Sir Philip Green has called for an overhaul of Britain’s business rates system to support struggling high streets.
Green told The Telegraph the Government deliberately inflated rates despite the fact that rents were falling because of the poor state of the economy.
He called for a rates freeze and a “rates holiday” for small shop owners.
Green said the Government’s decision to delay a rates revaluation until 2017 did not take account of the fact that “the world has changed” since the last review in 2008.
He said: “In the meantime what they are able to use is a mechanism ‘uniform business rate’ and if there is devaluation or the rent moves downwards they have this mechanism where they can inflate, they can create a value of their own.
“They can inflate the uniform business rate above the RPI (retail price index), so keeping their tax revenues in line. They fix it so they don’t lose any revenue.”
He urged the Government to consider giving indies a rates holiday or allowing small shop owners who pay annual rates of between £20,000 and £50,000 to pay a nominal sum.
Green said: “Small shops cannot afford to trade. They need a bit of help.”
John Lewis’ store manager at the retailer’s Peter Jones store Tony Wheeler said: “The Government needs to rebalance business rates to address changes across physical and digital retail.”