The cost of living crisis is being played out on our high streets. Shoppers are facing prices rising faster than their wages month-after-month, on top of the rising cost of essentials such as energy bills.
Businesses are facing their own version of this crisis: a cost-of-“doing business” crisis. Labour’s Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Wyre Forest, Dr Matt Lamb, has now found out that, because of inflation, business rates are going to increase in Wyre Forest by an average of £290 from next April, at a total cost to business across the UK of £700m. This is happening year-after-year; they have already gone up an average of £1,500 under David Cameron.
The choice for many shops, workshops, start-up businesses and others who pay business rates is to pass these increases on to their customers through higher prices – adding to the cost of living crisis – or face a continuing squeeze until they can no longer afford to stay in business.
If elected at the next General Election Labour will cut business rates in 2015 and freeze them in 2016. This will mean an average saving of nearly £450 on 1.5 million properties.
The measure will be fully funded by not going ahead with the government’s planned corporation tax cut for multinationals in 2015, a tax cut that would only benefit 80,000 businesses; under 2 per cent of British business.
Labour’s Parliamentary Candidate for Wyre Forest, Dr Matt Lamb, said:
“Labour’s pledge to cut and then freeze business rates will give businesses a much needed boost.
“Small businesses are the driving force behind future jobs and growth in Wyre Forest. They now account for more than half of the economy and most new jobs in the next 15 years will be created by businesses which don’t yet exist.
“But many small business owners are under real pressure because of business rate rises. Business rates are rising by an average of nearly £2,000 in this Parliament. There are 40,000 empty shops in the UK– 1 in 7 shops are sitting empty– blighting the UK’s high streets and town centres. You only have to visit the high street in Kidderminster, Bewdley or Stourport to see this. More than one in ten small businesses now say they spend the same or more on business rates as they do on rent.”
<span style="line-height:1.5;">Dr Matt Lamb is Labour Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Wyre Forest</span>