Our £1 billion business rates support package includes a £1,000 discount for smaller shops, pubs and restaurants. That will benefit more than 300,000 premises in England, including 430 in Cherwell and 580 in Dover. We are also doubling small business rate relief for a further year, which will benefit about 575,000 businesses, with 385,000 businesses paying no rates at all. That will help 1,100 small businesses in Cherwell, and 1,300 small businesses in Dover.
Has not the introduction of the business rate retention scheme given local authorities the ability to offer business rate discounts to help attract firms, investment and jobs? Is not the fact that local authorities now directly and locally retain half the business rates a strong incentive for councils to encourage businesses and enterprises to set up in their areas?
Councils have a huge responsibility to promote local businesses, whether that involves getting the skill set right or using the discretionary powers that we have given them. I know that businesses and councils, particularly Conservative councils across the country, are responding positively.
May I welcome all the Government have done to help high streets such as that of Deal, in my constituency? Will Ministers condemn the Local Government Association group leader who has been going up and down the land telling councils to hike taxes and business rates, which will devastate our high streets and increase the cost of food?
I congratulate my hon. Friend on his work to promote Deal high street, which has been a tremendous success. Most recently, Deal topped the polls as Britain’s best coastal town as voted for by readers of The Daily Telegraph. The instinct of the Labour party is to tax businesses, ours is to encourage and grow local businesses by offering tax breaks.