Labour pledges to 'revamp' empty pubs and replace business rates

By Rebecca Weller

- Last updated on GMT

Five-point plan: Labour pledges to "breathe life" back into Britain's high streets (Credit: Getty/Philip Openshaw)
Five-point plan: Labour pledges to "breathe life" back into Britain's high streets (Credit: Getty/Philip Openshaw)

Related tags Legislation Finance Property

Labour has pledged to “revamp” empty pubs and replace “archaic and unfair” business rates with a new system in a bid to rejuvenate Britain’s high streets.

The “full force of a Labour Government” would “breathe life” back into the nation’s high streets after “14-years of Tory decline”, the party said as it launched a new plan to “rescue retailers”.

On a visit to Tees Valley tomorrow (Wednesday 10 April), Labour’s deputy leader, shadow chancellor, and shadow home secretary will unveil the five-point scheme.

The proposals include the introduction of a new business rates system to “level the playing field”, stamping out late payments and “revamping” boarded up pubs.

Labour deputy leader and shadow communities secretary Angela Rayner MP said: “Our town and city centres are an untapped strength of Britain’s economy."

National renewal

Labour's five-point plan in full:

1. Tackle anti-social behaviour and shoplifting​: so people feel safe when they go out to shop, eat or socialise in their local high street, putting 13,000 more neighbourhood police and PCSOs back on the beat and scrapping the Tories’ £200 rule which stops shoplifting being investigated.

2. Roll out banking hubs​: thriving high streets need banking services for local businesses and customers. Labour will roll out banking hubs to guarantee face-to-face banking in every community boosting local high streets and shops.

3. Replace business rates​: Labour will replace business rates with a new system of business property taxation which rebalances the burden and levels the playing field between our high streets and online giants.

4. Stamp out late payment​: small and independent retailers shouldn’t be forced to wait months to be paid for work by big clients. Labour would introduce tough new laws to stamp out late payments and make sure more money gets to high street firms.

5. Revamp empty shops, pubs and community spaces​: people won’t visit high streets blighted by unsightly boarded up shops. Labour will give communities a strong new ‘right to buy’ beloved community assets to revamp high streets and end the blight of empty premises.

She added: “Yet across the country the paint is peeling, the pavements are cracking, and people just aren’t getting what they want when they visit town.

“Tory chaos has cost the country dearly, and every region has paid the price.

“Labour will use the full force of Government to get behind our high streets and spark the decade of national renewal that communities deserve.”

Rachel Reeves MP, shadow Chancellor, added high streets are the “lifeblood” of communities nationwide but have been “neglected”.

“Labour will breathe new life into our high streets. We’ll create the conditions to get retailers thriving again by replacing business rates, opening hundreds of banking hubs across the country and stamping out late payments to get them paid on time.

“No one expects a return to the past, but Labour’s plan can get our town centres booming again by tackling these problems that are holding them back”, she said.

Heart of communities 

Reacting to the announcement, UKHospitality (UKH) deputy chief executive Allen Simpson shared the trade body was “pleased to see” the focus on high streets and “fixing the broken business rates system”.

He continued: “Hospitality helps create places where people want to live, work and invest, but too often policies make it expensive to run businesses in the heart of communities. 

“The current business rates system is archaic and unfairly penalises businesses that have a physical presence in communities, like hospitality. It’s clear the current system is in urgent need of reform.

“We need to see Governments in Westminster, Edinburgh and Cardiff, alongside local authorities, do all they can to rebalance and reduce the costs that businesses are paying.

“Reforming business rates is an ideal place to start and will enable businesses to spend more of their available cash on investment, rather than just paying the bills.”

Related topics Legislation

Related news