FSB backs charge on large retailers

Calls for a local levy on large retailers, that would be used to invest in small firms, have been backed by the Federation of Small Businesses in South Yorkshire.

The calls come from Green Party councillors on Sheffield City Council.

They want the council to use powers under the Sustainable Communities Act that could result in a levy on retail units with a rateable value of more than £500,000.

The Greens and the FSB saythis would compensate small businesses whose rates tend to be a higher proportion of overall costs.

The FSB argues that large retailers, and giant food chains in particular, have caused a catalogue of damage to small shops, driving them from the high street.

Its South Yorkshire chairman, Andrew Flower, said: “Far from creating new jobs, new supermarkets cause a net loss of jobs in the local area as smaller traders are driven to closure. Whereas only five per cent of supermarkets’ turnover is reinvested locally, 50 per cent of the turnover of independent retailers goes back into the community.

“Other detrimental effects include excessive pollution and environmental impact, confusing discounting techniques, planning blight, damage to community life and poor working conditions, including the use of migrant labour by contractors and subcontractors.

“Bringing in a local levy would provide some redress for these damaging effects and the revenue could be used to support small businesses, especially in the retail sector.”

Under the Sustainable Communities Act, government can be forced to consider changes to legislation requested by local authorities to promote economic, social and environmental well-being in their areas.