Labour leader Ed Miliband is to pledge to help small businesses by freezing business rates if his party comes to power in 2015.
Miliband, who will make a speech at the Labour Conference in Brighton today, will promise to help around 1.5m small businesses if Labour wins the next election byl reversing the business rates rise, which is due to take place in April 15.
Miliband will also pledge to freeze the rate for 2016. It is thought this would save small firms an average of £450 over two years. Labour estimates that up to 1.5m businesses with properties worth an annual rent of £50,000 or less would benefit.
The party is planning to pay for this by reversing a planned cut in corporation tax from 21% to 20%, which is due to come into force in April 2015.
Miliband’s pledge has been met by mixed criticism.
The British Retail Consortium applauded the move.
Director general Helen Dickinson said: “We welcome this focus on supporting small businesses and high streets and the recognition that the cost of business rates has become unsustainable for retailers.”
She added: “With more than one in 10 shops currently empty across the country, a complete reform of the system is required. We are keen to discuss these proposals in detail with Labour to understand how they might form part of this more fundamental root and branch review.”
However the Institute of Directors said the changes would only help very small businesses, saying Miliband was just “tinkering at the edges”.
The Conservatives also waded in, calling it “yet more economic incompetence from the same Labour politicians who got us into this mess”.