“Rebalance” out-of-town and in-town business rates to save town centre shops

Posted on: 3rd February 2014

West Cornwall MP, Andrew George, is calling upon local communities to back his campaign to establish a more even playing field between thriving out-of-town retailers and struggling in-town shops.

He is drawing attention to his campaign in the light of a BBC TV Inside Out documentary which is due to be screened this evening and which features Penzance in his constituency.

Mr George believes that town centre shops have to “pay through the nose”, whereas out-of-town supermarkets and other retailers “get off lightly” when their rates are contrasted with their turnover.

Mr George has been calling on Government Ministers to give local communities the power to levy a supplementary business rate on out-of-town retailers who benefit from (the insufficiently rated) free car parking areas which help to give them a significant advantage over their in-town competitors.

Mr George has recently written to Parish and Town Councils in his constituency highlighting his determination to continue with the campaign which has not so far received the support of either the previous or present Government Ministers responsible for the rules in respect of out-of-town business rates. Mr George is working with campaign charity Local Works to promote his proposal and to use a power in the Sustainable Communities Act to advance the campaign.

Mr George said:

Out-of-town retailers have everything their own way. If local enterprise hadn’t created the town centre in the first place then they wouldn’t have a host on whose back they could latch themselves.

“Out-of-town retailers have a very successful and profitable business model, but I do not believe that the business rating system fairly reflects the amount of business which comparable in-town and out-of-town retailers secure. That is why I think it is fair to give powers to local communities/authorities to introduce a supplementary business levy; the income from which would be used to benefit in-town retailers and their customers with free or lower priced first hour car parking, rate relief and other support.

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