Well, not when it comes to discounting business rates anyway. Pauline Anslow says she got “quite excited” when she read my June 17 column recounting Harjit Singh’s advice that anyone with a rates bill under £5,000 was entitled to a reduction of 50% . I’m afraid that Malcolm Merriott did too. Both trade in Cwymru – Pauline runs The Queens in Newport and Malcolm runs Merriott’s Food Store in the Rhondda Valley and both had been told by their local councils that there was no reduction available on their books. Pauline had already consulted the National Federation of Retail Newsagents before she rang me and they had confirmed this bad news. And it is bad in her case because her rates had just gone up from £218 a month to £485.

In Malcolm’s case I put him onto the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and they thought that the reduction should also apply in Wales, although they were unsure. The RICS put Malcolm on to the authorities in Pontypridd, and the answer was to follow the advice of the local authority. I then rang the Federation of Small Businesses (which had originally given Harjit the happy advice about rates reduction) and it was confirmed yet again that, unfortunately, Wales had chosen not to adopt this measure. I also had a couple of calls from retailers trading in England who wanted to know just how they should go about getting their reduction. I assume you merely ring up the council and claim it (they’re not making it exactly public, but you are entitled). If you need any further advice, consult the experts. RICS run a free helpline, tel: 0870 333 1600. They know far more about it than I do (except in Wales of course!).

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