The Labour Party Annual Conference 2023
SME4Labour fringe: Fairness and Economic Stimulus: Debating the Abolition of Business Rates
🗓 Date: Tuesday, 10 October 2023
⏳ Time: 13:00
📍Location: SME4Labour POD (Meeting Room 22), ACC Liverpool, Kings Dock Street, Liverpool, England, L3 4FP
SME4Labour fringed: Fairness and Economic Stimulus: Debating the Abolition of Business Rates with Cllr Leslie Ayoola, Nottingham City Council, Chair of Corporate Overview & Scrutiny Committee; Cllr Tauseef Anwar, Speaker & Civic Mayor of Lewisham Council and Cllr Ishma Moeen, Brent Council. This panel discussion was chaired by Cllr Shabina Qayyum, Peterborough City Council.
Cllr Tauseef Anwar emphasized the need to reform the current business rate system and replace it with a fairer alternative. He shared personal experiences, illustrating the impact of business rates on small businesses. In one instance, he was forced to shut down a store due to unaffordable business rates. However, with his new business in energy efficiency and carbon reduction, he could afford to pay the rates. Anwar argued that the current system is broken and outdated, underscoring the importance of small businesses in the economy. He also stressed that small businesses drive innovation and bring diversity to the business landscape. Anwar called for a system that provides appropriate relief for small businesses, especially when designing strategies related to net zero, social value, and addressing climate change.
Cllr Ishma Moeen highlighted the challenges faced by small businesses in the UK, where a significant percentage of them struggle to survive beyond the first four years. He stressed the importance of providing support to help these businesses not only survive but thrive. Moeen advocated for a balanced approach to support businesses in various locations, whether they are on high streets, in town centres, shopping centres, or industrial areas. In Brant, they have offered support through business rate relief and paying the London Living wage during COVID. Moeen emphasized the need to review business rates, particularly in relation to the rent businesses pay, to ensure a fairer distribution and encourage business growth. Local council involvement in setting business rates was proposed to support fair trade across areas and promote sustainability. Moeen also mentioned close collaboration with town centre managers and business federations to foster sustainability and growth.
Cllr Leslie Ayoola expressed support for the idea of abolishing business rates while emphasizing the importance of regionalism. Ayoola suggested leveraging forums like “Nottingham Be Global” and platforms of SMEs to gather input and ideas for revamping the entire system. He advocated for devolving powers to the local level to change how business works and redistribute economic benefits. Ayoola focused on the role of social enterprises in addressing local challenges, emphasizing corporate social responsibility. He proposed using business rates collected from larger corporations to support the growth of local businesses and inspire entrepreneurship, especially in areas with high social deprivation, like Nottingham. Ayoola recommended a fairer distribution of business rates and fostering corporate innovation to encourage entrepreneurship and reinvestment in local communities.