Labour is pledging laws to tackle violence against shop workers and overhaul UK business rates in its upcoming manifesto ahead of the general election.

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Speaking to staff at a Co-op store in Stapleford, Nottinghamshire, over the weekend, shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said the party will take action to “end the tide of aggression” and stop police ignoring thefts under a value of £200, The Mirror first reported.

Cooper said: “It’s a disgrace shop workers have to endure this at work. Everybody should be able to feel safe. During Covid, these were key workers who kept everything going.

“Labour is determined we will pass a new law to make a specific offence of assaults and abuse against shop workers and to make sure it’s taken seriously by the police.”

The newspaper reported that Cooper was told stories by Co-op staff relating to being threatened with hammers and knives as well as sprayed with petrol during shifts.

Shoplifting offences recorded by police in England and Wales reached record highs last year, according to the Office for National Statistics, and levels of violence and abuse against retail staff have also surged.

Labour leader Keir Starmer also promised to overhaul the business rates system when speaking at a brewery in his constituency of Holborn and St Pancras over the weekend.

Starmer criticised the Conservatives for failing to “fix” a system that has caused problems for businesses for “a long time”.

Labour is also planning to establish more banking hubs, stop late payments of invoices by forcing big firms to report on their payment practices, and combat antisocial behaviour to “revitalise” the high street.

Starmer added: “At the moment, there’s not a level playing field between businesses that are online and those that are bricks and mortar.”

What does the general election mean for retail? Catch up on the latest policy announcements and we give a platform to retailers to have their say ahead of the vote on July 4 on our dedicated election page