Monday 18 October 2021 / 10:30 PM Economy / Rachel Reeves

Labour to force vote on cutting business rates, as new figures show over 300,000 businesses at risk across the country

Labour will tomorrow (Tuesday 19 October) force a vote urging the Government to cut business rates, and support struggling high streets as the cost of living crisis continues.

The party have also revealed new figures, based on a breakdown of data from the Office for National Statistics, that up to 332,000 businesses are at risk across the country, employing over 800,000 people.

With business organisations including the CBI, FSB, British Chamber of Commerce and over 40 trade associations calling for an urgent reform of the tax, the cost to businesses from rising inflation and increasing shortages is making the change more urgent.

Labour committed at their party conference to cutting and eventually entirely scrapping business rates and replacing them with a new form of business taxation fit for the 21st century. 

Labour have proposed freezing Business Rates until the next revaluation, and then increasing the threshold for small business rates relief (from the current threshold of £15,000 to £25,000), to give SMEs a discount on their business rates bill for 2022/23, ahead of more fundamental reform, where the party say they will scrap business rates entirely and replace them with a new form of business taxation.

Labour would pay for easing this burden on businesses by raising the UK Digital Services Tax to 12 per cent for 2022/23, raising £2.1bn which would be spent on cutting business rates for small businesses and the high street. In the long term, Labour would fund the replacement for business rates by shifting the burden of business taxation away from the high street towards large online tech giants.

Rachel Reeves MP, Labour’s Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer, said:

“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, and increasing shortages and supply chain issues increasing pressure and costs.

“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. 

“Today we are urging MPs to get behind this urgent change, and back cutting business rates for our brilliant British businesses.”