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Lib Dems demand a budget to “breathe new life” into local high streets

by Craig Martin on 9 March, 2020

Ahead of the budget, the Liberal Democrats are calling on the Chancellor to scrap business rates, replace them with a landowner levy and “breathe new life” into high streets in County Durham.

Acting Leader of the Liberal Democrats, Ed Davey, has warned that “the retail sector sounded the alarm bell on business rates a long time ago and Brexit has made these pressures even worse” and urged the Chancellor to fully adopt his party’s policy in the Budget.

The Liberal Democrats want to replace business rates with a commercial landowner levy, based on the value of the land only. This would take the cost off businesses and help support high streets. By taxing landowners rather than businesses, half a million small businesses across the country would be spared the burden of property taxation.

The proposals would cut taxes for businesses by 32% in County Durham.

Liberal Democrat spokesperson Craig Martin said:

“Many retailers and small businesses in Chester-le-Street are under pressure from economic uncertainty, the rise of online retail and the burden of business rates.

“It is the responsibility of the current Conservative Government to ensure that our businesses are able to thrive, but Ministers in Whitehall are not doing anywhere near enough.

“That is why Liberal Democrats are campaigning to create the environment needed for local businesses to grow and create jobs in Chester-le-Street. Our message is clear; every Liberal Democrat is another voice championing our town centres.”

Acting Leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey added:

“The Conservative government has ignored British high streets for too long by allowing the broken business rates system to continue. There is no more time to waste. The Chancellor must announce in the budget that he will adopt the Liberal Democrat policy now rather than simply consult to introduce it in the long term.

“The retail sector sounded the alarm bell on business rates a long time ago and Brexit has made these pressures even worse, as the Local Data Company’s closures figures show. Manufacturing faces similar struggles, where Johnson’s trade barriers are adding more costs on top of their already high business rates bill.

“The Government cannot afford to let two key sectors of our economy that employ millions get crushed between business rates and Brexit. The Liberal Democrats will keep pushing the Government to take urgent action in the upcoming budget.”

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