Starmer plans business rates overhaul as he pledges to ‘pulls up the shutters’ for Britain’s entrepreneurs

7 June 2024, 23:32

Labour Party leader Keir Starmer
Labour Party leader Keir Starmer. Picture: Getty

By Charlie Duffield

Keir Starmer has vowed to "pull up the shutters" for British entrepreneurs in an election offering to small businesses.

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Sir Keir is expected to criticise the Conservatives' record as he unveils measures like overhauling the business rates system to help high street shops compete with larger companies and stamping out late payment of invoices by forcing large businesses to report on their payment practices.

Other measures include guaranteeing access to high street banking services by establishing 'banking hubs' and cracking down on anti-social behaviour to help revitalise high streets.

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Keir Starmer
Keir Starmer. Picture: Getty

Sir Keir said: "Travelling across the country, I meet so many small business owners who work day in, day out, to grow and innovate.

"Their entrepreneurial courage to take a risk and serve their area is what stitches the fabric of local communities together.

"From the women entrepreneurs I met in Swindon to the distillers in Scotland, small businesses are the beating heart of driving growth and creating jobs for local people."

Tina McKenzie, policy chair at the Federation of Small Businesses, said it was "good to see late payment addressed by Labour" and eyes would now "turn towards its manifesto launch to see if the party takes a pro-small business approach".

She said: "Our snap election poll shows that the majority of the UK's 5.5 million small business votes are up for grabs."

Ms McKenzie added: "As the election gets into its final stage, it's crucial political parties reassure small businesses on tax, on protecting small business apprenticeships, and on having the right legislative environment to support growth."

Labour's plan is also being backed by businesspeople like Dragon's Den investors Deborah Meaden and Theo Paphitis.

Labour’s Shadow Business Secretary Jonathan Reynolds said: "With our first steps for government, the Labour Party will focus on what matters to small businesses to deliver change.

"Stamping out late payments, ridding our high streets of anti-social behaviour, and creating economic stability."

The Conservative's business minister Kevin Hollinrake said: "Labour remain committed to imposing Angela Rayner's French-style union laws that would hammer our vital small businesses.

"Labour's policies would reduce flexible working and pile new regulations onto small companies, destroying jobs alongside their £2,094 tax raid on hardworking families.

"Rishi Sunak and the Conservatives have a record of taking bold action to support small businesses, including freezing business rates, helping small business owners gain the skills they need, and lifting more small businesses out of paying VAT."

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