Business leaders launch manifesto for growth ahead of General Election

  • New West End Company, which represents over 600 UK and international firms, calls for ‘comprehensive’ reform to business rates to boost high streets across the country.
  • New manifesto calls for reintroduction of tax-free shopping, a crackdown on shoplifting and anti-social behaviour, and greater protection for retail workers.
  • New West End Company also calls on party leaders to back more flexible planning laws to drive investment and job growth.

10 June 2024: Business group New West End Company (NWEC) has today launched its manifesto, laying out policy priorities and recommendations for the future government.

As the debate around how to deliver growth continues to play a critical role ahead of the upcoming General Election and the nation's ongoing economic recovery, New West End Company’s manifesto builds on insights from its hundreds of members to outline the Governmental support businesses need to realise these ambitions of growth.

The Business Improvement District (BID) - a partnership of 600 UK and international retailers, restaurateurs, hoteliers, galleries and property owners in London's West End - sets out a series of recommendations for politicians to drive growth and investment in the nation’s high streets.

The manifesto calls on ministers to prioritise three key areas: economic growth, public safety and planning.

Dee Corsi, Chief Executive of the New West End Company, comments:

“As the election nears, ‘growth’ has become a buzzword for both Labour and the Conservatives. But if our nation’s politicians are serious about delivering for the business sector, we need to take a long-term approach that tackles unwieldy business rates, encourages innovation by reforming the rigid planning system, and keeps streets safe by remodelling police funding.

“Our manifesto, informed by the more than 600 UK and international businesses that the New West End Company represents, offers any future government a roadmap to do just that.

“In a little under four weeks the public will have decided on who they want to lead the country. When the nation has had its say, I hope that the government will look to the recommendations of the nation's businesses so that they can deliver on the promise of growth.”

Economic growth

  • Urgently undertake a comprehensive review of the business rates system. The current business rates system is in urgent need of reform. NWEC calls for a fairer system that does not simply shift the bill to online businesses but reflects the reality of today’s multi-channel sales model. Any review of this system must include meaningful consultation with the retail, leisure and hospitality sector.
  • Reintroduce tax-free shopping. The impact of removing tax-free shopping is clear; tourist spend has fallen across the country and is soaring in nations such as France and Italy, forcing British businesses to trade at a disadvantage. NWEC is calling for the reintroduction of tax-free shopping to restore the UK’s competitive edge, whilst simultaneously supporting businesses and supply chains across the nation.
  • Address chronic skills shortages in key sectors. Many sectors, including hospitality and retail, are facing chronic skills shortages which impact business performance and customer experience. The budget for adult skills must be increased to allow for higher-skilled and better-paid jobs.

Public safety

  • Tackle organised crime and anti-social behaviour. Elements within the Criminal Justice Bill must not fall victim to a change in government and leave the police without the legal means to tackle the anti-social behaviour and organised crime present on high streets across the country. A hands-on Home Office should also look to foster closer collaboration between local policing and the private sector, building upon existing initiatives with a track record of success.
  • More visible policing to tackle retail crime. The government should ensure the police have a more visible presence on high streets and that officers have the resources to tangibly deal with shoplifting in real time. NWEC, and its members, will continue to support and work with the police on our high streets when it comes to fighting crime. The next Government should also support new legislation to protect retail workers from violence and abuse.
  • Review the funding model for devolved policing. The capital is an international site of interest, hosting some of the biggest sporting moments, musicians and cultural events in the world. To maintain London’s reputation on the global stage as a go-to destination, the NICC funding model for policing a capital city must be reviewed to reflect the size of crowds, scale of major events and millions of people that pass through the capital each year.


  • Reform the planning system to make it more flexible. The current planning system is excessively rigid, creating unnecessary barriers to development and inward investment. NWEC is calling for the implementation of a reformed system, flexible enough to deal with the nuances of modern development projects and which situates a retrofit-first approach to sustainable development within the broader context of economic and social sustainability.
  • Improve access for high streets. High streets play an integral social and economic role for communities across the country, but many lack sufficient accessibility which contributes to inequality. A greater emphasis must be placed on ensuring crucial hospitality and retail areas are accessible for all, with continued investment into essential transport infrastructure.