Reacting to the appointment of Rishi Sunak as Prime Minister, Vivienne King, Chair of the Shopkeepers’ Campaign and Revo Board Member said:
“Rishi Sunak has won praise from his peers for his economic credentials, but we are waiting to see if he can be the champion of the high streets that he presented to Conservative voters during the hustings.
“When questioned on what he would do for small businesses, Mr Sunak reaffirmed that he recognised that they are the beating hearts of the high streets.
“Mr Sunak agreed with one business owner’s diagnosis of business rates as ‘crippling’ and pointed out that it was the number one tax that businesses in the hospitality, retail and leisure sectors talked to him about as Chancellor.
“In Darlington, he acknowledged that the best way to support high streets and town centres is through business rates and committed to extending the 50% business rates relief scheme as Prime Minister.
“His comments are welcome and his commitment to the high street is admirable, but the fact remains that he did not bring in a permanent cut to business rates as promised during his tenure as Chancellor.
“As the Medium-Term Fiscal Statement approaches, he can prove his commitment to high streets and town centres by abolishing transitional relief and by stopping rates going up at the rate of inflation.”
NOTES TO EDITORS
At the Conservative Darlington Hustings, Mr Sunak was asked by a small business owner about what he would do to help small independent businesses:
Q: As a small business owner, one thing that cripples a lot of businesses is business rates. What would you do to help support small, independent businesses?
A: So, you’re right, I don’t know about your business, but particularly those businesses in the hospitality and retail sector. Those on our highstreets and in our town centres, that is the number one tax they talked to me about when I was Chancellor. That’s why in the pandemic, I did an enormous amount to help support that industry because I know how important it is to our communities, the jobs that it provides. It’s why this year, I cut business rates for those businesses by 50% as Chancellor. That’s the biggest tax cut on business rates outside of coronavirus we’ve ever seen in this country because I know it’s the number one thing that makes a difference. This autumn in the budget, we will do the same. And that’s what I’ve said because the tax cut we’ve put in place is just for this year. And in the autumn, we will need to set in place the business rates for the next few years. And the top of my mind is always going to be supporting our high streets and town centres, because they are the beating hearts of all our communities, all our market towns, all our villages, everything. They need our support. It’s the Conservative thing to do to make sure our communities are strong. The best way to help them is through business rates. That’s what I did as Chancellor, that’s what I’ll do as Prime Minister.