Ministers panned after flagship high street review ‘banned’ from considering tax cuts for struggling stores – as Treasury doesn’t want to lose the revenue
Sources revealed experts hired to a new task force have been told they cannot discuss any shake-up of sky-high business rates – as the Treasury doesn’t want to lose the revenue.
One insider told The Sun: “Officials have made it clear business rates are off the table. It’s crazy. If there’s one thing affecting the high streets and forcing all the closures and job losses, it’s business rates.
“Instead they’ve been told to think what the high street might look like in 30 years’ time.”
The move comes just days after Chancellor Philip Hammond signalled he wanted to make things “fair” for high street stores by considering a tax on online giants such as Amazon.
The Treasury rakes in as much as £7 billion a year in business rates from retailers – 25 per cent of the overall bill.
Experts claim the sky-high property tax is the reason for a staggering 25,000 job losses alone as big name chains such as Toys R Us and Maplin go bust.
Earlier this week DIY chain Homebase unveiled plans to cut 42 stores – leading to 1,500 job cuts.
At the same time, official figures on Thursday showed that online retailers registered a 17 per cent sales increase in July – and now take almost £1 in every £5 spent by consumers.
Communities Minister Jake Berry announced plans for a high street taskforce in July hiring experts such as Sir John Timpson – boss of shoe repair service Timpson – to advise on ways to resurrect town centres.
Ex-Sainsbury’s chief exec Justin King told The Sun the case for a cut in business rates was “undeniable”.
Speaking yesterday he said: “They are undoubtedly accelerating the decline of the high street.
“And as the decline accelerates, it means a fewer number of retailers are paying more, so you get into a spiral.”
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