More must be done to help high street businesses succeed and thrive and not fall victim to online retailers, an MP has warned.
Shipley MP Philip Davies said high street shops are the backbone of communities and vital to the local economy but were struggling to compete with online competitors.
He said: “Following the disappointing profit results from Debenhams today which follows hot on the heels from the difficulties of high street names such as Maplin, New Look, Toys R Us and others are experiencing, we must have a debate on what the Government can do to help high street retailers, particularly in small towns in my constituency like Shipley, Bingley and Baildon who are having a very difficult time.
“We need to look at how we can help them compete against on line retailers, particularly in relation to things like business rates, so that bricks and mortar retailers which are very much needed and welcome on our high streets can continue and thrive rather than struggle, as I am afraid they are doing at the moment.”
In November Chancellor Philip Hammond announced he would base the annual increases to business rates on the consumer price index, rather than the higher retail price index this year, two years earlier than planned.
Mr Davies said the move will help but businesses were still paying heftier sums in tax than their online counterparts.
Commons Leader Andrea Leadsom said all MPs are concerned about the health of high street shopping centres.
She added: “Mr Davies is also right to talk about competition from online, where perhaps business rates are making the difference between those succeeding in bricks and mortar and those doing better on line. He will be aware of our measures to reform business rates and to try and make it a more equal playing field. Obviously measures like Small Business Saturday and the work we all do as MPs to promote our own shopping areas are important.”
Business rates are the third biggest outgoing for local firms after rent and staff costs.