Jeremy Hunt will scrap business rates for thousands of high-street shops

Tory PM contender plans to scrap tax for 25,000 small businesses across five regional cities


Jeremy Hunt has pledged to exempt hundreds of thousands of small businesses from business rates if he becomes Prime Minister.


Tory leadership contender Jeremy Hunt intends to scrap taxes for nine out of 10 high street shops in a bid to save the high street.


Experts have warned that high streets face the loss of 200,000 jobs unless the Government acts to revive traditional town centres hit by the rise of internet shopping.


The move will save newly exempted businesses up to £6,500 each, and will scrap taxes on 24,500 businesses based in Birmingham (5,000), Manchester (8,000), Leeds (6,000), Newcastle (2,000) and Bristol (3,500).


Hunt has already promised to cut corporation tax from 19pc to as low as 12.5pc, a policy which has been costed at £13bn a year.


The Foreign Secretary, who is never afraid to brandish his entrepreneur credentials, told the Daily Telegraph that his proposals would “give a new lease of life to the British high street” and provide “hard working local businesses an enormous cash boost”.


“My blueprint will give a new lease of life to the British high street and give our hard working local businesses an enormous cash boost,” he said.


“It was once said Britain was a nation of shopkeepers. But if we don’t act this will no longer be the case


“Too many small businesses are being put out of business by tax bills they can’t afford to pay.


“While many people choose to shop online, there is a clear demand for a local choice too.


“And the current system leaves the taxpayer out of pocket, shopkeepers out of a job and can deprive local people of places to spend time with friends and family.”


Hunt said that his government would reform the current Retail Discount rate, so that businesses which qualified for the discount would see their entire business rate bill cancelled.


At present , those with a rateable value below £51,000 are eligible for their bill to be cut by one third.


Hunt’s pledge builds on a £900m already committed by Chancellor Philip Hammond to reduce business rates, as well as a £675m cash injection to turn empty shops into cafes, community centres and new homes.