EXCLUSIVE: Labour call for reforms to business rates system

Jeremy Corbyn criticises the current system ‘Business rates are a killer for small businesses’

Labour Party members have called for reforms to the current business rates system amid fears it risks the livelihoods of independent retailers.

Speaking at the relaunch of a Nisa in north London last weekend, Jeremy Corbyn criticised the current system. He told RN: “Business rates are a killer for small businesses.”

Suggestions made by Labour councillors following the event include raising business rate relief above £12,000. Asima Shaikh, executive member for economic development in the Finsbury Park ward, told RN: “Business rates and rent have the biggest impact on small businesses, especially those in the Islington area.

“There isn’t enough relief and we’ll continue to lobby this with central government.” When asked how high the increase should be, Ms Shaikh said she would be considering “sensible” options.

Labour MP for York Central Rachael Maskell added either a 1% annual turnover or profit tax would be a suitable alternative. She told RN: “Business rates are hollowing York’s high streets and we need an urgent review.

“A 1% turnover tax would equal what is currently generated by business rates.”

Ms Shaikh and Ms Maskell also called for a review of rates paid by online businesses. “We must review the glaring issue of online businesses not being taxed in the current system,” said Ms Shaikh.

Sandeep Bains, of Simply Fresh in Faversham, told RN: “Business rates came in decades ago. We need a fairer system which won’t be manipulated by the likes of Amazon.”

The comments echo those of Grimsey Review 2 author Bill Grimsey earlier this month. Mr Grimsey suggested Britain’s struggling high streets could be saved by turning them into ‘community hubs’. Ms Shaikh said: “The plan resonates with us. Small businesses are the lifeblood of communities.”  

The Conservatives were unable to comment as RN went to print.

Read more: New business rates proposal could relieve financial concern for retailers


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