The Conservative Party has pledged a £4.3bn business rates support package over the next five years to support small businesses and the high street.

The party’s manifesto – revealed yesterday (11 June) ahead of the July general election – said it will continue to “ease the burden” of business rates for high street, leisure, and hospitality businesses.

This will involve increasing the multiplier on distribution warehouses that support online shopping over time.

The manifesto further affirmed the party’s commitment to the new system of alcohol taxation and the lower rate of duty charged on draught beer and cider served in pubs.

The Conservatives have also pledged they will not raise corporation tax and will abolish the main rate of National Insurance entirely by the end of the next Parliament for the very smallest businesses.

As stated in the manifesto: “We want small businesses to get a bigger share of public contracts and have improved the public sector procurement system to that end. We have made it easier and cheaper for small businesses to hire an apprentice. And we have taken 28,000 small businesses out of paying VAT altogether by raising the VAT registration threshold to £90,000. In the next Parliament, we will deliver a ten point plan to support SMEs.”

The manifesto further stated the intention to expand Open Finance and explore the creation of Regional Mutual Banks to improve access to finance for SMEs.

It will also lift the employee threshold to allow more companies to be considered medium-sized, which is expected to save businesses at least one million hours of admin per year, according to the manifesto.

Last week, the Labour Party promised to overhaul the business rates system to help revitalise the high street. The party has not specified what will replace the current system but said reforms would level the playing field for high street businesses against online competitors.

The Labour Party manifesto will be released this Thursday (13 June).

The Liberal Democrats, meanwhile, have pledged to scrap business rates and replace them with a new ‘commercial landowner levy’ to reduce the financial burden on retailers and encourage investment in high streets.

UKHospitality, said the Conservative commitment delivered on its call to fix the unfair burden of business rates on hospitality businesses.

CEO Kate Nicholls said: “Last year in our manifesto we called for total reform of the broken business rates system that sees hospitality businesses pay three times their fair share. We need a permanent, lower rate for hospitality that lets businesses invest in high streets, creating places people want to live and work.

“Hospitality is a unique sector in being able to provide jobs for everyone, everywhere, and we’re pleased to see a commitment to fund 100,000 apprenticeships for young people. However, problems with the existing Apprenticeship Levy system need to be fixed first and reform of that levy is a high priority for the sector.

“We are also pleased to see a pledge to review the nighttime economy in order to harness the power of hospitality, which is the beating heart of our vibrant nightlife in this country.

“UKHospitality has clearly set out its policy recommendations for a future government and we will continue to assess pledges in all party manifestos against the needs of the sector.”

 Responding to the commitment to alcohol duty, CAMRA chairman Nik Antona said: “It is encouraging to see the Conservative manifesto reconfirming the party’s commitment to the new system of alcohol taxation and the lower rate of duty charged on draught beer and cider served in our pubs, social clubs and brewery taprooms – so that tax on pints in pubs is always lower than that on supermarket alcohol.

“CAMRA is calling on the next UK Government to commit to extend the discount on tax for draught beer and cider to turbocharge this new alcohol duty system and give consumers, local pubs and independent breweries the boost they need to survive and thrive.

“Committing to extending the Community Ownership Fund is also a welcome pledge which would make sure that local groups can access funding they need to save their local pub as a community hub if it is under threat of closure, conversion or demolition.

“In addition, the Conservative proposal to review the night-time economy in England with a view to reversing the decline in pub numbers would provide an opportunity to show how transforming tax, regulation and planning laws could help save the nation’s much-loved pubs being lost to the communities they serve.”