One in 10 businesses now pay as much in business rates as they do in rent. The increase in rates is one of the factors that has led to a cost of living crisis in this country not least as so many people run small businesses or work for them.
In 1973 there were one-million businesses in this country. That figures is now nearly five million and growing. This means that many of the jobs of the future will come from small businesses.
In the last few years, living standards have fallen. Prices have risen faster than pay for 39 out of the last 40 months just for starters. And for businesses, costs have gone up as the economy has struggled.
Energy bills have gone up for consumers by £300 a year but for businesses on average it’s £1,800 more that they have to pay in gas and electricity.
But one of the biggest increases in costs has been in business rates, which have gone up by nearly £2,000 a year on average.
The Conservatives and Lib Dems have made changes to the tax system for business but these changes raised taxes for most small businesses while cutting taxes for the larger businesses.
This government has repeatedly shown that they will stand up for big business and we have seen that by the way they have supported hedge funds and in the way that they have supported the big energy companies and done nothing to help ordinary people with their energy bills.
At a time of financial difficulties, business needs action that helps the many not just the few. After all, if we want more jobs for our young people, businesses need to thrive so they can create the jobs. That is why we need support for the smaller businesses on our high streets and elsewhere.
Labour will support small businesses as we recognise just how important they are to the success of our country. We have already said that we will freeze energy bills and of course that will help families and pensioners but it will also help businesses. And because we recognise just how important it is to support the small businesses in our communities, will cut business rates if we win the election in 2015.
I meet business owners in Formby, Melling, Aintree, Maghull and Crosby who all tell me just how much of a problem is caused by high business rates. I ran a small business before becoming an MP and I know only too well, just how tough it can be when your customers are struggling and don’t have much money to spend. I also know from experience just how much difference it can make if you can keep your costs down, often the difference between staying in business or going under.
Labour will cut business rates for small businesses in 2015 and will freeze business rates the year after leading to a saving of at least £450 per year for small businesses.
The government could get a grip on the cost of living crisis now but if they fail to do so, Labour will step in and take the action needed by small businesses and by householders.