A GROUP of Conservative MPs including Kevin Hollinrake in Thirsk and Dehenna Davison in Bishop Auckland has warned Chancellor Rishi Sunak that without an urgent cut to business rates, many shops will end up closing - especially in those areas most in need of levelling up.

The MPs say that with the number of empty shops increasing across England and Wales now is the time for a bold move to ‘cut the shops tax’. They are pointing to data published last week by the British Retail Consortium, which revealed that 4 out of 5 retailers would likely have to close more shops unless their business rates bill was reduced.

New research published today by WPI Strategy highlights the importance of a business rates cut to the Government’s plans to 'level up'.

It found that 78% per cent of the constituencies most in need of levelling up are in the North, Midlands, and Wales with the most urgent in Middlesbrough, Bradford West, Blackpool South, Liverpool Walton and Great Grimsby.

It also found that the burden of business rates – the amount of rates paid in proportion to overall profit - is highest in those places most in need of levelling up. 72% of constituencies with the highest burden of business rates are located in areas of the country most in need of levelling up like Bishop Auckland and Sunderland Central.

Kevin Hollinrake, MP for Thirsk and Malton and Chair of the Property Research Group, said: “Urgent action is required to support our shops, our high streets and our communities to level the playing field between online and physical retailers. Making the business rates system fair has to be a priority. At the same time, we need to think carefully about how we implement such a move. Given the state of the public finances any tax cut has to be paid for somewhere else.”

Dehenna Davison, MP for Bishop Auckland, said: “If businesses are to bounce back from Coronavirus and town centres are able to rebuild we must look at the financial inequality presented by business rates. Businesses in my constituency face rates eight times higher than those in the south. I know that this levelling up is a key priority of the Government, and colleagues and I are working closely to ensure the levelling up agenda is delivered as quickly as possible.”

The WPI report highlights how the UK now has the highest property taxes in Europe, around 50 per cent more than the next nearest country, and that business rates receipts have increased from £8.8bn in 1990 to £27.3bn in 2017-18, an increase of 210 per cent compared with a 75 per cent increase in inflation.

Other key findings were that shops in the top 50 constituencies most burdened by rates have four times the business rates burden of those in the bottom 50.

If the top 50 constituencies faced the same burden as those in the bottom 50, they would save £54m per year.

Chris Walker, author of the report, said: “This analysis shows how a single policy change – cutting business rates - could deliver massive benefits to communities across the country but especially those in most need of levelling up. Most other taxes are linked to prosperity and are progressive, but in the case of business rates that system has broken down.”


Keep up to date with all the latest news on our website, or follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

You can also follow our dedicated North Yorkshire Facebook page for all the latest in the area by clicking here.

For all the top news updates from right across the region straight to your inbox, sign up to our newsletter here.

Have you got a story for us? Contact our newsdesk on newsdesk@nne.co.uk or contact 01325 505054