Think-tank calls for local business tax incentives
By Lucy Phillips
21 December 2009
Councils should offer tax incentives to encourage local businesses to invest in their area, avoiding a surge in ‘ghost towns’, according to a think-tank.
A report by the New Local Government Network (NLGN) warned that 15% of high street shops are likely to be empty by Christmas. To prevent a further rise, the think-tank said councils should be allowed to give lower business rates to some new companies, and offset the cost by rising the rates for businesses considered ‘detrimental’ to the local area, such as betting shops and fast-food takeaways.
Small businesses and independent shops should also be subsidised to take over empty shops, the NLGN said, after revealing that 70% of former Woolworths stores remained empty a year after the discount-chain went into administration.
James Hulme, co-author of the report, warned: ‘Local councils need to take a pro-enterprise approach to saving the British high street and responding to the cycle of decline in our town centres. Only then will we get the high street off the low road.’
The report, High noon for the high street, also recommends introducing a levy on large-scale, out of town shopping centres to help fund town-centre development. A small parking fee should also be introduced at out-of-town complexes to subside cheaper town-centre parking and better public transport.