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The last few weeks have seen high profile blows to the independent food and drink sector in Cardiff with several much loved venues announcing plans to close their doors for good.
It is clear that something has to give in this sector, the increased cost of doing business coupled with the increased cost of living meaning people have less money to spend on socialising has already hit these businesses hard. The decision by the Welsh Government not to extend the partial business rates relief that remained from the pandemic has added an additional pressure that many businesses are simply unable to bare at this time. Whilst it is clear that the financial position that the Welsh government is operating in is enormously challenging it is also clear that if something isn’t done to support this sector the closures will continue and our communities will be worse off for it.
Long term measures such as the review of business rates and support to make venues more energy efficient, or even energy generating, are welcomed and should be applauded but the pressures many businesses in this sector are facing are too immediate to wait for these medium to long term solutions to have an impact.
Businesses are failing and need support now if they are still going to be trading when business rates reform comes into force.
These pressures are felt most keenly by our small and independent businesses which have tighter margins and smaller reserves. The continued loss of these businesses is damaging to Cardiff as a whole as they are the source of the unique spirit and identity of our capital city.