The influential Centre for Retail Research closely watches government attempts to iron out the iniquities of business rates. Commercial Property Advisors (CPA) also urges the Chancellor to reform radically a much-loathed tax, whereby a high street operator with a rateable value of less than £12,000 is unlikely to take over the empty premises next door since he/she would incur a punishing rates bill. CPA believes that since rates are not based on sales but property values, the high street will continue to look blighted and down at heel.
CPA agrees with the Centre for Retail Research that ways must be found to reduce business rates permanently, possibly by halving the multiplier. However, it is reluctant to recommend extending any turnover tax to physical, as well as on-line businesses.
On the contrary, CPA believes that only positive measures to nurse the high street back to health will do. Foremost among these would be the partial redistribution of the digital sales tax to improving the design of urban shopping spaces. Positive local, quality-approved responses to a refreshed high street could lead to bricks and mortar businesses being rewarded by funds deriving from the digital sales tax.
Survival of the high street is by no means compulsory: if we seriously want to continue shopping in our local communities, CPA believes that bold imaginative leaps are imperative and overdue.