Speaking in the Assembly Chamber this week, North Wales AM Mark Isherwood has twice raised the concerns of North Wales businesses that Welsh Government proposals for changes to the non-domestic rating of self-catering businesses will have “horrendous unintended consequences for truly genuine Welsh businesses”.
Mr Isherwood (pictured below) raised the matter in this week’s Business Statement, and the following day with the Economy Minister.
Speaking in the Business Statement he said: “Could I ask you to bring to the Chamber the Welsh Government’s proposals for changes to the non-domestic rating of self-catering businesses in Wales before you lay your proposed Order on this, expected imminently, certainly before Christmas?
“You will be, no doubt, aware that the Wales Association of Self Catering Operators, the only membership body specifically representing self-catering operators in Wales, has said that any proposed measures enacted by the Welsh Government should enhance the positive contribution self-catering makes to the Welsh economy and that translating the concept of 70 days’ occupancy and 140 days’ availability into firm rules should allow for mitigation in those unforeseen and unforeseeable circumstances where bone fide businesses are unable to meet either criterion for reasons clearly and certifiably outside of their control.
“I’ll quote one operator only, although I’ve been deluged from North Wales: ‘The Welsh Government proposals have horrendous unintended consequences for truly genuine Welsh businesses that are beyond their control. It will be the death knell for small self-catering and many other businesses in the heart of rural Wales, especially north Wales.’”
The Minister for Finance and Government Business Jane Hutt AM told Mr Isherwood to write to the Minister for Economy, Science and Transport about this, but the following day Mr Isherwood raised it directly with the Minister in the Chamber.
He said: “In a letter they sent to all AMs on August 31st, the Wales Association of Self Catering Operators expressed concern about the way the Welsh Government perceives self-catering in Wales and that the Welsh Government is insufficiently aware that self-catering in Wales is an important business sector in its own right, employing large numbers of people, supporting local suppliers and benefitting local rural economies.”
Mr Isherwood added: “The Minister’s dismissive response was alarming and I will now be writing to her in the hope of a better response. As someone in North Wales with 18 properties told me ‘these are not second homes, this is a letting business.’”