Clark told a fringe event at the Conservative party conference that a change in business rates would be “one way” of recognising the role that high street retailers play. He said the Treasury is conducting a review of business rates, but his view is the high street “makes a big contribution to the community, and to villages, towns and cities”.
“I think some recognition of that is required. Business rates will be one way of doing that,” Clark added.
The British Retail Consortium (BRC) revealed that retailers will pay an additional £2bn over the next three years compared to the last three years. In England, the retail industry contributes approximately £7bn of rates annually – nearly one quarter of all receipts.
The BRC said that business rates are “deterring investment in local communities, causing shop closures and job losses in hard-pressed communities” and preventing retailers from “delivering what their customers want in an efficient and cost-effective way”.
The news follows the announcement made by chancellor Philip Hammond in August that a introduction of a tax on online businesses will be considered. Hammond said: “We want to ensure that taxation is fair between businesses doing business the traditional way and those doing business online.”
The comments also come as the New West End Company is poised to lobby the government over a rates reduction of £5bn for all properties across all sectors this week.