Wednesday 03 July 2013

RSPCA Cymru is warning that animal welfare in Wales could be irreparably damaged if dangerous proposals to curb charity shop rate relief go ahead. The Society has recently responded to Welsh Government proposals to reduce the business rate relief for charity shops in Wales from 80 to 50 per cent from 2022.

Unlike many other charities, RSPCA Cymru and its independent branches receive no government funding for their animal welfare services and rely heavily on the revenue generated by its 25 charity shops across Wales. Reducing rate relief could be detrimental to these services and place extra strain on the police and local authorities. Stores also provide a ‘shop window’ for the RSPCA’s other activities such as animal welfare advice and rehoming, as well as providing a vital opportunity for people to participate in volunteering.

Across Wales the shop vacancy rate currently stands at 17.9%. A reduction in charity shops could lead to a rise in this figure and could damage the high street even further.

Public Affairs Manager for Wales, Chris O’Brien said: “We are deeply concerned that, at a time when the Welsh Government is undertaking a wholesale review of its relationship with the third sector, charities across Wales could be heavily penalised by proposals to reduce and place restrictions on the level of rate relief.

“As the main enforcer of animal welfare legislation in Wales, we are seriously worried by the impact any such move could have on our future delivery of animal welfare services.

“RSPCA Cymru believe these proposals could prove counter-productive in attempts to rejuvenate the Welsh high street, while risking jobs and placing added strain on other public sector budgets which deliver key services.”

The consultation has now closed and charities across Wales await a decision from the Welsh Government concerning whether they will take proposals to cut rate relief forward.

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Note for editors – RSPCA Cymru’s full consultation response can be found here:  http://www.politicalanimal.org.uk/RSPCA/RSPCA%20Cymru%20response%20Business%20Rates%20Review%20June2013.pdf