Tag: Powys

More consistency and transparency needed – Welsh Businesses give their views on Business Rates in Wales

The Assembly’s Economy, Infrastructure and Skills Committee spends a lot of time talking to people in the world of Welsh business. Business rates is one of the issues that arises frequently and provokes strong reactions.

It was also an issue that cropped up heavily in our summer consultation when we asked people what work the Committee should be prioritising. For that reason, the Committee decided to hold an early one-day session looking at business rates in Wales. The event was held on 5 October, just days after details of a revaluation of business rates in Wales was published.

A Business breakfast to hear views from across Wales

The Committee invited a cross section of business representatives to a breakfast event at the World of Boats in Cardiff Bay on Wednesday to hear their views on the subject.

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To ensure we got the full picture from businesses Wales-wide, we filmed interviews with businesses across the country, so that we could show attendees a short video, summarising some of the key issues to help stimulate discussion.

Businesses spoke about the difficulties they experienced and suggested ways to improve the system for SMEs. Here’s some of the issues raised in the video:

It would have helped if we’d had that little bit of relief especially in the six months when we weren’t trading, so there was no money coming in only money going out and yet we had to still pay business rates…

Katia Fatiadou, Quantum Coffee Roasters Ltd, Cardiff Bay

When we pay business rates we don’t get anything back in return, absolutely nothing…so business rates are a cost to the businesses and there’s no return whatsoever.

Robert Griffiths, Ruggers Carpets, Merthyr Tydfil

A successful business rates policy would be based on a calculation of the company’s financial and profitability rather than the rateable value of the premises that they’re currently working out of or the premises that they potentially want to move in to.

Joshua Weaver, We are Promotional Products, Welshpool

At the event the biggest discussion points were how rates are calculated, what the money is spent on, whether and how rates could be reduced to promote economic development, as well as specific issues relating to the cost of investment in equipment (e.g. by major industries like steelworks), high street vs. out of town retail, and how holiday rental cottages should be assessed.

What happened after breakfast?

Later that morning, the committee held a formal meeting in the Senedd, taking evidence firstly from a panel of experts, and then from the Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Mark Drakeford, who is responsible for business rates in Wales. The session, which can be seen on Senedd.tv highlighted the need for greater consistency and transparency when it comes to business rates, a better appeals system, and clarity on any changes that may happen in the future.

Members made a number of references to what they had heard, from businesses at the breakfast event and from the video interviews, during the Ministerial scrutiny session.

Next steps

At the breakfast session, some participants indicated they might have further information they wished to share with the committee. They have been invited to share that in writing.

Once the Committee has considered any additional information, it will discuss its conclusions before writing to the Cabinet Secretary for Finance, with recommendations for improving the current regime.

Keep in touch

Members of the Economy, Infrastructure and Skills Committee

The Committee was established to hold the Welsh Government to account on issues such as economic development; transport; infrastructure; employment; skills; and research and development, including technology and science.

Keep up with the work of the Committee by following us on Twitter @SeneddEIS.

The Outreach team: Understanding and Engaging with the people of Wales

We’ve had a busy start to 2015 visiting groups across Wales delivering workshops about the National Assembly for Wales.

In January we attended a Community Event at Cardiff Story Museum which was organised by Cardiff Third Sector Council. We met with members of the public to inform them of the Assembly’s work and discussed different ways of engagement. We had a great day meeting new faces and telling people how they can have their views heard.

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Age Connects North Wales Central arranged Understanding and Engaging sessions for their forums across North Wales at the beginning of the year. We visited forums in St Asaph, Rhyl, Rhuthun, Corwen, Prestatyn and Colwyn Bay. During the visit to Age Connects in Corwen, Antoinette Sandbach came long and spoke to the group about her role as an Assembly Member.

Speaking after the workshop, Antoinette Sandbach AM said: “It was great to have an opportunity to discuss the work that I do in the National Assembly. I thoroughly enjoyed engaging with such a lively, interested and well informed audience.”

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On 3 February we spoke to the All Wales People First Council during their National Council Residential Meeting. We spoke to them about Assembly Members that represent them in their area, what the Assembly are currently discussing and how they can get involved. Following on from this presentation we recently provided a workshop to Powys People First which focused on the 20 devolved areas in Wales and how to submit a petition to the Assembly.

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In February we worked with the UK Parliament Outreach team to deliver a session to a group of service users from Conwy Connect for Learning Disabilities in Colwyn Bay.

The aim of the session was to ensure that service users understand what the UK Parliament and Assembly do and who represents them in both.

Speaking after the session, Sue Davies, Conwy Connect Senior Co-ordinator said:

“We were delighted that the National Assembly Outreach Team and the Parliament Outreach Service partnered together to deliver a joint interactive and interesting workshop to our members which included people with learning disabilities, parent/carers and Voluntary organisations.  It was enjoyed by all – its not easy making politics interesting but they both did this through the use of photographs, videos and users friendly exercises.”

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After a visit to Interlink RCT in February Rachel Wyatt said the following about our workshops:

“The ‘Understanding and Engaging’ workshop gave people an excellent overview of the work of the National Assembly for Wales, who their local representatives are, how they can contact them and some of the different ways that people can become involved in the work of the Assembly”.

Our aim is to connect the people of Wales with the work of the Assembly by discussing:

  • Who represents you
  • How decisions made in the Assembly affect Wales and its people
  • How the Assembly hold the Welsh Government to account
  • How you can get involved in decisions made by the Assembly

If you would like to arrange an Understanding and Engaging workshop for your group, or are simply interested in our work, please contact us via email: contact@assembly.wales or phone us on 0300 300 6565.

You can follow us on twitter @SeneddOutreach / @SeneddAllgym to keep updated on visits as well as to learn about the work we do on behalf of committees. You can also visit our pages on the Assembly website.

Scouts Wales – Democracy Challenge Badge

Back in 2012 the National Assembly for Wales’ Outreach team formalised a partnership with Scouts Wales in order to provide them with resources for their Democracy Challenge Badge. The Democracy Challenge is intended to encourage young people to explore the democratic processes of the United Kingdom, Wales and Local Authorities in order that they are better placed to make their own judgements in the future and take an appropriate part in democracy in society.

Resources have been created by the Outreach team in order for leaders to have guidelines and activities in place to complete the requirements of the badge. Once completed the Scouts receive the badge below:

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Over the last couple of months the Outreach team have been busy promoting these resources with Scout leaders from all across Wales and have attended numerous events in order to do this.

Back in June the National Assembly for Wales’ Outreach bus was present at the Scouts Wales Scout Camp in Builth Wells and the Outreach team spoke to over 1,000 Scouts about the work of the Assembly. Scouts also received the opportunity to have their say on their recycling services by filling in a questionnaire.

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Following this the Outreach team visited a number of Scout groups across Wales to introduce them to the Democracy Challenge Badge and to help them on their way to completing the requirements. These groups included Wrexham Beaver and Cub Scouts. The group received an introductory workshop which gave them the opportunity to vote in a mini election. Following on from the workshop the group visited the Senedd in Cardiff in order to help them complete one of the requirements of the badge, which asks them to find out about the Senedd and to create a poster to explain to an adult who it is that meets there.

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Susan Mort, the Cub Scout Leader said:

“Wrexham District cubs visited the Senedd in Cardiff to find out about how their Parliament works and to learn about the meaning of the structure and fabrics used in its construction which is all part of Wales heritage.

We had a successful visit from Caryl who works for the Outreach team visiting organisations giving presentations on the Welsh Assembly. Beavers and Cubs from 6 to 10 and a half years old found out about the Senedd then took a vote on what they thought was most important to them which included sport and education.

As young as they are, they all took part and the results showed how aware they are of the importance of things like education.”

On Saturday 18 September 2014 the Outreach Team were present at the Scouts Wales AGM and Conference at Builth Wells High School. We set up a stand with hard copies of the resources and information publications for leaders to take home with them.

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The Outreach team then had the opportunity to give a presentation on the partnership between the National Assembly for Wales and Scouts Wales with regards to the Democracy Challenge Badge, how leaders can get hold of resources and to encourage as many leaders as possible to take up the challenge with their groups.

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Following the AGM and Conference the Outreach Team spoke to Debbie Tanner who is the Senior Development Officer for Scouts Wales. Below, Debbie tells us what she thinks of the resources created for the Democracy Challenge Badge.

If you would like any further information on the resources, or would like a member of the Outreach team to come out and speak to your Scout group then please do not hesitate to contact us on 01492 523219 or outreachteam@wales.gov.uk

For any other updates on the work of the National Assembly for Wales, please follow our twitter page @AssemblyWales.