TRADERS in Gwent have questioned Welsh Government claims it is offering the best funding packages to businesses to help them through the coronavirus pandemic.

The amount of financial support businesses have been offered during the pandemic - during which many have been forced to close their doors for weeks, or even months on end - differs in Wales and England.

In Gwent, 'small business' owners  (defined as businesses with a rateable value of less than £12,000) that The National spoke to, have been paid £6,000 since they were closed, when the latest lockdown came into force just before Christmas.

In England, however, small businesses are defined as those with a rateable value of less than £15,000, and have been paid £4,000, along with an extra £2,000 for every 42 days closed – so far equating to around £8,000.

Medium-sized businesses in Wales (those with a rateable value of more than £12,000) that The National spoke to have received two £5,000 payments so far. But those in the same category in England, defined as those with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000, have so far received £6,000, plus £3,000 for every 42 days closed, equating to around £12,000 so far.

Businesses in England are also being offered 'Restart Grants' of up to £18,000 as many prepare to re-open in the coming months. No such offer has yet been made in Wales.

Some traders in Chepstow argue that with rateable thresholds in England higher, there are many businesses just across the border with equivalent rateable values benefitting more.

Alice Stephens, who lives in Sedbury and owns Alice and The Hare salon on St Mary’s Street, says she has become frustrated knowing friends in the hairdressing industry in England "are being supported better".

The National Wales: Alice Stephens outside her salon at St Mary's Street

Alice Stephens outside her salon at St Mary's Street

“We have had two lots of £3,000 and I don’t know where the next payment is coming from,” she said. “I know there are many equivalent businesses to us in the Forest of Dean which are getting more.

“Not only that, but those businesses have been informed they will be getting £18,000 in funding [as part of the new Restart Grant] to help them get up and running in April, but we’ve heard nothing with regards to opening or funding.”

Ms Stephens, who is 25 and only started her business in 2019, says she feels “completely out of the loop”.

Across the road Dawn Floyd, owner of St Mary’s Collectables, says in her 40 years of business she has “never felt so disconnected”.

“These figures might sound a lot of money to most, but it is nothing,” she said. “Shop rentals around here are more than £3,000 a month.

The National Wales: Dawn Floyd says she feels let down by a lack of funding and transparency

Dawn Floyd says she feels let down by a lack of funding and transparency

“It’s not only that, but with the repeated payments every 42 days, at least businesses in England know where they’re at financially. We just keep getting told about reviews all the time.”

She believes a lack of notice again for businesses ahead of the upcoming review, means whichever businesses are able to open will be in for a mad rush, and many will miss out on trade.

“I hope we get a surprise and there is news of a Restart Grant for businesses in Wales like in England, but the only surprises we tend to get are bad ones," she said.

“The last three months have felt cruel. On December 19 we had five-hours’ notice to shut up shop. We’re still paying the price for all that unsold stock due to a lack of notice then.

“Ever since, we’ve been hanging on, waiting for news, and I feel morale is now at the lowest point for traders.”

The National Wales: Dawn Floyd says she feels let down by a lack of funding and transparency

Dawn Floyd says she feels let down by a lack of funding and transparency

At Manor Way, Ben Pugh, of First Stop Stationers, said he feels let down.

“My other half runs a small business in Caldicot and has received £6,000,” he said. “If her business was in England that money would be £8,000.

“She received £10,000 for the first lockdown last summer over an equivalent period. Now times are even tougher and she’s received almost half in funding. It doesn’t make sense.


“We have had two lots of £5,000 because our value is above £12,000. Last summer for the equivalent period we received £25,000. Why is that down so significantly? It’s frustrating. I feel as though the Welsh Government is anti-traders at the moment.”

Photographer Sally Jade Gillard, who started a petition calling for Wales’ businesses to receive equivalent funding for the rest of the pandemic, said: “I don’t understand why this is a devolved matter. We all pay our taxes to central government, and it feels as though we’ve just got the leftovers.

“Rateable value is naturally higher in England due to costs of rents in big cities, but the system is clearly flawed. If my business was in England I’d have more help, and that can’t be right.

“I have had people coming to me who own businesses in England and Wales, and they say they are much more confident about their businesses in England due to rolling funding. Why are we getting one-off payments after reviews?

“There is a possibility some businesses will be able to open shortly, and no-one knows which businesses that is going to be.

“It’s a big operation to get a business off the ground again, and it needs time and preparation. In Wales we need that restart money even more, but we’re still in the dark.”

A spokesman for the Welsh Government said: “Between December and March, an eligible small business in the hospitality, leisure and tourism sectors in Wales with four staff and a rateable value of £15k, for example, could get up to £16,000 in support from the Welsh Government.

"In England, a comparable business would get £6,000. Welsh businesses have received support from our non-domestic rates scheme and our unique Economic Resilience Fund, which is in addition to the help offered by the UK Government.

“Pending the outcome of the next review on 12 March, a further £150million in grants could be made available to firms. The UK Government announcement on restart grants is for the next financial year.

"We’ve already put aside £200m for next year and we will continue to review our options for supporting firms further.”

None of the 15 traders The National spoke to for this article had received more than £10,000 between December and March.


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