Business groups call on new PM to launch West End-friendly policies
Whoever is appointed UK prime minister next month, their 'to-do' list just got longer. Prominent London business leaders are asking the prospective candidates Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak for change to “deliver growth to the capital, while investing in communities… to make the economy work for both individuals and businesses”.
It includes key calls for the “fundamental reform of business rates” to help struggling businesses through the worsening cost-of -living crisis, as well as a call for a “return to tax-free shopping as well as visa reform”.
Seven key London business signatories of the open letter include CEO of New West End Company, CEO of Heart of London Business Alliance and the Leader of Westminster City Council.
In the letter, they said: “We are collectively calling on the new Prime Minister to deliver the changes that real businesses want to see”.
They continued: “At a time when prices are rising for everyone, we urge you to commit to a change that has been overlooked by successive Governments but can protect employment, reduce inflation, and promote growth: fundamental reform of business rates. Business rates have no connection to profit and are a regressive form of taxation, which tax businesses for existing rather than taking a proportionate amount of their income”.
It noted that this growing problems is “disincentivising investment and devastating our high streets”.
It also called for business rates reform that “can empower local areas, allowing more businesses to grow and local authorities to keep more of the money generated by occupied high streets”.
And they say it's also imperative that businesses can rely on their cash flow when they're facing extenuating financial pressures. “We ask that you are both clear that you will be going further on late payments, to spur firms into action ahead of any legislative changes”.
There was also another call for reviving VAT-free shopping for international tourists which “would be a huge competitive boost and drive the creation of more local jobs”. It noted that non-EU visitors spent £17.8 billion in 2019, of which £3 billion was on tax-free shopping.
They highlighted the fact that Britain is now the only European country not to offer tax-free shopping to non-EU visitors, “putting us at a competitive disadvantage, particularly with France and Italy”.
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