Think tank, the Policy Exchange, has called on the Government to implement a two-year freeze on business rates to ease the pressure on ailing high streets.
The Policy Exchange said the main factor causing high streets to deteriorate and shops to close is due to the four-fold increase in internet shopping since 2006.
Policy Exchange head of housing and planning Alex Morton said: “We believe that there is a case for a two-year freeze on business rates.
“But this only makes sense in the context of giving breathing space for further changes to retail policy to bring it into the 21st century.
“Policy needs to give high streets the best chance to reinvent or renew themselves but it should primarily focus on removing barriers to consumer choice that push up the cost of living, and must not assume all high streets can or should remain as shopping centres.”
The Policy Exchange said it publish a report on the future of the high street “shortly”.
The call to action follows a wave of urgent messages from retailers, MPs and the British Retail Consortium this week for the Government to reform the business rates system to enable retailers to invest and create new jobs.
Yesterday, BRC director general Helen Dickinson told the Business Innovation and Skills Select Committee in the first evidence hearing as part of the Inquiry into the UK Retail Sector that the business rates infrastructure should be “overhauled”.
On the same day MP for Rochester Simon Danczuk led a Westminster Hall debate into the Government’s response to the high street in which he accused the Government of using high streets as a “cash cow” from which to squeeze business rates.
Retail Week has been lobbying Government to charge retailers fairer business rates through the Fair Rates For Retail campaign, following onerous increases to the rates bills of over £500m in the past two years.