By Jonathan Davies

A Labour government would focus on cutting business rates for small businesses, shadow chancellor Ed Balls has announced.

On the second day of official campaigning for the general election, Mr Balls said that Labour would put small businesses first in line for tax cuts and specifically pledged to cut business rates for 1.5 million small firms.

It is part of Labour’s Better Plan for Small Businesses, which includes action to tackle late payment, reducing unnecessary regulation and establishing a British Investment Bank to boost lending to small firms.

Figures published by Labour suggest that business rates have gone up by £1,500 a year during the course of this Conservative-led government.

Ed Balls said the cuts to rates would save small businesses around £400 a year.

The shadow chancellor, said: “Unleashing the potential of smaller businesses to grow, create more good jobs and raise living standards is a vital part of Labour’s better plan. Because when working people and British businesses succeed Britain succeeds too.

“That’s why Labour’s first Budget will back Britain’s small firms and our struggling high streets by cutting business rates. And we will look to go further by putting small businesses first in line for future tax cuts. This is part of our plan to deliver a simpler and fairer tax system for small businesses."