CLWYD SOUTH AM KEN SKATES has called for major changes to the way Business Rates operate in Wrexham and Denbighshire.
The AM said he was in favour of devolving control of Business Rates to Wales so local councils could keep the proceeds of what they collect.
The AM who sits on the Assembly’s Enterprise and Business Committee said allowing local authorities to retain some of the money they collect would give them an extra incentive to help grow the local economy.
During a debate on the issue in the Senedd, the Business Minister said she would investigate how this could be done.
Clwyd South AM Ken Skates said:
“At present local councils in areas like Wrexham and Denbighshire collect rates, pass the money to the Government which then redistributes the money back to them as individual councils. This system is too convoluted and doesn’t create the right incentives for growth.
“A better system would be for Councils to have greater control over the retention of business rates so they have an extra incentive to make high streets and local businesses in the area more competitive.
“By allowing councils to keep up to half of their future increases in business rates, it would help generate more innovation on our flagging high street. Currently business rates can take up to around a quarter of the cost of running a small local shop, so the ability to control rates could be a useful tool.
“It would also allow us to target rate relief more specifically to the areas that really need it and hopefully encourage people to start businesses in depressed areas of Wrexham.
“Whilst there is no easy solution to our economic problems, business owners are telling me the system needs to be made a lot simpler and much more flexible.”
On Tuesday the Welsh Government announced its response to the Business Rates Review conducted by Professor Brian Morgan.
The Welsh Government agreed with the Group’s findings that the Silk Commission will need to consider issues relating to the devolution of business rates and the local retention of business rates as part of the whole funding system for Wales.
In addition, the Business Rates Review group is being asked to further examine the effectiveness of schemes introduced in Northern Ireland and Scotland to bring empty properties back into use.