A CASH injection of £24.2m has been pledged to help support struggling high streets.

The additional funding will support Welsh businesses in 2020-21 through the Welsh Government’s high street and retail rates relief scheme.

The scheme, first introduced in 2017, is being extended for a further year providing support to over 15,000 small and medium-sized businesses, including shops, restaurants, cafes, pubs and wine bars, to help them pay their rates bills.

It will reduce rates bills to zero for retail properties with a rateable value up to £9,100 and reduce bills by £2,500 for properties with a higher rateable value.

Finance Minister, Rebecca Evans said: "We recognise the importance of a healthy retail sector in Wales, and the impact the current economic climate has had on some high street businesses.

“The extended relief scheme I am announcing today will continue to provide much-needed support for struggling retailers in Wales, helping to keep the high street vibrant and at the heart of local communities.”

Local authorities will also receive a further £2.4m to provide additional discretionary rates relief allowing them to respond to specific local issues.

This funding will be provided through the local government settlement for 2020-21, taking the total being provided to local authorities for discretionary relief to £4.8m for 2020-21.

Ann Jones, AM for Vale of Clwyd, said “This scheme is about backing businesses and is in addition to the £230m the Welsh Labour Government provides to help businesses pay their bills, ensuring that half of them pay no rates at all.

"The current economic conditions and competition from online retailers and out-of-town shopping centres are having an impact on our high streets. High streets are the heart of our communities where we shop, work, eat and socialise."

David Chapman, UKHospitality executive director for Wales, said: "Extending relief for hard-hit businesses is very welcome. Many hospitality businesses continue to be strangled by extortionate rates bills and high streets have suffered as a result. Alleviating some of this pressure should give businesses a boost to invest in their teams and venues

“More does, however, need to be done to help those larger businesses that have been hammered just as hard by rates hikes.

"Hotels in particular continue to face the brunt of rates increases and action needs to be taken to ensure they are not left behind. Hotels are fantastic employers in many Welsh communities and spiralling rates bills only threaten jobs.”

CAMRA, the Campaign for Real Ale, welcomed the help but said a 'complete review' of the rates system was needed.

Chris Charters, CAMRA director for Wales, said: “Whilst any reduction in costs for businesses under the extended High Street and Retail Relief scheme be welcome, moves like this are only a sticking plaster.

“We need a complete review of the business rates system in Wales to help give pubs a fair deal and save them from closure.

"In the meantime, CAMRA would like to see a permanent scheme put in place by the Welsh Government to cut Business Rates bills for pubs to keep them open, alive and thriving.”