In 2011 I was commissioned by the government to look at how we could save our high streets. Six years on and we were really making progress. So it’s strange to watch our leaders preparing to impose a new business rates revaluation that will cripple high-street shops. The tax bill which will hit retailers from April will be the single biggest blow to independent shops since the financial crisis. I would estimate that at least a third of them will die off. Ministers say that most businesses will see their rates fall, and that’s true in areas where house prices haven’t increased. But that is no use to small businesses where they have. They will be destroyed by the new rates, some of which are truly astonishing. In London the O2 Arena’s rates will rise by 142 per cent, while the Tower of London’s will go up by 90 per cent. Harrods and Selfridges already pay £18 million and £16 million respectively....
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