Chancellor Philip Hammond could offer high street retailers a lifeline by slashing business rates by £300m in the UK’s most deprived towns and cities.

According to The Mail on Sunday, the move is being “actively considered” by ministers and could be introduced from next April.

The move would mean an immediate reduction in property taxes for the next two years.

A cut in rates could form part of a wider £800m reduction for businesses operating in areas of the UK where property values have slumped.

Retailers operating in such locations have been lumbered with higher rates than their property values merit, due to ‘downward transitional relief’.

The system, which the Treasury is now considering scrapping, means that reductions in business rates have been phased, rather than immediately falling following the last seven-year revaluation.

Growing pressure

Pressure is mounting on the Government to level the playing field for bricks-and-mortar-based businesses and introduce tax on digital firms such as Amazon, which have been accused of using complex company structures to reduce their tax liabilities.

The Tax Justice Network claims that the Treasury has the power to demand that firms publicly state their financial data country-by-country, under the Finance Act 2016.

The group said that would put pressure on online businesses to fork out an additional £2.5bn a year in taxes.

It estimates that the total underpaid tax for overseas-based multinational corporations operating through British subsidiaries is around £25bn.

A report being published today by the Tax Justice Network will state: “The UK Government has already legislated to be able to require publication, so no further parliamentary time is needed.

“All that is required is for the Chancellor Philip Hammond to simply announce that this legislation will now come into force – which he could do at any time.”