Lib Dems Vow To Reform Business Rates

The Liberal Democrats have vowed to replace the business rates system with a “commercial landowner levy” as part of their election manifesto.

In the section of the party’s manifesto called ‘A fair deal on the economy’, the Liberal Democrats said: “We will support entrepreneurs, back small businesses and reform business rates.”

The party said it would do this by introducing a commercial landowner levy to “reduce the financial burden on high street business and encourage investment in local retail areas”. The commercial landowner levy, first proposed by the Liberal Democrats in 2018, would be payable by landlords and calculated on the value of the land their tenants occupy.

The manifesto also includes a promise to increase the digital services tax “on social media firms and other tech giants from 2% to 6%”, and a pledge to extend the soft drinks levy to juice- and milk-based drinks that are high in added sugar.

The manifesto said the party would introduce a deposit return scheme for food and drink bottles and containers across the UK, “working with the devolved administrations to ensure consistency… learning the lessons from the difficulties with the Scottish scheme”.

The party added that it would establish an independent review to “recommend a genuine living wage across all sectors with government departments and all public sector employers taking a leading role in paying it”.

An energy framework proposed by the party will require all businesses listed on UK stock exchanges to set targets consistent with achieving the net zero goal and to report on their progress. It pledges to support businesses to invest in training, digital technologies and becoming more energy efficient.

CAMRA Chairman Nik Antona said:
“It is encouraging to see commitments to overhauling the broken business rates system in England which is desperately needed to help save our pubs, as well as on strengthening powers to allow community assets like pubs to be protected and introducing a dedicated Minister for Hospitality and Tourism.

“Whilst the devil will be in the detail, the Liberal Democrats plans to replace the current business rates system with a new Commercial Landowner Levy based on land value rather than entire capital value could see more proportionate business taxes for the hospitality sector in many parts of the country and an end to the current system which disincentives investment in pubs.

“It is vital that the next Government radically reforms the business rates system to stop pubs overpaying by around £500 million each and every year – and to make sure online businesses pay their fair share compared to bricks and mortar businesses like much-loved community pubs.

“CAMRA looks forward to working with Lib Dem parliamentarians and those of all parties in the next Parliament to make sure that business rates and community ownership policies better support and protect the nation’s much-loved locals.”