AN MP has joined forces with council leaders to demand answers about why Monmouthshire has been “unfairly penalised” by business rates rises.

David Davies said the county is facing huge hikes – more than any other local authority area in Wales apart from Conwy – with 65 per cent of businesses set to be affected.

Some rural business owners are being hit with increases in excess of 130 per cent, which they claim puts them under serious threat of closure.

Over 200 Monmouthshire companies will also lose out on small business rates relief after the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) reassessed their rateable value at higher than the £12,000 qualifying limit, described by Mr Davies as a “double whammy”.

He is backing urgent calls by Monmouthshire County Council for a delay in implementing the tariffs, due to come into force next April, following a meeting at County Hall in Usk on Friday.

“Pubs, shops and Post Office branches seem to have been hit particularly hard; businesses that are vitally important to the rural economy in Monmouthshire and make our county such an attractive place to live,” said Mr Davies.

“Unless something is done, we will definitely see cherished family-owned businesses closing down.

“I cannot believe Finance Minister Mark Drakeford will want this to happen. I have written to him with actual examples of what these rises will mean for local business who have contacted me. Quite simply, they will not be able to carry on.

“We need to ensure small business rates relief levels are increased and some limit is put on any possible rates rise.

“It is ludicrous to expect pubs, shops and small traders to suddenly have to pay double the amount in rates overnight.”

Mr Davies said he would be asking the Welsh Government to explain why Monmouthshire is shouldering a higher proportion of the rates burden liability when there are “inconsistencies” with other counties in Wales. The Vale of Glamorgan, for example, is experiencing an overall business rates reduction of 10.6 per cent.

“The calculation seems to be somewhat unjust,” added the Monmouth MP.

“I urge businesses owners in Monmouthshire to find out what their new levels are likely to be by visiting the VOA website and inputting their business address.

“Many people are still unaware of the forthcoming rise and it is important that as many affected businesses as possible contact the Assembly Minister to demand a postponement on these proposals.”