19. What recent assessment he has made of levels of business rates for small and medium-sized businesses. (901216)
Thanks to this Government’s tax cuts, small business rate relief has been trebled—it was worth about £900 million in the past year—and more than a third of a million small firms also now pay no business rates bill at all.
That is interesting, as business rates have risen by an average of nearly £2,000 this Parliament. A future Labour Government would give small firms and businesses a rates cut and would then freeze rates the following year. Will the Minister inform the House how much business rates are set to rise by in 2014 under this Government’s plans?
Let me give a slight correction, because obviously business rates have only moved with inflation; there has been no real-terms increase in business rates at all under this Government. We have also trebled small business rate relief, so helping small businesses in a way that the previous Government simply did not do. As the hon. Gentleman will no doubt realise, there will be a decision on the business rates for next year in the Chancellor’s autumn statement in December.