MPs will examine the controversial business rates system as the fate of embattled high streets continues to prompt concern.

An inquiry into business rates is to be launched by the Commons Treasury select committee, following complaints that retailers are unfairly burdened.

A joint Treasury and Housing, Communities and Local Government committee hearing is taking place this afternoon, led by Nicky Morgan MP.

It will look at the impact measures already planned are likely to have ”and how far they go to support struggling businesses, in light of the difficulties experienced by nationwide retailers such as Debenhams, Toys R Us and New Look”.

The committees “will also look current approach to business rates, as well as additional measures set out in the 2018 Budget, and the impact this has on high street businesses”.

Terms of reference for the inquiry will be published in the new year.

It is thought the inquiry will address the high business rates crippling big retailers and consider how to tax online-only companies.

Robert Hayton, head of UK business rates at Altus Group, responded positively to the committee’s intervention. He said: “The Budget measures, whilst great for independent retailers with smaller premises, did nothing to help those major retail and hospitality businesses that are reducing their estates and headcounts, often citing high rates as a contributory factor.”

Chancellor Philip Hammond offered almost £1bn of business rates relief in his last Budget. The cuts only applied to retail-occupied properties with a rateable value of less than £51,000, however, leaving big retailers unaffected.