bills. In Narberth businesses have seen a rise of 200+ per cent.

“The Welsh Assembly Government needs to provide clear leadership on this matter, not muddy the waters by saying one thing to MPs and another to the Chamber,” said South
Pembrokeshire AM Angela Burns, pictured.

Welsh Conservatives have repeatedly called on ministers to raise the threshold, delay revaluation until at least April 2011 and introduce a scheme to scrap or reduce rates for up to 90,000 businesses.

"I have been contacted by a number of different types of business concerned about their rates revaluations," said Preseli
Pembrokeshire AM Paul Davies.

"Elsewhere in the UK there has been decisive action taken and relief packages announced but in Wales we are still waiting for answers."

Mrs Burns added: "Businesses need to be able to plan their budgets. This revaluation has been on the cards for five years so it can hardly have come as a surprise and yet the Welsh Assembly Government is all at sea."


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