Campaign to save our high streets backed by Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband

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The News’ campaign for an overhaul of the controversial business rating system has been given a huge boost after it was endorsed by both the deputy prime minister and leader of the opposition.

We launched the campaign along with our sister Johnston Press (JP) titles up and down the country by urging our loyal readers to sign a petition which calls upon the government to launch an urgent review of Europe’s highest business property tax.

1/8/14- Labour leader Ed Miliband visiting followers in Hastings. SUS-140108-163806001

1/8/14- Labour leader Ed Miliband visiting followers in Hastings. SUS-140108-163806001

We have also demanded rates are frozen while the whole system is being looked at.

Our campaign has gained the support of the British Independent Retailers Association as well as local chambers of commerce and business groups across England.

Labour Party leader Ed Miliband believes small firms need help with soaring costs.

Speaking exclusively in support of the JP campaign, the man who is aiming to be prime minister after next May’s general election, said: ‘I think it is right to ease the burden of business rates.

‘Businesses, particularly small firms, need help and I have repeatedly called on the government to do more to support them.

‘Rather than simply capping the increase in business rates, as David Cameron has done, I would like to see a cut in business rates in 2015 followed by a freeze in 2016 – paid for by not going ahead with the government’s additional Corporation Tax cut for the largest firms.

‘This would benefit millions of small businesses. If we are to build prosperity for the long term, we must give help to the many businesses which will create most of the jobs and the wealth of the future – not just a few at the top.’

Deputy prime minister Nick Clegg, the leader of the Liberal Democrats, also spoke out in support of the JP campaign and said: ‘I welcome the fact that they (JP) are championing the need for change in business rates.

‘It’s something the Liberal Democrats in government recognise and an important review is under way to try and deliver a better system which helps create and secure more jobs. As a government we have taken steps to help small businesses, including securing the economic recovery, extending small business rate relief and providing grants to help them take on new apprentices.

‘However, we know that there are a lot of issues surrounding business rates as it’s a system that was set up decades ago and other challenges have arisen since.’

But the government’s high streets minister, Portsmouth North MP Penny Mordaunt, said that the decision to delay the review until 2017 was of benefit to hundreds of thousands of businesses.

She said: ‘This government’s long-term economic plan is supporting business, local shops and the high street with lower taxes, despite the need to pay off the deficit left by the last administration.

‘We have already taken targeted action, including providing more than £1bn of business rates support, introducing a new £1,000 retail discount, and doubling small business rate relief – helping an estimated half-a-million small firms.’

To sign our petition click here.