Age Cymru has issued the following statement ahead of a statement that is expected tomorrow by the Welsh Government’s Business Minister, Edwina Hart, about business rate relief for charities.
The Business Minister is due to make a statement regarding the Welsh Government’s review of business rates tomorrow (Tuesday 1 October).
As has been well documented in the Welsh media, and indeed in the UK media, the proposals regarding reducing charitable rate relief would be a huge mistake.
What seems to have been missed in the thought process is that, whilst we would all support tax breaks for small business owners, the fundamental difference between a charity retail outlet and a private business is that the charity enterprise is there in order to support charitable activity that is of wide benefit to the local community.
Along with my colleagues at Age Cymru, the national charity for older people in Wales, I have recently been looking at the option of establishing a new centre in the heart of the Rhondda Valley.
The new centre would follow a model that we have recently established in Gwent in that it would offer a mix of charity retail but it would also house aninsurance office where older people can ensure they are protected properly, and even more importantly a face-to-face information and advice service where older people can walk in and discuss anything from mobility aids, to benefits advice, to caring for a loved one.
We estimate that the new centre would generate over 250,000 visits by local people on an annual basis, and we are certain that it would become not only an important resource but an essential resource in the Rhondda area.
Should the Welsh Government take forward the proposal to reduce charitable rate relief we may have no option other than to retract from the project.
It could be the difference between us being able to generate enough funds to cover the costs of providing the charitable services on the high street - and not.
Given that the Minister is due to make the announcement this week, we felt it was important to highlight how the wrong decision could have a catastrophic effect on exciting and worthwhile new projects in Wales such as this.
We urge the Welsh Government to take the charity sector very seriously in regard to our protestations over this proposal which we feel is totally nonsensical.
Why pull the rug from under the charity sector when we are already faced with a 20% drop in fundraising income across the sector and a huge increase in the demand for our services?
The Welsh Government should retract from this idea as soon as possible.
Director of Income Resources, Age Cymru