Full text of the motion:
Conference notes with concern that business rates increases which came into effect on April 2017 have:
- Disproportionately impacted some small businesses and have the potential to irreversibly damage the character of our high streets, in particular pubs that account for around 0.5% of total turnover but pay 2.8% of the total rates bill.
- Created an extra financial burden for local community organisations where the local authority does not offer discretionary relief.
- The potential to create huge tax inequality between small businesses (such as pubs) and giant multinationals (such as supermarkets).
Conference further notes with concern that:
- The business rates consultation in 2016 lasted only four weeks rather than the three month consultation period recommended by the Cabinet Office.
- There was no regional impact assessment carried out which would have highlighted some key flaws from the start.
- The previous Conservative-only Government scrapped the Business Rates review commissioned by the Liberal Democrats in coalition in March 2015.
Conference further notes with concern that the Government’s Discretionary Business Rates Relief Scheme of £3.6bn (announced in the Budget on 8 March 2017) to compensate businesses who will lose the most from the change:
- Was only announced following the threat of legal challenge from 13 business groups, including the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) and the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB).
- Has simply been taken from other companies that were led to believe they had gained from the original changes.
- Is only a temporary measure meaning that some businesses still have to pay an increase of more than £600 a year going forward.
Conference believes that:
- Small businesses are a vital community asset and need support and fair treament in order to thrive.
- Business rates on the current basis are a broken system that are unfit for the 21st century.
Conference calls for a fundamental review of the Business Rate system including consideration of Site Value Rating as set out in the 2017 General Election Manifesto.
Conference further calls on the Government to adopt the following interim measures without delay pending a proper review:
- A new ‘Pub Cap’ limiting increases in rates bills to 12.5% on Public Houses, restaurants, hotels and cafes, as already exists in Scotland, to be extended to England.
- Giving local authorities the ability to pilot site value rating (SVR).