THE WELSH Government is putting in place a cross-sector, cross-Government fund to respond to the specific needs of businesses amid the coronavirus crisis.

Economy Minister Ken Skates the scheme is addressing "emerging gaps" in the UK Government's interventions, such as support for the self-employed and helping businesses meet the cost of Non Domestic Rates in other sectors of the economy, as well as rent of commercial premises.

The Welsh Government says it is "determined" to do what it can to minimise business failures and to enable viable businesses to ‘hibernate’ through the worst of the shutdown of the economy caused by coronavirus.

During this period of 'economic hibernation', the Welsh Government says its intervention will help meet fixed costs which are no longer covered by earned income and which are not adequately addressed by the UK Government interventions. It will also assist self-employed citizens, should U.K. Government not step in with direct assistance this week.

This will be designed specifically to include social enterprises and charitable organisations which have until now relied in whole or part on revenues from trading.

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) in Wales has welcomed the news.
It said: "Businesses will be pleased to see that Welsh Government has listened to FSB and has sought to protect self-employed individuals.

“The key now is to get the funding out of the door as quickly as possible, and to make sure it can be targeted at those businesses and self-employed people who need it. We’ll be working closely with Welsh Government to make this happen.

“The onus is now on UK Government to follow suit and provide protection for the self-employed who bring so much to our communities, and invest hugely in our economy. The urgency of this support cannot be overstated as daily, individuals are seeing their businesses and livelihoods threatened. We must not let these individuals down.

"We need our small businesses and self-employed entrepreneurs, and right now they need us.”

Mr Skates said: "We intend to announce precise details as soon as we possibly can over the coming days and clearly, the exact coverage will depend on what further measures the Chancellor of the Exchequer announces.

"Ensuring adequate resources for such a fund will undoubtedly require difficult choices.

"As a result, the Welsh Government has decided to make one adjustment to the Non-Domestic Rates (NDR) Relief for the hospitality, retail and leisure sector announced last week: to not extend the 100 per cent relief to the small proportion of properties with a rateable value of £500,000 and above."

Mr Skates says this will affect fewer than 200 properties across Wales but will release more than £100 million to kick-start the economic crisis fund.

He added: "We will be writing to all of the businesses affected and making clear that we will consider discretionary support if there is a compelling economic case to do so.

"We are also pleased to report that Welsh Local Authorities have risen to the challenge.

"They have agreed not only to re-issue NDR demands to those businesses which no longer are liable for them, but to distribute the grants which we announced last week, of £10,000 for each small business which qualifies for Small Business Rate Relief and £25,000 for retail, hospitality, and leisure businesses occupying properties with a rateable value of between £12,001 and £51,000.

"Finally, we would once again urge employers across the public, third and private sector to prioritise the health and wellbeing of their employees during this challenging period."