Labour vows to reform business rates if elected as new government

Rachel Reeves

Labour has promised to reform business rates if elected as the new UK government ahead of July’s general election.

As part of its plans for small businesses, the party said it would introduce a new system that will “level the playing field between the high street and online giants.”

Shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves told the BBC that Labour “want to reform the business rate system in a way that reduces the costs for small businesses and high streets, ensuring that some of the big multinationals and tech companies pay their fair share.”

Industry insiders have been calling for a business rates reform for several years, declaring the current system as “out of date” and “unfit for purpose.”

British Retail Consortium’s Helen Dickinson comments: “With an election only weeks away, political parties have a role to play too by having policies that mean retailers can invest in rejuvenating shopping destinations across the UK. A broken business rates system and outdated planning laws are holding back the industry – politicians of all stripes must address these issues. This will boost economic growth, lift consumer spirits, and help drive more shoppers back to our high streets and other retail destinations.”

Part of Labour’s other plans to support small businesses if elected include tackling anti-social behaviour through the introduction of new town centre police patrols, stamping out late payment of invoices to small businesses and boosting small business exports by publishing a trade strategy.

Read its full list of Labour’s proposed measures below:

Labour’s plans to support small businesses

  • Guarantee small businesses access to banking services on their high street, including safely depositing cash, by changing regulations to accelerate the rollout of banking hubs.
  • ⁠Replace the business rates system, with a new system that will level the playing field between the high street and online giants.
  • ⁠Revitalise Britain’s high streets by tackling anti-social behaviour through the introduction of new town centre police patrols
  • Make the UK the best place to start-up and scale-up by unlocking the supply of finance for businesses looking to grow.
  • Stamp out late payment of invoices to small businesses, requiring large businesses to better report on their payment practices to expose late payers.
  • Open up competition to public contracts, giving small businesses the fairer chance they deserve to compete in tenders by requiring at least one SME to be shortlisted when smaller contracts go to tender.
  • Boost small business exports by publishing a trade strategy and delivering clear advice to get new businesses exporting
  • Give a new direction for skills and addressing skills shortages by creating Skills England and working with local industry to ensure local people have the skills they want including new Technical Excellence Colleges.
  • Make Britain a Clean Energy Superpower and cutting energy bills for small business and creating thousands of opportunities from tradespeople.

According to the latest data, Sir Keir Starmer’s Labour is still significantly ahead in the opinion polls at 44 per cent. The Conservatives, meanwhile, are currently at 23.4 per cent followed by Reform (11.9 per cent), Liberal Democrats (9.7 per cent) and the Green party (5.7 per cent).