Petition against proposed reduction in business rate relief for charity shops in Wales attracts 22,000 signatures

Charity Retail Association was due to present the document to the Welsh assembly today in protest at plans to limit the relief to 50 per cent for larger shops

Charity shop
Charity shop

The Charity Retail Association will present a petition signed by more than 22,000 people and organisations to the Welsh assembly today protesting against proposals to reduce business rate relief for charity shops in Wales.

In November, the Welsh government launched a consultation on a proposal contained in the Business Rates Wales Review, work on which was led by Brian Morgan, professor of entrepreneurship at Cardiff Metropolitan University. It was published in the summer.

The review said consideration should be given to limiting rate relief to 50 per cent for larger charity shops trading in new goods and restricting the number of retail units eligible for charitable relief in any town. They are currently granted 80 per cent relief.

The CRA has warned that if the proposals are implemented then up to a third of charity shops might close and the annual amount raised for charity would drop by £4m.

The petition, which calls for the proposals to be rejected, will be considered by the Petitions Commission next Wednesday. It will decide whether more evidence is needed if the issue should be passed on to another committee.

Wendy Mitchell, head of policy and public affairs at the CRA, said that, considering the support given to the petition, she expected it to be referred to the Welsh government and considered during decision-making on the proposals.

"We’ve heard anecdotally that more than 22,000 is one of the biggest petitions they’ve had," she said.

More than 250 charities with shops in Wales supported the petition, including the British Heart Foundation, Arthritis Research, Barnardo’s, Cancer Research UK, Bobath Children’s Therapy Centre Wales, the British Red Cross, Cancer Research Wales, Cats Protection, Kidney Research UK, Tenovus, Ty Hafan and the Paul Sartori Foundation.

Michelle Matheron, senior public affairs officer at the Wales Council for Voluntary Action, said: "We have been contacted by a number of organisations that fear any changes to business rates will represent a large drop in income. This comes at what is already a difficult time for charities, which are facing cuts to funding and increased demand for services.

"We want to see vibrant high streets and regenerated communities, but we do not believe that these proposals will achieve that goal, and we fear they will have a devastating impact on some charities and services in Wales."

The Welsh government is expected to make its decision about rate relief in March.

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