Government in 'listening mode' after business rate Tory revolt

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Communities Secretary Sajid Javid is poised to tell rebel Tory MPs the Government has heard their concerns over business rate changes.

Mr Javid is expected to use a parliamentary debate on local government finance Wednesday to try to ease a public revolt by MPs on the issue.

Government sources said ministers were in "listening mode" amid reports that extra money may be released by Chancellor Philip Hammond to help firms facing sharp rises in the levy.

The Communities Secretary has been accused of misleading people over the impact of rate revaluations which would increase bills for more than one in four companies.

Theresa May defended Mr Javid as Downing Street said the Prime Minister had full confidence in the minister after a bruising few days of criticism for his stance.

Mr Javid angered some of his critics by suggesting that a campaign of "half truths" was behind the attacks on the business rate changes.

Ministers have branded as "nonsense" claims that the Government underestimated rate rises by 5-7%.

Mr Hammond faced intense concern from some MPs on the issue at an 80-minute meeting of the Tory backbench 1922 Committee earlier in the week.

MPs noted that time was of the essence as bills for the coming year are due to go out over a five-week period starting on Friday.