// PM Boris Johnson says Conservatives will help “overlooked” towns
// If re-elected, Conservatives plan to increase the business rate discount from 33 per cent to 50 per cent
// BRC says next government must “commit to wholesale reform of our broken business rates system”
The Conservatives have pledged to reduce business rates for small firms in order to help “left-behind” towns if they win the general election.
The plans would offer support to retailers as well as making it easier for local groups to buy community buildings such as post offices.
Boris Johnson promised measures to help “overlooked and left-behind” towns, and help people “put the heart back into the places they call home”.
The party said that if re-elected, it would increase the business rate discount available to smaller firms from 33 per cent to 50 per cent in 2020-2021.
In response to their announcement, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) said the proposals would “need to go much further” if there are to provide proper stimulus for saving England’s high streets.
“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 3 million retail workers are employed in businesses that will not benefit from today’s announcement,” said BRC director of business and regulation Tom Ironside.
“It is essential that the next government scraps ‘downwards transition’, which costs retailers £1.3 billion; 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,” added Ironside.
“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.”