The leader of Derby City Council has accused the government of being “intent on killing off local government” after communities secretary Eric Pickles shelved the local authority’s plans to increase business rates for supermarkets and large shops.
The city council had asked for town halls across England to be given the power to levy an additional tax of up to 8.5% of the business rate on large supermarkets and retail outlets, with an annual rateable value over £500,000, using the Sustainable Communities Act.
But Mr Pickles wrote to the local authority’s leader Ranjit Banwait (Lab) saying that the government “does not support these calls for higher taxation”.
He argued imposing additional taxes on supermarkets and larger shops would “ultimately push up the price of food and the cost of living” and argued that councils should instead seek to introduce more local business rate discounts.
In his letter Mr Pickles said: “Certainly high streets face challenges, but this is as much about the way that the internet is changing the way we shop in the 21st century: and it is as challenging for supermarkets’ old business models, as much as it is for small firms.
“In that context, your proposal is sadly an all-too-predictable siren call from some parts of local government: namely, the solution to every policy issue seems to be how to impose new taxes. This is a lazy way of thinking.”
Cllr Banwait said despite Mr Pickles’ letter he would continue to lobby for support for the council’s proposal to increase business rates for larger out-of-town retailers.
“This is a further example of a government intent on killing off local government,” he said.
“We will leave no stone unturned in our campaign to find solutions to protect local services.”