WQ92879 (e) Tabled on 15/05/2024

What is the Welsh Government doing about high street shops that have been empty for over a year?

Answered by Minister for Social Partnership | Answered on 24/05/2024

Welsh Government is actively working with retailers, local authorities and partnerships like Business Improvement Districts (BIDs), to support town and high streets to develop local solutions ensuring they remain vibrant and attractive to consumers. Investment through our £125M Transforming Towns programme is being used to support a range of projects in town and city centres, including bringing back previously empty or underused properties in town centres into commercial, leisure and residential units.

Business Wales will support new businesses with advice and start-up loans. The £32.5m Wales Micro Loan Fund available through the Development Bank, provides loans to small businesses, sole traders and social enterprises based in or willing to move to Wales.

We are investing an additional £78m of support for retail, leisure and hospitality businesses with their non-domestic rates bills next year. This builds on the almost £1bn of support provided through our retail, leisure, and hospitality rates relief schemes since 2020-21. Eligible ratepayers will receive 40% non-domestic rates relief for the duration of 2024-25. This is in addition to our range of fully funded permanent reliefs, which are worth £250m annually. Our Small Business Rates Relief supports ratepayers for around 70,000 properties across Wales, with over 50,000 of these receiving 100% relief.

Work on the Programme for Government commitment to ‘Support the development of a register of empty buildings and help small businesses move into vacant shops’ is ongoing. Research has been commissioned which will help understand what businesses need to access empty properties in town centres. The research work will be completed in Autumn 2024.