Anne Main calls for further reform of business rates to help struggling high streets

4th March 2019

Anne Main raises concerns about the future of the high street as office space is turned over to residential and, particularly in high value areas, shops struggle with high business rates.

In high-value areas such as St Albans, previous planning reforms have meant that office space has been turned over to residential. Couple that with high business rates and there is a serious danger of losing much of our high streets in many areas similar to mine. What more can be done to help on business rates? The £51,000 limit is welcome, but it has not helped many of my businesses in St Albans.

The reduction in business rates for shops with a rateable value under £51,000 is, of course, part of a wider package. My hon. Friend, as a campaigner for her high streets, will appreciate that the change from the retail prices index to the consumer prices index, and the other changes to make revaluations more frequent—[Interruption.]

Order. The hon. Member for Bedford (Mohammad Yasin) must not beetle out of the Chamber in the middle of the exchanges on his question. I know he has asked his question, but there are further questions on the matter. I feel certain that he is interested in not only what he has had to ask, but the views expressed by other Members.

You never know, Mr Speaker, but the hon. Gentleman might be interested in what I have to say, although I doubt it. [Interruption.]

The Whip says that the Minister is pushing his luck, but he must not get down on himself. People should be interested in hearing what the Minister has to say. The hon. Member for Bedford has, belatedly, stayed after all and we are pleased about that.

This is not just about the help the Government have set out on business rates; it is also about ensuring that high streets can remain fit for the future. It is all very well for the Opposition Front-Bench team to scoff against the free market, as they did during my response earlier, but let us not forget that the people who ply their trade and work as retailers on the high street are the embodiment of all that is good about British entrepreneurship.




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