Local Government Finance

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:04 pm on 22nd February 2017.

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Photo of Gareth Thomas Gareth Thomas Party Chair, Co-operative Party, Shadow Minister (Communities and Local Government) 4:04 pm, 22nd February 2017

I am glad the Minister got to his feet, because I was coming on to his performance yesterday in Committee. Given the deep and profound concerns about the business rates revaluation, it was a little surprising for the Secretary of State to send out his Minister to reject the idea that any change to business rates was necessary. His spokesperson was still being quoted yesterday as claiming that business concerns were just scaremongering.

In 2005, PricewaterhouseCoopers tracked the tax liabilities of Britain’s biggest companies and found that half of the total came from corporation tax, while just 11% came from business rates. Today, corporation tax has fallen to 19.7% of tax paid by the top 100 group of companies, while the figure for business rates is 21%. Moving away from taxing revenue and profits, and increasing the tax share on businesses more reliant on bricks and mortar is surely going in the wrong direction given the rise of the digital economy.

I welcome the Secretary of State’s decision to have a review of the support for small businesses hit hardest by the business rates revaluation. I look forward to him being able to instruct his Minister, and encourage his hon. Friends, to support the amendment we have tabled to the Local Government Finance Bill on Report, requiring a full review of business rates and their impact on local government finance before the Bill comes into effect.