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Labour to launch five-point plan to ‘revitalise’ local high streets

By Rachel Douglass


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Leeds high street. Image: Unsplash

The UK’s Labour party has outlined a new five-point plan to “revitalise local high streets”, after the sector took a hit due to rising inflation, costly energy bills and offsets of the pandemic.

Among its efforts, the party said it would launch a Police Efficiency and Collaboration Programme that aims to combat anti-social behaviour and “deliver over 350 million pounds in procurement” to be used to fund neighbourhood police.

Additionally, the plan also looks to cut business rates for small businesses on the high street, as well as introduce “tough new laws” to eradicate late payments to ensure more money gets to high street firms. It would further allow local councils to “bring empty shops on their high streets back into use”.

It comes after Keir Starmer said that high streets had been “held back by 13 years of Tory economic failure”, with the Labour leader blaming the conservative party for crashing the economy and forcing businesses to pay the price of higher interest rates.

Starmer added in a statement: “With our five-point plan, Labour will work in partnership with businesses and local communities to get our high streets thriving again.”

BRC welcomes plan but calls for additional freeze on business rates

In response, the British Retail Consortium’s (BRC) chief executive, Helen Dickinson, seemed to welcome the plan, stating that she believed it was “positive” to see Labour focus on some of the aspects needed to ensure a successful transformation of high streets, including targeting empty shops.

Dickinson noted, however, that more could still be done in order to ensure strong recovery, calling on the government to implement a permanent freeze on business rates in order to reflect the modern retail landscape.

She added: “It is vital that solutions for thriving high streets are fully considered, don’t add complexity or cost to retailers and recognise the nature of modern retailing, whereby the majority of retailers sell both online and in stores.

“Retail accounts for 5 percent of the economy but pays more than one-fifth of business rates. The overall industry tax take is unsustainably high and contributes to shop closures, job losses and stifled investment.

“There must be a permanent freeze of business rates and a cut to the multiplier in the longer term: it’s crucial that any business rates reform reflects how modern retail works, and lowers the burden for retailers of all sizes.”

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