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General Election 2017

Tories promise long-term reforms to business rates system

By Georgina Townshend , 18-May-2017
Last updated on 18-May-2017 at 18:02 GMT2017-05-18T18:02:49Z

'Considerable challenges': Tories promise to make longer-term business rates reforms Photo Credit: Jay Allen
'Considerable challenges': Tories promise to make longer-term business rates reforms Photo Credit: Jay Allen

The Conservative Party has admitted that the business rates system “presents considerable challenges” to small businesses and has promised to make longer-term reforms in its pre-election manifesto.

The official document, published today (18 May), has pledged to back small businesses and conduct a full review of the business rates system to make sure it is “up to date”.

With “concerns about the way business rates currently work”, the party has also committed to making sure revaluations are conducted more frequently to avoid large changes in bills.

British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) chief executive Brigid Simmonds said the proposals on business rates “strongly echo” changes the BBPA has been calling for.

Immigration

The party has said it plans on slashing immigration to the tens of thousands, a move that has previously been critised by pub giant JD Wetherspoon and the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR).

The manifesto also pledges to increase the levy on skilled immigrants to £2,000 per worker for non-EU workers identified in areas of skills shortages.

The document states the reason immigration should be controlled and reduced is because when "immigration is too fast and too high, it is difficult to build a cohesive society”.

While the ALMR has welcomed steps to reform rates, it has warned that any immigration system that includes a tax on jobs will undermine businesses’ ability to invest.

ALMR chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “Control of future immigration could be a problem for employers if the target is set prohibitively low, particularly as we are in a position of almost full employment in the UK.”

Champion of free trade

The Conservative party has said it wants to be “the world’s foremost champion of free trade” in the manifesto.

The document explains that the party will seek to replicate all existing EU free trade agreements and support the ratification of trade agreements entered into during the UK’s EU membership.

“The United Kingdom will be a global champion for an open economy, free trade, and the free flow of investment, ideas and information,” it reads.

“Open and free trade is key to international prosperity, stability and security – it is an essential component of an economy that works for everyone.

“We believe the UK must seize the unique opportunities it has to forge a new set of trade and investment relationships around the world, building a global, outward-looking Britain.”

Beer duty hopes

The manifesto said it would continue to support small businesses through business rates relief and low taxation, and by reducing the “bureaucracy and regulation that prevents small businesses from flourishing”.

In response, Simmonds said: “I hope the overall emphasis on lower taxes will be extended to beer duty, where we strongly need a more competitive regime, as we move towards Brexit. Also, to this end, plans to support exports are also very welcome.”

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