The Welsh Government’s refusal to U-turn on business rates relief has been labelled a “kick in the teeth” to struggling shops and hospitality businesses.

Plaid Cymru Leader Rhun ap Iorwerth was speaking after FMQs this week where he questioned First Minister Mark Drakeford on his Labour government’s decision to cut the current business rate relief of 75%.

Several prominent businesses have announced their sudden closure in the past week, across the Welsh capital.

The Plaid Leader said the government must reconsider this decision and offer businesses an eleventh-hour reprieve.

He added that Plaid was “up for the challenge” of reforming the levy to better support Welsh businesses and allow them to prosper.

Mr ap Iorwerth met with Welsh hospitality leaders including restaurateur Simon Wright, who said the decision to scrap the business rates relief was a “sickening blow” to the sector.

Mr Wright, who is part of the Welsh Independent Restaurant Collective called on the Government to reverse the decision to cut the support.

Mr Wright also called for the reform of business rates to “create a better environment for small businesses in Wales”.

Rhun ap Iorwerth MS said: “Wales needs a government that supports businesses to create the economic and social prosperity and fairness that our communities so desperately need.

“But the Labour government’s decision in the Draft Budget to end the 75% business rates relief is a kick in the teeth to both shops and the hospitality sector.

“Just in the past week, renowned and well-established food and drink businesses in Wales have announced their intention to close.

“Ministers argue that the current business rate relief of 75% which dates back to the pandemic was never intended to continue indefinitely but it begs the question why?

“Putting a safety net in place one minute then pulling the rug from underneath Welsh business the next – when times are particularly tough – isn’t a coherent approach.

“The Government must reconsider this decision and offer businesses an eleventh-hour reprieve.

Mr ap Iorwerth added: “We need less short-term economic thinking by this Welsh government.

“Wales is not fairly funded by Westminster but business rates is a pretty badly designed levy in the first place, a blunt instrument holding back too many of our entrepreneurs.

“Plaid Cymru is up for the challenge of reforming it because I believe that Wales’s greatest asset is its people and I want to support them at every turn.

Restaurateur Simon Wright added: “The draft decision that came just before Christmas to not uphold the 75% reduction in rates relief felt like a sickening blow.

“For many businesses this is the last straw and we’re starting to see that impact now in terms of closure of businesses.

“I’ve been in hospitality for a long time, but this is the most challenging time we’ve ever known.

“Businesses are under so much pressure.

“The reform of business rates is absolutely crucial. We know it’s not fit for purpose.

“The Government have been saying it’s not fit for purpose for many, many years, but what have we actually done about it?

“We need to create a better environment for small businesses in Wales, that spend their money in Wales, that have their roots in the community and that are resilient.

“We’re very good at that kind of business in Wales and we need to support it. This is a real hammer-blow and we just hope that Government has the sense to reverse this decision.”