The Labour party’s promise to freeze business rates has been welcomed by the retail industry.
At the Labour conference in Brighton, Ed Miliband pledged that if his party wins the 2015 election, it would move business rates back to 2014 levels and freeze them until 2016.
It would pay for this freeze by reversing a planned cut in corporation tax from 21% to 20% which is due to come into effect in April 2015
Labour estimates the business rates freeze could be worth up to £2,000 over two years for small firms.
Association of Convenience Stores chief executive James Lowman welcomed the promise but warned that the entire system needs examination. “Reducing business rates for smaller shops on high streets and in neighborhoods would benefit tens of thousands of convenience stores,” he said. “We will work with opposition and the Government to make proposals for tackling the rates burden workable. Immediate action is vital, but it must be accompanied by a commitment to a fundamental review of the business rates system.”
Forum of Private Business head of policy Alex Jackman said: “Taking money from a proposed business tax to fund a different tax cut isn’t an ideal way to fund the policy but importantly it recognises a significant rising cost facing many British small businesses.”
Miliband also promised to freeze energy prices for every home and business in the UK from May 2015 to January 2017 and abolish the regulator Ofgem, if the Labour party is elected.