Chancellor Philip Hammond is reportedly mulling a £300 million lifeline for beleaguered high street retailers who have become worse off since the recent business rates reform.
According to The Mail on Sunday, the tax cut could be introduced next April and is reportedly being “actively considered” by government ministers.
Should it go ahead, the lifeline would mean an immediate reduction in property taxes for the next two years and would form part of a wider £800 million reduction for businesses operating in areas of the UK where property values have slumped.
The news comes after Hammond, after facing months of growing pressure from retailers and industry lobbyists, hinted in August that he may introduce tax changes to ensure high street retailers were able to compete with online rivals.
Several high-profile retail leaders have criticised the current business rates regime and the lack of level playing field between bricks-and-mortar and online-only retailers.
Next chief executive and Tory peer Lord Simon Wolfson was one of the more recent to have voiced his concerns, when he said that commercial property tax needed to be updated to reflect major changes in retail triggered by online shopping.
Other leaders who have previously criticised the business rates regime or called for reform include Tesco chief executive Dave Lewis, Sainsbury’s chief executive Mike Coupe, The Entertainer chief executive Gary Grant, Argos chief executive John Rogers, and retail expert and TV personality Mary Portas.
The British Retail Consortium, New West End Company and Bank of England governor Mark Carney have also flagged the tax for damaging the retail industry.
Hammond is expected to unveil the government’s autumn Budget on October 29.