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Business Rates

Volume 576: debated on Monday 3 March 2014

At the end of last year, the Government announced a £1 billion business rates support package, which includes a £1,000 discount for smaller shops, pubs and restaurants, and a 50% discount for businesses taking on long-term empty shops, and which doubles small business relief for another year, helping just over 500,000 small businesses.

What help does the Minister think the £1,000 cut in business rates will provide to Deal in my constituency? As he knows, Deal was recently named as having the high street of the year.

My hon. Friend is quite right. I enjoyed visiting Deal recently to see the success that it has made of its high street, with small independent shops working together with the town council and the local authority. The £1,000 discount will be important, particularly to those small independent shops, and it comes on top of the national insurance benefit that they will get from April. That means that they will have a lower cost line and therefore be able to take more income that they can use to reinvest and, I hope, to employ more people, and so see Deal go from strength to strength.

The reality is that, despite what the Minister says, business rates have risen by £1,500 on average since the last election and are due to rise by a further £270. It is the straw that is breaking the back of many local businesses. When will he really do something about it, instead of just bluster?

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his question, because it allows me just gently to remind him that, under the Labour Government, I do not remember any Opposition Members looking completely to review business rates or to do something about them—unlike this Government, who have just announced a £1 billion package, particularly to help businesses in and around our high streets to go from strength to strength, because we care about our high streets and the communities they serve.