A proposal that supermarkets should be given tax breaks to set up in deprived areas has angered independent store owners.

In its report Civic Streets, independent think tank Demos recommends that supermarket chains should be offered time-limited tax perks such as business rate exemptions to encourage their presence in "brand deserts".

The report's author Max Wind-Cowie argued that supermarkets could contribute to Prime Minister David Cameron's 'Big Society' agenda.

Nigel Dowdney of Earlham Shopper in Swainsthorpe, Norfolk said that tax breaks for companies that make billions of pounds of profit were "madness".

"If anything their tax should be raised to help the economy," he said. "Any tax incentives should be first offered to independent retailers who have been serving deprived areas for years."

Association of Convenience Stores public affairs director Shane Brennan said the proposal would do nothing to help deprived areas. "If Demos were to suggest that smaller retailers should be offered these breaks then that would really be new thinking and would actually benefit areas."

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