By Daniel Hunter

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) has today responded to the proposals on business rates that Ed Miliband is due to make in his Labour Party Conference speech this afternoon. He is expected to announce that Labour would cut business rates in 2015 and freeze them again in 2016 for small businesses.

"The UK business rates are the highest property taxes of any EU country and lead directly to vacant shops. A consensus is emerging that the system is no longer fit for purpose and requires total reform," British Retail Consortium Director General Helen Dickinson said.

"We therefore welcome this focus on supporting small businesses and high streets and the recognition that the cost of business rates has become unsustainable for retailers.

"With more than one in ten shops currently empty across the country, a complete reform of the system is required. We are keen to discuss these proposals in detail with Labour to understand how they might form part of this more fundamental root and branch review."

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