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Labour vows to ‘pull up shutters’ for small business

Business rates are a tax on non-residential property such as pubs, restaurants, warehouses, factories, shops and offices.

The amount businesses pay is based on how much annual rent could be charged on the premises – which is known as the rateable value.

Central government has a significant degree of control over business rates in England, but they are collected by local councils.

On Saturday, shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves told the BBC 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”.

The party would also create “banking hubs” to ensure small business and customers have ready access to cash when on the High Street, Ms Reeves said.

As part of a package of measures, Labour says it would stamp out the late payment of invoices via new legislation to force large businesses reveal their payment practices, as well as revitalising High Streets by cracking down on antisocial behaviour.

Labour also plans new laws to allow smaller firms to qualify for public contracts.

It is seeking to claim the mantle as the party of business, that’s traditionally associated with the Conservatives.

Ms Reeves was joined on the campaign trail by retail guru Mary Portas, who has switched to Labour after advising David Cameron’s coalition government on how to revive High Streets in 2010.

Ms Portas said High Streets were vital to “communities and their wellbeing”.

She described small business as “the backbone of our economy” which were “left behind terribly” during the Covid-19 pandemic, when shopping habits moved online.

Ms Portas also praised plans to crack down on late payments as “cash flow is vital” to independent businesses.

Previous research by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), external has suggested that more than half of small businesses it surveyed in 2022 had experienced late payments in the three previous months.

Tina McKenzie, policy chair at the FSB said it was “good to see late payment addressed by Labour” and that eyes would now “turn towards its manifesto launch to see if the party takes a pro-small business approach”.

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