Labour takes aim at Amazon as party pledges to scrap business rates

27 September 2021, 15:22 | Updated: 27 September 2021, 15:25

Labour shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves and leader Sir Keir Starmer at the party conference on Monday
Labour shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves and leader Sir Keir Starmer at the party conference on Monday. Picture: Getty

By James Morris

Labour has suggested it will target companies such as Amazon as it announced plans to scrap business rates if it wins power.

Speaking at the party conference in Brighton today, shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves pledged the “biggest overhaul of business taxation in a generation”.

She said scrapping business rates, the tax paid by companies, is part of Labour’s plans for a “thriving high street” in “every community”.

Ms Reeves said rates would be replaced with a business taxation system “fair for the 21st century” as she took aim at Amazon and its founder, Jeff Bezos.

She promised public services and local authorities would not lose out – and suggested it will be large online retailers facing tax hikes.

She asked: “How can it be that bricks-and-mortar high street businesses are taxed more heavily than online giants?

“High street businesses pay more than a third of business rates despite making up only 15 per cent of our overall economy.

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“But when Amazon’s revenues went up by £2billion last year, how much did their taxes go up by? Less than one per cent.”

Referring to Amazon’s multi-billionaire founder Bezos’s recent trip to space, Ms Reeves said: “If you can afford to fly to the moon, you can afford to pay your taxes here on planet earth.”

Elsewhere in the speech, Ms Reeves also pledged to end the tax relief afforded to private schools due to their charitable status.