The party is calling on the government to introduce a “new shop bonus” for legal businesses opening on Britain’s high streets, starting with Oxford Street.
Via Faith Ridler, Political Correspondent @FaithLRidler
Wednesday, December 27, 2023 10:33, United Kingdom
The Labor Party has vowed to tackle America’s scam candy shops – and called on the government to help restore Britain’s high street.
The party is calling on the government to introduce a “new shop bonus” for any legitimate business opening on shopping streets, starting with Oxford Street in central London.
There are now more than 20 American-themed sweet shops open in the busy shopping center, which was once home to dozens of flagship stores.
The government says it has “some of the strongest controls in the world to combat money laundering”, but Labor says these US sweet shops are almost always run out of unaccountable shell companies. The company’s assets and directors made up lies, and they often avoided paying the business. price.
Westminster City Council is investigating unpaid business rates of around £9 million from 26 stores on Oxford Street alone.
But James Murray, shadow financial secretary to the Treasury, has pledged that a Labor government will work with councils to restore England’s high streets – and ensure legal businesses stay open return.
He said: “We are calling on the government to work with councils, including Westminster City Council, to encourage legitimate businesses to open on high streets – instead of these shell companies hiding avoid paying bills and committing other crimes.
“In government, Labor will replace business rates with a new system and we will use the powers in the Economic Crime Act to crack down on fraudulent businesses and ensure there are measures in place. Appropriate inspection methods when companies are established.”
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Under Labour’s proposals, shop owners would be entitled to a three-month business rates holiday in their first year at new premises.
The party said it would be paid for by reallocating funds used to provide three months of “vacant property relief”.
Currently, this almost always falls on the landlord instead of helping new tenants.
Adam Hug, leader of Westminster City Council, has welcomed the proposals to regenerate the high street.
He said: “Like councils across England, we want to restore our high streets into proud centers of shopping and local social life.
“We have reduced the number of sweet shops on Oxford Street by a third, but there is only so much we can do without national government involvement.
“That’s why giving us these new powers will be a very welcome and important change to help us go further, so we can ensure London’s West End has gets a well-deserved buzz this Christmas and beyond.”
A government spokesman said: “The UK already has some of the strongest controls in the world to combat money laundering, but we are continuing to strengthen our approach to cracking down on crime.
“Our new Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Act will restrict the use of UK companies and other corporate structures as vehicles to facilitate money laundering, fraud, and fraud. international fraud and corruption.”