Shadow chancellor John McDonnell will host a roundtable on business rates today as Labour ramps up the pressure on the government to reform the system.
McDonnell, who will lead the summit alongside newly appointed shadow business secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey, has invited a number of groups including the British Chamber of Commerce, the Institute of Directors and the Federation of Small Businesses to take part in the discussion.
Ahead of the meeting, Labour has published a list of potential ways to reform the business rates system, which the ruling Conservative Party has come under increasing pressure to change.
New rates are due to come into force on April 1 following the first revaluation in seven years, but areas including London’s West End are set to be hammered by huge increases in their bills.
Labour’s suggestions for reform include lowering bills by moving from the Retail Price Index to the Consumer Price Index, while the party has also suggested more regular valuations in order to prevent exponential hikes in business rates every five years.
It comes after a slew of retailers, including Morrisons chairman Andy Higginson, Ann Summers chief executive Jacqueline Gold and Fat Face boss Anthony Thompson, slammed the current business rates system.
The government has already promised a £3.6bn transition fund to help businesses come to terms with increases in their bills, while communities secretary Sajid Javid hinted that Chancellor Philip Hammond would bring forward new protections for hardest-hit firms in the Budget in just over a week’s time.