Sunak vows to slash business rates

By Gary Lloyd

- Last updated on GMT

Pledge made: Rishi Sunak will target business rates if elected
Pledge made: Rishi Sunak will target business rates if elected

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PM candidate Rishi Sunak has vowed to slash business rates if he is elected as the next Conservative party leader.

Speaking at a hustings in Darlington on Wednesday (10 August), he said cutting business rates and supporting high streets would be “top of my mind” if he were to beat Liz Truss in the battle for No10.

Sunak said he was committed to extending the current 50% discount on business rates in his first Budget.

He said: “In the autumn, we will need to set in place the business rates for the next few years and the top of my mind is always going to be supporting our high streets and town centres.”

Beating hearts

Sunak continued: “Because they are the beating hearts of all our communities, all our market towns, all our villages, everything. They need our support.

“Particularly those businesses in the hospitality and the retail sector, those on our high streets and our town centres, that is the number one tax they talked to me about when I was chancellor.

“That’s why, in the pandemic, I did an enormous amount to help support that industry, because I know how important it is to our communities, the jobs that it provides.

“It’s the Conservative thing to do to make sure our communities are strong. The best way to help them is through business rates. That’s what I did as chancellor and that’s what I’ll do as Prime Minister.”

Call to address issue

The former chancellor of the exchequer’s comments came after a call from retail business leaders to both candidates to address business rates, which they said were “killing our high streets”.

The Retail Jobs Alliance, which consists of Tesco, Co-op, Greggs, Kingfisher, Morrisons, RivingtonHark, Sainsbury’s and Waterstones, has warned companies are facing an increase in their business rates bill next April of about 10% from inflation alone.

In a letter to Sunak and Liz Truss, the group said: “A permanent reduction in business rates for all retailers, regardless of their size, would make a big difference to retailers’ ability to invest more in shops and stores as well as to create jobs.”

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