The cost of living crisis is being played out on our high streets. Shoppers are facing prices rising faster than their wages month after month, on top of the rising cost of essentials such as energy bills.
Businesses are facing their own version of this crisis - a cost of doing business crisis. We have now found out that, because of inflation, business rates are going to increase by an average of £430 from next April, at a total cost to businesses of £700m. This is happening year after year - they have already gone up by £1,500 on average under David Cameron.
The choice for more than one million shops, workshops, start up businesses and others who pay rates is to try and pass these increases on to their customers through higher prices - adding to the cost of living crisis - or face a continuing squeeze until they can no longer afford to stay in business. It is no wonder that there are so many empty shops on our high streets.
That is why I agree with the CBI's director-general John Cridland in his call this morning to limit future business rates increases.
We have said that a Labour government will cut business rates for small and medium businesses in 2015, and freeze them again in 2016. This would mean an average saving of nearly £450 on 1.5million properties.
However, George Osborne's failure to deliver his promise to balance the books means that we will still face a high deficit in 2015 and a business rates cut must be fully funded. We will pay for a cut in business rates by not going ahead with the Tories' plans for an additional Corporation Tax cut for large companies
Large companies will have already had £10billion in tax cuts by 2015. It is right that we should have a globally competitive Corporation Tax rate and we have supported those tax cuts. But the priority next should be cutting business rates, supporting small and medium businesses and relieving the pressure on our high streets.
The cost of living crisis is being faced by businesses as well their customers. Labour's freeze in energy prices will help those businesses, and we must support them by cutting business rates too.