Page last updated at 08:09 GMT, Sunday, 29 March 2009 09:09 UK

Tories plan business rates cuts

Nick Bourne
Nick Bourne is expected to address delegates at the conference later

Welsh Conservative Leader Nick Bourne is to announce plans to exempt tens of thousands of small businesses from business rates.

He is expected to say firms with a rateable value of up to £10,000 would, under a Tory-led assembly government, be not have to pay business rates.

Firms worth between £10,001 and £15,000 could have a 20% business rate cut.

He will speak at the party's spring conference at Cardiff, where party leader David Cameron is also due.

The Conservatives estimate the business rate reduction scheme would cost £53m and benefit up to 90,000 firms.

Closing the two day conference, Mr Bourne will pledge to make small businesses "a priority" if Conservatives take power after the 2011 assembly election.

He will argue that the scheme could be funded through "restoring balance" to the assembly government's finances.

The Welsh Tory leader will accuse Welsh ministers of "pandering to populism" through gimmicks and giveaways which had "whittled down" the public purse.

Mr Bourne will also announce plans for a Welsh manufacturing strategy and "sustainable energy schemes" to produce more green jobs.

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