Panel to Assess How Business Rates Affect Economic Growth; HART NAMES PROF MORGAN TO CHAIR STUDY GROUP

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THE impact of business rates on economic growth is to be assessed by an independent review panel set up by Business and Enterprise Minister Edwina Hart.

Brian Morgan, professor of entrepreneurship and director of the creative leadership and enterprise centre at Cardiff Metropolitan University (previously Uwic), is to chair the independent working group. It will examine current business rates policy and how it meets the needs of Welsh business.

On Monday Mrs Hart confirmed Dr Elizabeth Haywood as chair of a task and finish group to look at potentially establishing a city region approach to economic development and planning in Wales. Mrs Hart has also set up a group, chaired by director of the IoD in Wales, Robert Lloyd Griffiths, to look at supporting micro-businesses - those employing fewer than 10.

The business rates task and finish group will consider: * the relative importance of the non-domestic/ business rates regime as a lever for supporting economic growth; * assess the implications of specific policies in relation to small business rate relief, empty property rate relief, and rate relief as a targeted policy intervention to encourage economic development (to include renewable energy businesses as well as assistance in disadvantaged areas); and * make recommendations on the above, taking into account that non-domestic/business rates exist to raise funding for local services and recognising that non-domestic rates do not just apply to "businesses" but to all non-domestic properties.

The Minister said she had received representations from businesses across Wales and was aware of concerns regarding business rates and the potential impact on the sustainability of businesses. Mrs Hart added: "It is important that we look at all aspects of business rates policy in Wales. …