Speaking in the House of Commons, Peter Aldous raises the crippling impact of business rates on Beales and calls for the forthcoming review of business rates to not only consider root and branch reform, but the replacement of rates as well.
This Government are committed to supporting high streets and local leaders up and down the country, and we are doing that through our £1 billion future high street fund, which is part of our larger £3.6 billion towns fund.
As this is our first questions after the festive season I want to take this opportunity to thank all the shopworkers who worked so hard over the Christmas period to enable us to deliver our Christmas presents—and particularly, if I may, Mr Speaker, the workers in the RSPCA shop on Bank Street who sold me the very natty tie I am wearing for 50p only last Friday.
Leading on from the issue raised by my fellow colleague from Suffolk, Beales has stores in both Lowestoft and Beccles in my constituency. It is clear that the crippling impact of business rates has been a significant contributory factor to the difficulties it is currently facing. I acknowledge the rates relief the Government have provided to smaller businesses, but may I urge my right hon. Friend to ensure, in the review of business rates that is due to take place, that the Government not only consider root and branch reform but the replacement of rates, too?
My hon. Friend, as a chartered surveyor, is an expert in this area and, like our parliamentary colleague, he has campaigned vigorously and continuously. In terms of the review, everything is going to be reviewed. It will be a joint review between my Department and the Treasury. All ideas, from all sides of the House, about how we improve the health of our high streets and our business community more generally, will certainly be taken on board.
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