Bosses from 18 retailers have called on chancellor Rishi Sunak to permanently cut business rates in a bid to save the high street.

A letter signed by the bosses of retailers including Tesco, Asda, Morrisons, Waterstones and B&Q-owner Kingfisher has demanded a “fundamental reform of business rates”, calling on the chancellor to “back British shops”.

The letter warned that a failure by the Treasury to safeguard the high street could lead to greater job losses and slow the sector’s recovery.

Companies in the retail sector are currently eligible for business rates relief, but this is due to stop in April.

The letter said: “While we recognise the importance of business rates to the public finances, the current system is not sustainable in the long term and without reform shops at the heart of communities will be at risk.”

The letter calls for the business rates multiplier to be “significantly” reduced.

Tesco boss Ken Murphy has gone one step further by suggesting that a 1% sales tax should be levied on online retailers in order to “level the playing field”.

As Amazon was criticised last week for paying less tax than its bricks-and-mortar counterparts, the letter urged the government to “rebalance the tax base to ensure online and bricks-and-mortar retailers pay a similar proportion of tax”.