Thursday, February 13, 2014

Give businesses in Wales the same support as in England

Businesses hit by storms and flooding should be given a three-month break from paying rates. The move is urgently needed to help companies get back on their feet. Businesses have been hit doubly hard – firstly through damage thanks to the floods and the storm, and secondly they’ve seen  a sharp drop in trading either because people very sensibly have stayed at home during the bad weather, or because they’ve had to shut their doors for safety reasons. According to retail analyst Springboard, footfall in Wales plummeted 18.6% year on year on Monday and 17.7% on Tuesday. As an example, Debenhams closed two stores early in Bangor and Llandudno because of high winds and today other stores will be shut across the region while insurance assessors check for damage.
The road network across North Wales and north west England was brought to a virtual standstill on Wednesday night because of the high winds – the area around the Britannia Bridge has become a giant lorry park. That is also affecting deliveries in and out of Wales – both of items to customers and supplies into retailers and companies.  The rail network across North Wales has also been severely affected.
In the Parliament this week, at Prime Minister’s Questions, David Cameron vowed to waive business rates for three months and English companies can also defer VAT, PAYE and corporation tax for the same period.
We need similar action on business rates now from the Welsh Government businesses hit by storms and flooding should be given a three month break from paying rates.  The UK Government's help on VAT, PAYE and Corporation tax will help.  

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Statement on the reshuffle

Tonight I have travelled to North Wales because my region is being battered by storms that is where my focus is.  Many residents have suffered damage to their homes and their businesses and I have seen on my journey the emergency services working flat out, council teams out clearing roads, and I know the Red Cross are helping stranded Lorry drivers in Bangor affected by the road closures to Anglesey.  My constituents should know that I may have lost the title "Shadow Minister for Rural Affairs" but I have not lost my voice or my brain.  I intend to continue to use both to speak up for my constituents and my region, as I have done throughout my time in the Assembly.  Those living in rural communities will still benefit from the knowledge and experience that I have gained whilst shadow minister for rural affairs and I will continue to speak up for the needs of rural communities and North Wales, many of whom are without electricity at the present time or who have been cut off with transport problems across the North Wales region.

Tomorrow me and my staff will be focusing on providing support to those who need it.  Businesses and homeowners affected by the storms and floods should contact their local bank branches as many of the UK banks are offering assistance to those who have been affected, including mortgage interest holidays, and business loans for those businesses affected by floods.  My office will be open tomorrow to assist those that need it and I receive emails 24 hours a day.  I shall be remaining in the region next week to ensure that we provide all the support and help that is needed.

I call upon the Welsh Government to follow the lead of the UK Government and to extend business rate relief to businesses affected by the flooding and storms.  That is an immediate step which can be taken which would provide support and help to those businesses that have been affected.

Questions about tax are not relevant to the vast majority of my constituents at this present time, and if others wish to concentrate on the question of tax - that is a matter for them.  I took a position which I believe to be the right one, and the debate will no doubt be conducted in the future when it is more appropriate.