Proposals for a levy on large supermarkets have gained the support of a growing number of councils and three-quarters of respondents to a C-Store poll.
The idea has been put forward by Local Works, a coalition of national organisations campaigning to promote the use of the Sustainable Communities Act. A spokesman said five more councils had signed up to the proposals, bringing the number of councils supporting it to 25. Boston, Broxtowe, Daventry, Rossendale and St Helens are the latest to back the submission.
It proposes that local authorities be given powers to enforce an extra business rates levy of 8.5% on any large retail outlet with a rateable value of more than £500,000. The revenue would be used to improve local economic activity and services. A similar scheme runs in Northern Ireland and Scotland, where the levy is 9.3%.
The government has until January to make a decision, but a Department for Communities and Local Government spokesman said: “We ruled out such a bid under the last round of the Sustainable Communities Act proposals. There are better ways to support small shops.”
A Convenience Store online poll revealed that 75% of more than 100 respondents believed that the levy would be fair.
Raj Chandegra of Londis Barnes in South West London, agreed the multiples should pay more business rates. “Our high streets are in need of investment and if the multiples want to open large stores which take business away from us, they should have to pay for it.”
However, Manchester City Council said the levy did not fit in with the city’s economic vision, and the Association of Convenience Stores warned the levy could “set a dangerous precedent” and councils would be better served by showing greater commitment to town centre first rules in planning.