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A taxing problem for business

One subject guaranteed to get raised at election time is that of business rates. Yet meaningful change looks as remote as ever. National Non-Domestic Rates (NNDR), as the tax is officially known, is a bit of an arcane arrangement. As it happens, it’s not going to be a UK election issue in Wales as business rates were devolved four years ago. The approach is the same however, with each eligible commercial property being assigned a notional rental (rateable) value. Officials then apply a multiplier (currently 53%) and the result appears on your bill. The monies are collected by local authorities and paid into a national ‘pool’ administered by the Welsh Government. This is then redistributed to

A little less negativity is needed

It’s an acknowledged trait, according to sociologists, that large-scale developments intended to promote economic optimism are just as likely to bring out the negativity in people. It’s natural I suppose. Big changes are unsettling but it sometimes feels to me that Swansea has managed to turn nay-saying to an art form over the years. For every complaint that nothing is ever done you get a protest that the city is a building site. Every development is somehow the wrong type or in the wrong place or should have been done in a nicer colour altogether. I’m no fan of vanity projects or pointless ‘boulevards’ but I get very tired of the old favourites trotted out as to how Swansea is a city of art

Democracy isn’t always what you imagine

Someone once uncharitably wrote that governments and nappies should be changed regularly - and for the same reason. However, others would say that it’s the way that they get elected that needs an overhaul. Here in the UK, we are given the democratic opportunity to vote for the party of our choice, right? Well, actually, no. Parliamentary elections only allow you to vote for a candidate, not a party. This isn’t just a matter of semantics. Voters are lumped together into 650 notionally similar-sized constituencies. The system we call First-Past-the-Post only requires someone in each constituency to get the most ballot papers with a cross against their name to win. It’s been known for a candi

Shopping around for a new retail model

It’s mostly grim news on the retail front again. Big names are reporting lower profits and outright losses as the trend away from walk-in sales continues. As you’ve probably read, Mothercare is to close all of its 79 UK stores and its online business with the potential loss of 2,800 jobs. Administrators were called in earlier this week. Strangely, the action does not include profitable overseas operations. This comprises more than 1,000 franchise stores in over 40 countries. Meanwhile Marks & Spencer has revealed a further decline in fashion sales. The news follows an admission that a turnaround plan is 18 months behind schedule. Clothing and home goods remain in the doldrums for the retaile

Weekly Column

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