Cefin Campbell, Plaid Cymru’s Member of the Senedd for Mid & West Wales has called on the Welsh Government to undertake an assessment of how many businesses in Wales have been overlooked by previous Covid-19 business support packages.
The call follows a growing number of businesses and constituents facing hardship in his region having fallen between the eligibility cracks in previous Welsh Government support schemes.
Speaking in the Senedd last week Cefin Campbell raised the situation faced by Mrs Tina Bowen, who has faced financial hardship over the past 18-months having been unable to benefit from financial support or business rate relief for her shop in Carmarthen.
Mrs Bowen, who has owned the premises in Carmarthen town centre for over 20 years, decided to undertake renovations to her shop in December 2019 having been made vacant by a previous tenant. However, weeks prior to placing the refurbished premises on the market in Spring 2020, Wales entered lockdown, and the challenging landscape of the past 18 months has since seen Mrs Bowen unable to let the premises.
Whilst empty, and losing any income associated with the premises, Mrs Bowen has been unable to benefit from any Welsh Government support schemes, and continues to face a significant business rates bill, which is placing her under financial hardship.
Cefin Campbell MS, who has previously raised Mrs Bowen’s situation directly with the Welsh Government in writing, again raised the issue this week in the Senedd Chamber. He called for a statement from the Finance Minister as to what assessment had been undertaken to understand how many other businesses have been overlooked by previous support packages.
Cefin Campbell MS said:
“The situation and hardship faced by Mrs Bowen, and many others, is a cause of concern – particularly as they have been hit financially through no fault of their own. With the pandemic’s shadow continuing to cast uncertainty and anxiety for many, it’s vital the Welsh Government undertake further assessments to identify the magnitude of the issue, and ensure individuals such as Mrs Bowen, who have fallen through the cracks of previous support schemes, can be safeguarded and supported. I will continue to press on the Welsh Government regarding such concern, and have again written to the Finance Minister calling for her urgent attention.”
Mrs Tina Bowen added:
“I am grateful to Cefin Campbell for raising this issue once again with the Welsh Government. As a result of the circumstances, and the lack of financial support from the Welsh Government both in relation to grants and reviewing their business rates relief guidance, I remain in an extremely difficult position financially. I now face a business rates bill for thousands of pounds, all the while my premises has been left empty over the past 18-months as a result of the pandemic. I do hope the Welsh Government can review their policy, and ensure that individuals such as myself who have fallen through the cracks through no fault of their own, can be supported at this challenging time.”