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Select committee set to extend reach of business rates inquiry

The communities and local government select committee is set to extend the reach of the ongoing business rates inquiry to look at ways to level the playing field between small stores and online giants.

It is understood that committee chairman Clive Betts will use a public meeting with the Secretary of State, Sajid Javid, to discuss the housing White Paper to raise his concerns.

“There is a fundamental problem in the way valuations for business rates are done and that needs to be looked at,” he said.

“High street shops seem to pay more than a similar unit out-of-town. That doesn’t feel right when there is a public and political view that high streets need some form of protection. There’s also an imbalance between property-based businesses and online sellers.”

But the British Retail Consortium (BRC) said “an online sales tax is not the answer”.

Analysis by business rent and rates specialist CVS found that nine distribution centres for Amazon in England and Wales would benefit from a £148,000 fall in property tax liabilities in April, while etailers including, Shop Direct and Asos would also benefit from a cut of 2.12%.

“I’m delighted an inquiry will now be had around the tax system to ensure that it is fit for purpose for the 21st century economy,” said CVS chief executive Mark Rigby. “Fairness must be at the heart of that inquiry so local communities can thrive moving forward.”



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