Use sales levy on Amazon and tech giants to boost high street, urge MPs

Rory O'Connor says high street to take a heavy hit at Christmas

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It comes after Chancellor Rishi Sunak launched a consultation into the potential for a web purchase tax in his Autumn Budget and spending review. The report by the Commons levelling up, housing and communities committee, out today, says: “We support the principle of an online sales tax. “We particularly ­welcome that revenue from an online sales tax would be used to reduce business rates for retailers.

“The Government should provide clear timescales for the consultation.”

The committee, led by Labour MP Clive Betts, said it is vital an online sales tax did not penalise retailers that have both an online and bricks-and-mortar presence.

And the MPs fear the competitive bidding process for many of the Government’s town regeneration funding schemes may fail to direct money to the places most in need. Mr Betts said: “The pandemic dramatically changed our high streets almost ­overnight, accelerating ­consumer trends and introducing new ones.

“To help build the resilient, thriving high streets of the future, it’s vital that Government facilitates a long-term, holistic approach both to the planning and to the ­regeneration funding of our town centres.

“The Government should look at how it can support strategies which bring together councils, businesses and the ­community in developing high streets which ­capitalise on local heritage and experiences and which combine retail, hospitality, green spaces and arts and culture.

“An immediate ‘lessons learned’ review is necessary to examine the impact of the handling of the ­pandemic on the high street.”

But the report warned the ­Covid crisis is not over. And it added: “It is important the Government ­monitors the impact of the full range of Covid-19 business support that affects the high street and is prepared to adjust this if necessary.”

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