New figures published by the Welsh Liberal Democrats today reveal the huge disparity across Wales in the support offered to businesses suffering from a temporary crisis in exceptional circumstances.
Business Rate Hardship Relief is intended to assist a business recover from a temporary crisis, financial or otherwise, as a result of exceptional circumstances.
Freedom of Information Requests submitted by the Welsh Liberal Democrats reveal that since 2013 as few as 52% of applications to councils for Hardship Relief were granted, with three Local Authorities, Rhondda Cynon Taf, Pembrokeshire, and Ynys Môn, rejecting 100% of the applications they received.
Carmarthenshire rejected the most: of 67 applications only 12 were approved.
Eluned Parrott, Welsh Liberal Democrat Shadow Economy Minister stated:
“Whilst Welsh high streets are struggling, many local authorities are not using all of the tools at their disposal to encourage economic growth and support business.
“The hardship relief scheme for Business Rates is a lifeline for small businesses if unforeseen events hit their trade. However there is a huge disparity between the number of grants across Wales with some councils granting 100% of the applications they receive and others granting none at all.
“13 of Wales’ 22 local authorities didn’t grant any relief in 2015, while 7 local authorities haven’t made a single relief grant in the last three years. The fact that the number of applications varies so drastically from one authority to another also suggests that some councils are failing to tell their business community that this help exists.
“The Welsh Government needs to be looking into why some councils are choosing not to support struggling businesses. I’ve called for the Welsh Government to review the Hardship Relief scheme as a matter of urgency, so that viable local businesses aren’t lost when they hit an unforeseen bump in the road.”