Commenting on the Shadow Business Secretary, Rebecca Long-Bailey’s speech at Labour Party Conference, Dr Adam Marshall, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), said:

“Our business communities tell us over and over that high streets send an important signal about their areas. If high streets look like ghost towns, local confidence and investment both take a knock.

“It is encouraging to hear the Labour Party talking about concrete measures to support the high streets of our towns and cities during a period of momentous technological change.

“Labour is right to adopt our long-standing call for reform of the broken business rates system. Annual revaluations, coupled with simplifications in the system, and the exclusion of plant and machinery would stop businesses facing huge changes in their rates bills and help end measures that punish firms for investing in their premises.

“Trading businesses on our high streets will also be receptive to ideas around boosting digital connectivity and improving public transport use. Business as a whole wants high streets to remain hubs for local community and commercial life, but acknowledge that they will need to change as consumer habits and demand change too.

“However, businesses will want to be reassured that any measures to boost the high street would not be paid for through higher business taxes elsewhere. Given concerning Labour policy announcements from the Shadow Chancellor in recent days, that reassurance is doubly important.”