The Conservatives, Labour Party and Liberal Democrats have all promised to reform the business rates system if they are elected into office come June.

With one in three retailers recording an increase in rates since the revaluation, the ACS – who have been campaigning strongly on the issue – welcomed their responses.

At present, only 39 out of 326 local authorities have provided discretionary rate relief to local businesses using powers contained in the Localism Act.

The commitments made by the major parties are below:

  • Labour: “[We will] introduce a package of reforms to business rates – including switching from RPI to CPI indexation, exempting new investment in plant and machinery from valuations, and ensuring that businesses have access to a proper appeals process – while reviewing the entire business rates system in the longer run.”
  • Liberal Democrats: “Reviewing the Business Rates system, prioritising reforms that recognise the development of the digital economy, lessening the burden on smaller businesses, and ensuring high streets remain competitive. We will also consider the implementation of Land Value Taxation.”
  • Conservatives: “We will make sure that revaluations are conducted more frequently to avoid large changes to the bills that businesses face, and explore the introduction of self-assessments in the valuation process. To ensure the system is sustainable for the future we will also conduct a full review of the business rates system to make sure it is up to date for a world in which people increasingly shop online.”
  • Plaid Cymru: “Plaid Cymru will put an end to the unfair business rates system, by moving towards a turnover-based system.”

Chief Executive of the ACS, James Lowman, said: “We have been campaigning for many years for proper reform of a business rates system that is out of date, costly and unfair for thousands of local shops and other small businesses.”

“We welcome the commitments from the major party manifestos on reforming the business rates system, and will work closely with the next Government to ensure that there is an effective and long lasting approach to setting business rates that promotes high streets, incentivises investment and better reflects changes in the business property market so that everyone pays their fair share.”

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