SME pledge

Labour to axe business rates, tackle late payments

Sir Keir Starmer: SMEs are the beating heart of growth (pic: Terry Murden / DB Media Services)

Labour says it will scrap business rates and crackdown on late payments as part of a package of measures to help small businesses.

It also wants to help them compete for public contracts, Labour said in a statement last night.

The party is also planning to boost small business exports by publishing a trade strategy and delivering clear advice to get new businesses exporting, and tackle anti-social behaviour with town centre police patrols.

It says that scrapping business rates will level the playing field between the high street and online retailers.

The changes to business rates will be widely welcomed, though Labour has not said what system it would introduce as a replacement. The business rates system is also devolved to Scotland and any new tax would need to be negotiated with the Scottish government.

The Conservatives are promising to axe stamp duty for first time buyers, which is also devolved to Scotland as the land and buildings transaction tax.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer will today launch Labour’s plan for Britain’s small business entrepreneurs, with what it says are new “fully-funded and fully-costed policies”.

He will be joined by Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves, Shadow Business Secretary Jonathan Reynolds and other members of the Shadow Cabinet as they take Labour’s Small Business Saturday across the country to promote the plan.

Labour’s plan has the backing of business leaders including Dragons’ Den investors Deborah Meaden and Theo Paphitis as well as small business owners up and down the country.

As part of the policy package, the Labour leader has outlined plans for the party to introduce new legislation and regulatory reforms designed to significantly benefit small businesses.

Measures include eradicating the late payment of invoices to small businesses, to ensure timely compensation for their services and enhancing market opportunities by facilitating greater access for small businesses to compete for public contracts.

Furthermore, the policies aim to ensure that small businesses have guaranteed access to essential banking services in their local high streets, fostering a more supportive financial environment for these enterprises. 

Announcing the plan, Sir Keir said: “Travelling across the country, I meet so many small business owners who work day in, day out, to grow and innovate. Their entrepreneurial courage to take a risk and serve their area is what stitches the fabric of local communities together.

“From the women entrepreneurs I met in Swindon to the distillers in Scotland, small businesses are the beating heart of driving growth and creating jobs for local people.

“But Conservative chaos over the past 14 years has inflicted a deep and lasting cost on small business owners through economic instability and sky-rocketing energy bills. Through no fault of their own, hard-working small businesses have been held back by a tired Tory party that has failed to provide the stability and certainly business needs to thrive.

“It’s no wonder that businesses across the country are crying out for change. Whether it’s from cafe owners, suppliers or builders, time and again I hear that call for stability and growth in our economy.

“That’s what my Labour government will deliver as a first step for change. We will drive down energy prices. We will unlock access to finance for business. We will stamp out late payments. And we’ll guarantee access to banks on the high street. Because only Labour has a plan to back British businesses to the hilt.

“Only Labour can stop the chaos, turn the page, and rebuild Britain.”

Mr Reynolds, said: “With our first steps for government, the Labour Party will focus on what matters to small businesses to deliver change. Stamping out late payments, ridding our high streets of anti-social behaviour, and creating economic stability.

“There’s a clear choice at this election for small business owners: more chaos with the Tories, or stability with Labour. More decline and division, or hope and unity with a changed Labour Party.”

Labour’s plan for small business will

  • 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.

in order to create a level playing field between high street and online retailers.



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