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Coronavirus: Business rates relief for small Welsh firms announced

Coronavirus: Business rates relief for small Welsh firms announced

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Supermarkets have experienced panic buying over the last few days Small businesses will benefit from more than £200m to help them during the coronavirus outbreak, the Welsh Government has said. Shops, leisure and hospitality businesses will see their rates cut, and in some cases removed, while a separate grant

An Asda shop is out of fruit

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Getty Images

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Supermarkets have experienced panic buying over the last few days

Small businesses will benefit from more than £200m to help them during the coronavirus outbreak, the Welsh Government has said.

Shops, leisure and hospitality businesses will see their rates cut, and in some cases removed, while a separate grant scheme will be available for those who are not eligible.

It comes after Wales was promised £835m by Westminster to help businesses.

One person has died out of 124 to test positive for the virus so far in Wales.

The UK government has advised against non-essential travel and told people to work from home.

People have also been told to avoid pubs, clubs and theatres if possible.

Announcing the package, Finance Minister Rebecca Evans said: “I know that helping businesses with their rates bills will not be enough to protect them from the severe drop in custom many are experiencing as coronavirus cases increase.”

First Minister Mark Drakeford welcomed £475m from the UK government on Monday on top of £360m promised at last week’s budget, totalling £835m.

Business rates are devolved in Wales and the Welsh Government is under pressure to match commitments in England to suspend business rates for many shops and cafes for a year.

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Media captionEverything you need to know about the coronavirus – explained in one minute by the BBC’s Laura Foster

Economy Minister Ken Skates said government figures in Monday’s Cobra meeting, which he took part in, recognised “that there are businesses and livelihoods which will be perfectly viable again, once coronavirus is over”.

“We want to look to see what measures can be taken to bridge the position between today and then so that those businesses are still there to go on providing the important services they do when coronavirus is at an end,” he added.

Also on Tuesday, Health Minister Vaughan Gething will give a statement on the outbreak to the Senedd, and the Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA) will set out how councils are responding to the outbreak.

How many coronavirus cases are there in Wales?

There are 124 confirmed cases to date in Wales, with following individual cases identified in local authorities:

  • 23 cases in Swansea
  • 14 each in Caerphilly and Newport
  • 11 each in Cardiff and Neath Port Talbot
  • Seven each in Carmarthenshire and Monmouthshire
  • Five in Blaenau Gwent
  • Three in Powys
  • Two each in Anglesey, Pembrokeshire, Rhondda Cynon Taf, Torfaen and Wrexham
  • One each in Bridgend, Ceredigion, Conwy, Flintshire and Vale of Glamorgan
  • Source: PHW

WLGA leader councillor Andrew Morgan said: “At the moment council services remain open. Government guidance states that schools should remain open for the time being.”

Meanwhile, a group of campaigners have called on the Welsh Government to ban tenant evictions during the coronavirus crisis.

The statement is signed by former Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood, Welsh Labour executive member Darren Williams and several trade unionists.

It also says meals on wheels should be expanded and emergency grants given to people in “serious poverty.”

The Welsh Government said it will be announcing “a series of measures to help and protect people.”

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