The Conservative party has proposed to reduce business rates for smaller businesses, in order to support “left-behind” towns, if they win the general election.
The plans would offer support to businesses and the community, to keep the high streets open for business, save pubs and post offices, reconnect towns and villages to rail networks and invest in cycling and walking.
Boris Johnson said that many towns and villages in Britain are overlooked and “left behind”. When the UK voted to leave the EU in 2016, “communities felt their voices had been heard for the first time in decades and their lives would improve.”
He said: “We will invest in these communities and help people put the heart back into the places they call home. We need to get Brexit done so that we can unleash the potential of all our towns, cities and villages.”
In a response to the announcement, director of The British Retail Consortium (BRC), Tom Ironside, said: “While we welcome the extension of temporary support for small businesses, these measures need to go much further if they are to enable the successful reinvention of our high streets, particularly as the majority of the UK’s three million retail workers are employed in businesses that will not benefit from today’s announcement.
“It is essential that the next government scraps ‘downwards transition’, which costs retailers £1.3bn; freezes next year’s rates increase; and introduces an improvement relief to encourage investment in our high streets. These are vital first steps to support an industry that accounts for 5% of the economy, yet pays 25% of all business rates.”
He added: “To ensure the long-term vitality of our town and city centres, the next Government should follow the recommendations of the Treasury Select Committee and commit to wholesale reform of our broken business rates system.”