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Labour’s pledge on business rates Just grandstanding to Party Conference

27 09 21 Labours pledge on business rates just grandstanding hero

We call for a “sensible discussion” rather than soundbites concerning business rates abolition.

Following the Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeve’s comments widely quoted today that Labour plans to “freeze business rates rise until the next revaluation”, expand small business reliefs and then long term abolish the system all together, John Webber head of business rates said, “Whilst we are great advocates of business rates reform, the Shadow Chancellor’s suggestion to abolish the system altogether without any concrete means of raising £26 billion of tax, smacks of playing to the gallery at the Labour party conference.”

He points out:

  • The next revaluation is 2023 - Labour would not be in power to freeze any business rates rises before then.

  • The emphasis on expanding small business relief would not “save the high street”. There is already a myriad of small business rates reliefs. We also need to rebalance the tax take on the bigger retail players - the ones that create the most jobs and decide where to open and shut stores, if we seriously want to make an impact on the high street and save jobs.

  • Replacing the £26 billion tax take by a “new, as yet undefined system” is too woolly a concept. How would Labour do this in reality? Reeve mentions increasing the digital services tax to target the tech giants – yet the government is involved in negotiations for a global deal on corporate tax, which is expected to be implemented in 2023, a condition of which is that countries remove any domestic digital service tax.

Colliers' own view is that the current system must be radically reformed, but not thrown out altogether.

“We agree the system in current form is unworkable and have long been calling for reform. Overall rates bills need to be lower, the multiplier (UBR) cut to 30p - more manageable than the current 51p in the £ tax and the burden of taxation should be shifted away from the retail sector who contribute nearly a third of the total tax take. Rates reliefs should be reformed, empty rates relief extended, plant and machinery clauses reformed to encourage investment. We need more frequent revaluations, so rates better reflect values and an overhaul of CCA, the disastrous appeal system.”

“We agree we need to look at other means of shoring up the tax take – but declaring an abolition of the system altogether – a system that produces £26 billion of revenue for the Treasury - is naïve. We should learn from other countries that have fairer and equitable business rates systems and have a sensible discussion about reform to create a rates system that properly reflects the needs and obligations of UK businesses in the twenty first century.”

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John Webber

Head of Rating



I have over 35 years’ experience in the rating industry and lead a 135 plus rating team at Colliers.  When I took over responsibility for the team in 2005, it consisted of only a dozen people and has now grown into one of the leading rating advisory teams in the country.  I am a member of Colliers' UK Management Executive as well as sitting on the company’s Balance in Business Committee. 

I am regularly called upon by the national media to give my views on a range of business rates issues and I am involved in lobbying MPs/ministers and senior civil servants on business rates matters.

I started my career in the Valuation Office Agency in Kidderminster.  I joined Gerald Eve in 2000 where I spent 10 years before moving to Gooch Webster (now Colliers). I sit on the National Retail Panel of Rating Surveyors Association which provides guidance on how the RSA town committees work with the VOA and valuation matters.  I have also held the postion as Chair of the RICS Rating Diploma Committee having passed the prestigious qualification in 2014. I currently sit on the Rating Surveyors Association National Committee .

Along with Philip Harrison we founded 'Accurates' in 2007, the Collier's Compliance and Audit team, which although forms an integral part of the Rating team is now a leading brand in its own right.

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Suzy Simpson

Head of Content, Communications and PR


London - West End

As Head of Content, Communications & PR for Colliers in the UK, I am responsible for driving the strategic direction of corporate communications, media relations, and the programming and production of multi-channel content to engage external and internal audiences across the UK.

Get in touch for help with: 

  • Content Communication Strategy 
  • Media Relations
  • Corporate & Internal Communications
  • Media Training & Personal Brand Training


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