Our small businesses in Wales make a vital contribution to our economy and account for 95% of all businesses in Wales; it is vital we support this sector. Business rates still account for a significant part of operating costs for small businesses and as a result prevent businesses from growing, from investing in themselves and in many cases, creating more jobs.
We need to remove the burden of business rates and allow our private sector to flourish and create employment opportunities. Small businesses are vital for our economy, they form the backbone of our economy and they are vital in terms of spreading economic growth beyond our cities and towns into our smaller towns and communties.
If we truly want our country to be thrive, then we have to support and develop our small businesses. Business rates are a burden – they account for a far greater proportion of operating costs for a small business than they do for large businesses. Plaid Cymru has long championed the importance of local economies when it comes to generating national wealth.
Plaid wants to see the Welsh Government introduce permanent business rate relief for 90,000 small businesses – 20,000 more than the Welsh Government is offering – and to give more public sector contracts to local business. At the moment Welsh Government says 50% of £6 billion public procurement is sourced from Welsh Companies – Plaid would like to see that increased to 75%, putting another £1.5 billion into the pockets of Welsh companies.
In the New Year, we have a perfect opportunity to support local businesses, as shoppers, we have enormous buying power. Every £1 we spend in a local shop is worth 63p to the local economy and small firms generate 58% more economic benefit for local economies than large firms. As long noted by the Campaign for the Preservation of Rural England, every £10 pound spent in a local business circulates at least three times before it leaves the local economy rather than vanishing when spent in the branches of chains.
Now it should not all be simply down to us; the Welsh Government should be leading on this and could do much more to support Welsh businesses. A solid step to boost our small to medium sized businesses would be to ensure that the Welsh Development Bank given an extra £500 million to plug the funding gap by using the Financial Transaction monies recently transferred from Westminster, and seed the development of a new network of community banks on our high streets.