The UK Treasury has today rejected calls from retailers and restaurants who say business rates should be reformed to create a level playing field with online retailers.
During a meeting of parliament’s Treasury Select Committee, chancellor Philip Hammond said reforming international corporation tax was a higher priority for the government, adding that his department had already looked into business rates reform in 2016 and found “no consensus on an alternative base”.
In a letter to committee chair Nicky Morgan, Hammond said: “Respondents agreed that property-based taxes were easy to collect, difficult to avoid, relatively stable compared to other taxes and had a clear link with local authority spending.”
The chancellor’s rejection comes at a time when a growing number of UK high street retailers are asking for reforms in order to be able to compete against online retailers. Retailers pay an average of £8bn per year in business rates and are currently facing a decline in high street footfall and increases in other costs.