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Business Rates

Volume 585: debated on Monday 8 September 2014

5. How many shops in (a) England and (b) Stevenage constituency have benefited from the reduction in business rates. (905202)

6. How many shops in (a) England, (b) Norwich local authority area and (c) Broadland local authority area have benefited from the reduction in business rates. (905203)

10. How many shops in (a) England and (b) Stourbridge constituency have benefited from the reduction in business rates. (905208)

We are providing £1 billion for the business rates support package, including a £1,000 discount for smaller shops, businesses and restaurants. We estimate that about 300,000 retail premises will benefit from this discount in England, including more than 1,000 retail premises in Bury; nearly 400 retail premises in Stevenage; more than 800 in East Hertfordshire and 600 in North Hertfordshire; more than 1,000 retail premises in Norwich and 300 in Broadland; and 1,000 retail premises in Dudley.

I thank the Minister for that reply. Does he agree that the business rate relief, together with the new employment allowance, makes a vital contribution to maintaining the viability of parades of small shops such as those on Mile lane in my constituency?

It is important to recognise that the Department is playing a role, as are the rest of Government, to get business going, to make sure that communities can stand on their own feet and to support very small businesses. That is why a £1,000 discount this year and next year will help those businesses.

I am delighted that the Minister has given local authorities the power to review and reduce business rates locally. I have teamed up with a local accountancy firm in Stevenage to launch a campaign to help businesses to do just that. Will the Minister support that campaign, and does he agree it is ridiculous that many small businesses in my constituency pay more in business rates to Stevenage borough council than they do in rents to their landlords?

I know that my hon. Friend is absolutely passionate about supporting people in Stevenage and that he is ruthless in pursuit of the Labour council, which yet again has failed local businesses. I am sure we can offer our support to his campaign and those businesses.

This tax cut for small shops, pubs, cafés and restaurants is already getting real help to hundreds of businesses in my constituency, and I think it is sad—perhaps the Minister agrees with me—that no Opposition Members rise to support it. Would the Minister like to give a message to Dixie’s café in my constituency—a regular pit stop for hungry Conservative canvassers—about the bill change that it already welcomes?

As my hon. Friend observes, and as many of us have seen, the Labour party is not business-friendly, unlike those campaigners who are supporting Dixie’s café and are out seeking to secure a Conservative majority while buying coffee and bacon sandwiches from what I am sure is a fantastic local shop.

Lower business rates are undoubtedly a factor in the recovery of high streets in my constituency of Stourbridge. Will my hon. Friend update the House on how many shops have benefited from the additional discretionary and hardship rate relief powers made available to local authorities by the Localism Act 2011?

Unfortunately, I cannot give my hon. Friend those details, because we do not record them. We should, however, recognise that this £1 billion package is part of the Government’s response to ensure that we have more businesses and more jobs. The £1,000 discount for local businesses this year and next year has had the successful impact of bringing 1.8 million people into employment, and that is a direct consequence of this Government’s intervention.