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Labour Party Commits to Scrapping Business Rates

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The Labour Party has committed to cutting business rates in England before phasing them out entirely.

Rachel Reeves, the party’s shadow chancellor, is set to unveil the plan during a speech at the Labour Conference taking place in Brighton this week.

Ms Reeves has said that scrapping business rates will provide a boost to high street retailers who count the tax as a significant financial burden.

The shadow chancellor is expected to tell her party’s conference that, if elected, a Labour government would reform the way businesses are taxed in the interests of fairness and the wider economy.

She is reportedly set to say: “Our high street businesses do so much to enrich our lives and our communities, facing huge adversity in the past year. They are struggling right now, with a cliff edge in rates relief coming up in March.

“The next Labour government will scrap business rates. We will carry out the biggest overhaul of business taxation in a generation, so our businesses can lead the pack, not watch opportunities go elsewhere.”

The plan to scrap business rates in England has been welcomed by the Federation of Small Businesses, whose national chair Mike Cherry describes the current system as one that “disproportionately burdens the small businesses and sole traders at the heart of local communities”.

Meanwhile, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) has long been calling for reforms to the business rates system, which it says has the effect of holding back high street operators across the country.

Indeed, the BRC recently published a report suggesting that the burden of business rates is a major reason why so many high street stores are being closed each month and why so many retail units are currently vacant.  

“The government needs to bring the burden down and take action to ensure that the system reflects property market values more quickly,” said Helen Dickinson, the BRC’s chief executive in a statement.

“With one in seven shops currently shuttered, it is essential that action is taken, or else it will be our local communities and high streets which suffer the consequences,” she added.

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