Now, some of us may have noticed that it's election time (again) and that all sorts of people are making all sorts of promises and pledges to gain electoral support (again). The Tories, who occasionally pass themselves of as being business friendly (although the combination of the current economic climate and the swinging Conservative driven cuts agenda might make many small businesses think twice about that particular claim), are suggesting that they will scrap business rates - yet their shadow budget shows that there would be significant reductions across the board, which would directly hit the economic budget, if they got their way.
The Conservatives in Wales have claimed they will provide rate-relief of 100% to all small businesses with a rateable value up to £12,000. However this promise is simply not affordable. The Tories pledge has absolutely no credibility especially when you consider that the Conservatives current plans to cut the local government budget, which deals with rate-relief, by 12.5%, far greater than that currently proposed.
I think that the Conservatives are seriously misleading the business community on their business rates pledge. In the past the Conservatives have stated they plan to give responsibility for rate relief to the Economic Development department. however at the same time they are campaigning for a massive 30% cut to that portfolio, almost a third more than what the Welsh Government believes is necessary. Plaid Cymru’s plans for business rates have been costed and are deliverable, something that certainly cannot be said for the Conservatives seemingly hastily calculated on the back of a fag packet.
Plaid Cymru is proposing to maintain the temporary business rate relief scheme until 2016, this will ensure that around half of small businesses will continue to pay no business rates at all. This will have a significant impact on businesses in Wales and will allow our economy to continue to recover from the disastrous mess that New Labour created and which the Con Dems are intent on making worse. Unlike the Conservatives at Plaid's plans are both ambitious and also deliverable.