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MP accuses Government of ‘fiddling whilst town centres burn’ over business rates plans

May 14, 2019 1:32 PM

In the House of Commons yesterday, South Lakes MP Tim Farron poured scorn over the Government's plans for reforming business rates, saying they amounted to 'fiddling whilst town centres burn'.

Earlier this year Tim met with the Chancellor to propose a tax on mega online companies to raise enough money to halve business rates for struggling high street firms.

The call was backed this week by the boss of Tesco, Dave Lewis, who warned that the 'unsustainable' business rates system was pushing retailers across the country to breaking point.

New figures from the British Retail Consortium have revealed that the number of vacant shop units has hit a four-year high with one in 10 shops in UK town centres currently lying empty.

Speaking during a debate on the Non-Domestic Rating (Preparation for Digital Services) Bill, Tim said: "However valuable and commendable many of the proposals the minister mentions may be, does he not feel that this is somewhat like fiddling while Rome burns, or indeed while many of our town centres burn?

"There have been calls for a reduction of around 25% in high street business rates, and that could be funded by making sure that the tech giants pay their fair share of corporation tax."