A coalition of retailers including Morrisons, Greggs and Tesco, have called on the Conservative party leader candidates to slash business rates.
The Retail Jobs Alliance has called on both Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss to pledge to cut business rates, which it said were “killing our high streets”.
The group, consisting of Co-op, Greggs, Kingfisher, Morrisons, RivingtonHark, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Waterstones, said it feared “without urgent action many more shops, restaurants and pubs will struggle to keep their doors open.”
Businesses are facing a 10 per cent increase in rates next spring as inflation is set to climb even higher in the coming months.
In an open letter to both candidates, the Alliance dubbed the so-called ‘shop tax’ as “a pre-profit tax which inhibits investment and disproportionately impacts those communities most in need of levelling up.”
It said “piecemeal” reform would not be enough, highlighting that property taxes in the UK were “four times higher than Germany and 50 per cent above the G7 average.”
“A permanent reduction in business rates for all retailers, regardless of their size, would make a big difference to retailers’ ability to invest more in shops and stores as well as to create jobs,” the letter added.
High street businesses are coming under pressure as consumers pare back spending amid a cost of living crisis while companies themselves also face higher energy and operational costs.
Some 197,000 retail properties would benefit from a 20 per cent slash to business rates, the letter stated.
This would cost just £1.8bn, compared to a £17.2bn generated by the proposed rise on corporation tax.
“Our high streets and town centres are being hit hard by business rates, and yet neither candidate to be Prime Minister has come up with a serious plan to help,” a spokesperson for the group said.
“Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak need to show they understand what will do most to stimulate investment, support job creation and help levelling up. That means it’s time to cut the Shops Tax.”
Inflation has hit 9.4 per cent, with it expected to rise even higher.