The British Retail Consortium (BRC) has hailed the statement in the Housing, Communities and Local Government Select Committee Report on High Streets and Town Centres in 2030 that ‘retailers are paying more than their fair share of tax’. The report says e-tailers should pay higher UK taxes to save ailing shopping districts that are losing revenue to e-commerce.
Retail accounts for 5 per cent of the economy, pays 10 per cent of all business tax and shoulders 25 per cent of the United Kingdom’s Business Rates bill, BRC chief executive officer Helen Dickinson said in a release.
“This damaging and outdated Business Rates system, which drives up the cost of doing business, is a major factor in store closures as well as hindering the successful transformation of our high streets,” he said. An online sales tax, higher value-added tax and ‘green taxes’ on shipping and packaging should be considered to help soften the blow to physical stores as consumers shift to internet shopping, according to the government report.
“While we agree that [the] government should examine alternatives to this broken system, we do not agree that online taxes or taxes on deliveries and packaging on those goods is the right way to go. Retailers are blurring the lines between the digital and physical experience. With eight of the top ten internet retailers also having physical shops, it is clear that an online tax would further damage the high street,” Dickinson said.
The BRC fully supports the committee’s recommendation that new permitted development rights should be suspended and evaluated, and that local councils should be able to suspend them where they conflict with local plans for an area, he added.
The consortium also supports the committee’s recommendation of extra funding for the Future High Streets Fund as well as suggestions to include those with retail experience in the High Streets Taskforce and local authority groups.