Speaking at the party’s conference in Brighton last week, the Labour leader said that he would also reverse a planned cut in corporation tax for larger companies.
In his keynote speech, Miliband added that he would freeze business rates for companies with a rateable value of less than £50,000 at 2014 levels for three years from 2015.
Neil Morgan, director and head of pubs at Christie+Co, said: “Reduction in business rates will obviously help add profit to the bottom line. It’s a good tonic for the pub industry.” He added: “The trouble is, what is said in conference rarely happens.”
Stephen Taylor, managing director at Guy Simmonds, also said he “cautiously welcomes” the comments.
“Any effort to lessen the burden is welcomed. We do think that business rates on pubs are too high. It’s quite a specialist system and needs a review. They have become a disproportionate burden.”
He pointed out that the typical pub will see a reduction in rates, not a freeze.
Simon Hall, director and head of pubs at Fleurets, added: “Any help would be beneficial, but I think if they come into power they would think again.”
The decision was welcomed by Colin Lambert, associate director at Savills, too. He said licensees need to make sure they do everything they can to find out if they can get any reduction.
However, John Webber, head of rating at Colliers International, said the Labour leader’s speech was a “sticking plaster rather than a cure”.
“Labour would, in effect, be helping businesses in more prosperous areas — such as London — that don’t necessarily need help, at the expense of those that do,” he said.
Jerry Schurder, Gerald Eve’s head of rating, said the proposal is “quite clever politically” as it “offers something that applies to most properties, but for which the costs are relatively modest”.