Monday 27 February 2017 / 4:38 PM 2017 Press Archive / The Latest from Labour

Labour hold emergency business roundtable to discuss business rates “ticking time bomb” – Rebecca Long-Bailey

Labour
hold emergency business roundtable to discuss business rates “ticking time
bomb”

Senior
Labour politicians met today with representatives from ten major business
organisations to discuss the mounting business rates crisis.

New
rates are due to kick in on 1st April but thousands of businesses
are unsure whether they will be able to pay.

Labour
joined forces with businesses to put pressure on the Government to provide emergency
transitional relief for struggling businesses in the budget next week. They
also agreed to begin an ongoing dialogue about how to fundamentally reform
business rates in the longer run.

The
meeting followed Labour’s earlier announcement of a five point plan for
business rates, which is intended to help businesses through this difficult
period, and develop a system of business taxation that is fairer on businesses
and local communities alike.

Labour’s
Five Point Plan for Business Rates:

1.     
Set up an emergency transitional relief fund for businesses facing “cliff edge”
increases in their rates, and revise the appeals process to ensure businesses
get a swift and fair hearing

2.     
Bring forward CPI indexation so that businesses aren’t paying more because of
how inflation is measured

3.     
Exclude new investment in plant and machinery from future business rates
valuation

4.     
Introduce more regular valuations in law to stop businesses facing periodic,
unmanageable hikes

5.      Fundamental
reform of the business rates system to ease the burden on traditional high
streets and town centres in the age of online shopping; support the traditional
fabric of our communities, including community pubs and incentivising free cash
machines; and create a fairer system of business taxation.

Rebecca
Long-Bailey, Shadow Business Secretary, said:

“We’ve
called this emergency meeting with business organisations today because time is
running out to save our local businesses and we need to keep the pressure on.

It’s
clear that there is a way out of this crisis, the question is whether the
Government are going to take it.”

Jim
McMahon, Shadow Minister for Local Government, said:

“Our
town centres and high streets are already struggling – and this latest hike in
rates threatens to send many businesses under. Small businesses in particular
need far more support than the Government is currently offering.”

“This
business rate revaluation has exposed the inherent flaws in this antiquated and
unfair system. That’s why we are calling for a full review of business rates.
The Government must move towards a system which works for businesses, and their
local communities.”

Mike
Cherry, National Chairman at the Federation of Small Businesses, said:

“Business rates are an
outdated tax. FSB is keen for all political parties to help those small firms
hardest hit by the current revaluation, and to start to focus on fundamental
longer-term reform of business rates to make sure it’s fair for small firms. It
is incredibly important to support small businesses and the self-employed so
they don’t face shock tax rises, so we are delighted to take part in the
roundtable.”

Andrew
Silvester, Head of Campaigns & Deputy Director of Policy at the Institute
of Directors said:

“It’s hugely
important that politicians on all sides look for constructive ways to reform
business rates. This is a 20th century system and in a 21st century economy it
looks painfully out of date.”

Christopher
Richards, Senior Business Environment Policy Adviser at the Engineering
Employers Federation, said:

“Establishing the principle that plant
and machinery has no place in the business rates system is an important first
step for all political actors to take, this is the top priority action for
industry. The inclusion of plant and machinery in business rates bills
represents a tax on productive investment and undermines the international
competitiveness of UK manufacturing. Excluding future investments from being
taxed is therefore a significant step in the right direction, is consistent
with the government’s industrial strategy aims and if enacted would give some
confidence to manufacturers about the likely post-Brexit investment environment
in the UK.”