Lib Dems commit to scrapping business rates to boost high streets

The party said business rates would be replaced with ‘a new, fairer levy’ that would be paid by the owner of the premises, rather than the tenant.

Claudia Savage
Tuesday 09 April 2024 00:01 BST
Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey accused the Conservatives of ‘broken promises’ on business taxes (Andrew Matthews/PA)
Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey accused the Conservatives of ‘broken promises’ on business taxes (Andrew Matthews/PA) (PA Wire)

Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey is to call for business rates to be scrapped in a bid to boost high streets.

During a visit to Tunbridge Wells in Kent on Tuesday, he will accuse the Conservatives of “broken promises” on business taxes and outline his party’s plans ahead of the May local elections.

The commuter belt town will be a major electoral battleground between the Lib Dems and the Tory Party when voters head to the polls next month.

Our tax reforms will slash the burden on struggling high street shop owners, and instead ensure landowners pay their fair share

Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey

Sir Ed will call for business rates to be scrapped for high streets, in what the party says will be a major boost for towns and rural areas.

The key Lib Dem policy will aim to reduce the tax burden for many high street shops.

Sir Ed said: “It is time to put an end to unfair taxes on our treasured high streets. For too long salons, shops and cafes have faced unfair tax bills on top of rising energy bills.

“High streets are the life and soul of our communities, but for too long they have been ignored and let down by this Conservative Government. We must restore our town centres by taking bold action.

“The Conservative Party has broken promises made to high street businesses. Yet again this is further proof that Conservative manifestos are not worth the paper they are written on.

“Our tax reforms will slash the burden on struggling high street shop owners, and instead ensure landowners pay their fair share.

“Only the Liberal Democrats have a credible plan for reforming business taxes.”

The party said rates would be replaced with “a new, fairer levy” that would be paid by the owner of the premises, rather than the tenant.

The Lib Dems have said they would stop tenants paying business rates, and instead require the owner of the building, who has often benefited from rising land values, to pay a new Commercial Landowner Levy.

Those landowners who face a tax increase would see their new bills phased in over four years.

Under the proposals local authorities would still be able to keep 50% of tax returns from businesses.

The party has further called for an end to government cuts to local authority budgets to protect local services.

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