The Labour Party has pledged to replace the current business rates system and reform the apprenticeship levy.

In its manifesto revealed yesterday (13 June), the party said the current business rates system “disincentivises investment, creates uncertainty, and places an undue burden” on high streets.

It pledged to incentivise investment, tackle empty properties, and support entrepreneurship, as well as raise the same amount of revenue from business rates but “in a fairer way” to level the playing field between the high street and online rivals.

Labour further stated it will cap the corporation tax rate at the current 25%.

The party also promised to “break down barriers to opportunity” with a new body, Skills England, to oversee a “highly trained” workforce for the economy while putting employers “at the heart” of the skills system.

A new growth and skills levy would allow employers to fund non-apprenticeship courses deemed eligible by Skills England.

Earlier this week, the Conservative Party said it will continue to “ease the burden” of business rates for high street, leisure, and hospitality businesses by increasing the multiplier on distribution warehouses that support online shopping over time.

The Conservatives have also pledged they will not raise corporation tax.

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.

Commenting on the Labour manifesto, Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UKHospitality, said: “The commitments from the Labour Party are testament to 18 months of hard work by UKHospitality engaging with Labour on the sector’s priorities and shaping its policies.

“It’s clear they have listened and acted on our recommendations, which will enable hospitality to continue to create places where people want to live, work and invest.

“We are delighted to see a commitment to replace the broken business rates system and reduce the burden on high street businesses.

“Hospitality pays three times its fair share of rates, as a proportion of its turnover, and lowering the burden can easily be delivered within the first 100 days of an incoming government through the introduction of a permanently lower rate for hospitality and other high street businesses.

“Reform of the Apprenticeship Levy would be transformational for our investment in skills and help us attract more people into the rewarding roles we have to offer. Reform of the levy would, crucially, free up funds to enable the rollout of our successful skills pilot to help people out of work into jobs in hospitality.

“As Sir Keir Starmer said in his message to our conference today, UKHospitality has led engagement with Angela Rayner’s team on its plans for workers. As a sector that provides jobs and opportunities for everyone across the country, we look forward to continuing that relationship.”

CAMRA chairman Nik Antona said: “CAMRA members will be pleased to see that Labour’s manifesto includes a commitment to change the outdated business rates system to make it fairer between online enterprises and bricks and mortar businesses like pubs which are massively penalised in the current system

“Any changed system must make sure that pubs no longer pay a disproportionate share of rates and that a new, fairer business rate regime recognises their community value to help keep our locals open and thriving as a vital part of our social fabric.

“Whilst it does not feature in the manifesto, CAMRA looks forward to working with Labour MPs in the next Parliament to develop their policy for a ‘community right to buy’ giving local communities in England a right in law to have first refusal on buying privately-owned community assets which would be a gamechanger for people who want to save and take over the running of their local pubs if they are under threat of closure, conversion or demolition.”