MP pushes amendment for review into business rates to save Cumbria’s high streets

November 24, 2022 10:01 AM
Originally published by Tim Farron

Last night in the House of Commons, local MP Tim Farron tabled an amendment to the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill, calling for support for struggling businesses in Cumbria's town and villages centres.

Tim's amendment would have required the Chancellor to carry out a review of business rates, and consider the impact of the current system on levelling up and regeneration.

Speaking in Parliament, Tim said: "We see the move towards online shopping and the pressure of the economic downturn with people having less money in their pockets, so our high streets - our town and village centres - are under enormous pressure. Business rates actively suppress entrepreneurial spirit.

"For many businesses in my community - in Westmorland and in towns such as Kendal - and in towns further afield such as Appleby, Kirkby Stephen, Sedbergh, Windermere, Ambleside and Grange, the use of town centre premises would be a valuable addition to what they do, and yet they stay out of town and village centres because business rates keep them out.

"Reform is essential. There is demand from many businesses to have a town or village centre presence, yet business rates put them off. Why do the Government not carry out their manifesto promise? Adopting New Clause 46 would give them the opportunity to do just that."

However, 281 Conservative MPs voted against the amendment. It comes despite the Conservative 2019 manifesto promising a "fundamental review" of the business rates system to cut the burden of tax.

Speaking after the vote, Tim said: "Conservative MPs have thrown yet another manifesto promise on the scrap heap, along with their pledges not to raise taxes and to build new hospitals.

"Our town centres and high streets are facing a bleak few years ahead as Conservative tax rises and a record squeeze on living standards bite.

"But instead of offering a fundamental reform of the outdated and unfair business rates system, the Chancellor has hit small businesses with a massive stealth tax.

"It just shows that communities around the country are being completely taken for granted by the Conservatives, who have lost any right to call themselves the party of business"