The Welsh Liberal Democrats Assembly Member for South Wales West, Peter Black visited Swansea's British Heart Foundation (BHF) Cymru's Furniture & Electrical store today to learn more about how proposed changes to business rates will lead to a loss of income for the charity and more empty shops on high streets across Wales.A recent report commissioned by Welsh Government Business and Enterprise Minister calls for cuts to the rate relief given to charity shops in Wales. BHF Cymru shop staff and volunteers in Swansea told Mr. Black that those changes would mean substantial hikes in business rates and threaten their shop's survival.
Mr. Black commented: "I am concerned that if the Welsh Labour Government presses ahead with changes to business rates for charity shops then this will have a devastating effect on the work they are doing and lead to more empty shop units on our high streets. I am told that 130 paid jobs and 1800 volunteer posts could be lost across Wales.
"I also learnt today that the profits of the bigger shops will be severely affected, meaning less money for good causes.
"Charity shops have an important role to play in our society both in terms of raising money and in helping volunteers. I know of several charity shops that are providing training opportunities. I am urging the Minister to reject these proposals."
Ceri Winter, Area Manager for BHF Cymru's Furniture and Electrical shops, said: "We're delighted that Peter Black dropped in to our store in Swansea to hear our concerns and meet staff and volunteers get the experience to secure permanent jobs
"Donated goods such as sofas and fridges for our Furniture and Electrical stores are the lifeblood of the fight against heart disease and donations to this shop have already recently helped us provide 3 specialist heart nurses, an Echocardigraph machine at Morriston Hospital, and 67 life-saving defibrillator machines to help in the fight against heart disease.
"If these rate proposals go ahead particularly limiting the relief for shops with a Rateable Value above £36,000 , it would severely affect stores such as this in Swansea , which would be faced with an extra £13,000 annual rates bill - an extra £150,000 countrywide if all our shops in Wales stayed open" she added.
For more information on the campaign contact Delyth Lloyd, BHF Cymru Press Office on 02920 382406 or firstname.lastname@example.org