A SHADOW cabinet member has visited a North East town to help ramp up Labour’s call to reform business rates and regenerate our town centres.

Rachel Reeves visited businesses in Stockton, today, Thursday, November 11, find out from small independent businesses about fixing the high street.

In September, Mrs Reeves was praised by business groups when she pledged the party would cut business rates immediately, and then completely reform the business rates system in the long run, bringing the change which major business groups have been urging the government to do.

The party’s plan with incentivising business investment, especially in areas that help decarbonise the economy; reduce uncertainty for business, through more frequent revaluations and through instant reductions in bills when property values fall; reward rather than punish entrepreneurship, and reward the local government for the great work they do to promote economic growth.

The news comes as Labour’s Shadow Chancellor visits Stockton high street, undergoing reform by the local Labour council into a more modern, enterprising centre and green community space.

That transformation includes converting a previously derelict theatre into a new concert venue that will bring a footfall of 200,000 a year, and breathing new life into an old department store, making it into an Enterprise Arcade, where independent businesses can pay a peppercorn rent as they seek to get off the ground.

Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rachel Reeves MP said: “Our high streets are a crucial part of the tapestry of where we live, work and share our everyday lives, and they hold the keys to our economic recovery.

“The current system of Business Rates is not fit for purpose – it punishes investment, entrepreneurship and it hits the high street.

“That’s why Labour would cut business rates immediately – paying for this with a one-off rise in the Digital Services Tax.

“And it’s also why we’d scrap the system entirely – replacing it, as many business groups and firms up and down the country have called for: a fundamental reform that makes sure online giants pay their fair share in tax too.

“Labour’s mission is to tax fairly, spend wisely, and grow our economy by boosting our brilliant British businesses and helping high streets be the pride of our towns and cities.”