Labour will call on the Government to create a taxation level-playing field for underfire high streets and online giants as it kicks off its local elections campaign.
Shadow Chancellor Anneliese Dodds will launch a five-point plan to “put communities first” and support rebuild Britain’s high streets on a visit to the West Midlands.
The Mirror has championed struggling town centres with our High Street Fightback campaign.
The speech will take Ms Dodd’s into one of the party’s toughest battles in May for Labour as ex-minister Liam Byrne tries to take the mayoralty from Tory and ex-John Lewis boss Andy Street.
Ms Dodds will condemn the Tories for “washing their hands” of local high streets over the last decade.
She will commit Labour to stop the Government selling them off for low-quality housing, empowering councils to fill empty shops with new businesses, challenge the Government to level the tax playing field between high street firms and online companies.
She will also call for a high streets ‘fightback fund’ to help businesses hit hard by the pandemic.
In her speech in Birmingham, Ms Dodds will say: “We can’t continue with a situation where five US tech firms account for £1.3bn in lost corporation tax every year, while high street shops pay business rates under a system that hasn’t been reformed for years.
“The Government should set out what it plans to do about this.
“On so-called ‘Tax Day’, the Conservatives must level the playing field between high street businesses and giant online firms.”
On the scale of the challenges to British high streets she will say: “In the ten years before the pandemic hit the West Midlands lost over a thousand shops.
“And during the same time period, across the UK as a whole we lost over 7,000 shops from our high streets.
“And the pandemic has hit Birmingham hard, with footfall in the city centre taking longer to recover here than anywhere other than London and Glasgow.
“For our country’s second city, this loss of custom and shops is devastating.”
“For some of our smaller towns, it’s existential.”
But the drive to focus on the party’s local election campaign risked being overshadowed as Unite boss Len McCluskey has issued a warning to Sir Keir Starmer that he will be “dumped into the dustbin of history” if he continues his attacks on the party left.
He told Times Radio that Sir Keir needed to “shake off the siren voices of New Labour” if the party was to stand any chance of regaining power.
“There is a real fear at the moment that he is attempting to marginalise the left. Now we seem to be travelling in a direction that is turning the Labour Party into a party of the establishment. That will not get you into No 10,
“At the moment we are suffering because people don’t understand what Keir Starmer stands for or what Labour stands for.”
Responding, Amanda Milling MP, Co-Chairman of the Conservative Party, said: “Throughout this pandemic, we have stood by high streets across the country, providing £35 billion to protect and support communities and businesses.
“And announced the Welcome Back Fund to enable a safe and successful reopening of our high streets.
“As we rebuild our economy, we are investing record amounts in our high streets, through our £4.8 billion Levelling Up Fund, £3.6 billion Towns Fund and £1 billion Future High Streets Fund, helping level up and transform local communities in all regions of our country.
“While Labour are playing politics at every turn, this Conservative Government is taking the action needed for our high streets to adapt and succeed both now and in the future.”