Retail growth and shop distress

In the USA and in the UK there has been great growth in internet retailing, overall growth in retail sales, and some hard knocks for some traditional retailers. In the US levels of distressed debt for retail companies, and the rate of bankruptcies is high  against a background of an expanding economy and growing disposable incomes. In the UK too there have been some recent casualties, traditional High Street shop  sales overall are disappointing, and internet sales are growing well.

Some say the playing field is not level. The traditional retailers of course need shop property and plenty of in store staff which the web retailers do not need. That is their choice, and they are trying to persuade shoppers that works for them as well.  It also means they have to pay more tax, incurring substantial property taxes on top of their additional cost base. Critics of the success stories of the digital age often allege the main companies do not pay a high enough tax charge.

The EU is saying it wants to make internet shopping dearer by imposing a turnover tax on digital companies on top of other taxes. Some say the internet companies need to pay some additional levy to allow for the property taxes they do not have to pay because they are on a different business model. Some traditional shop groups would just like some rate relief, to  make it a bit easier for them.

I am inviting contributors to say what they think should  be done, if anything? Is it just a case that the internet model has many attractions which will continue to win market share? Why do some large shopping centres attract more footfall than High Streets? What is the role of parking charges, access and the attitude of local government in settling which types of shops and shopping are popular, and which are in retreat?

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113 Comments

  1. Peter
    Posted April 20, 2018 at 5:20 am | Permalink

    A turnover tax is not necessary other than to swell the coffers of the EU.

    Governments should concentrate on collecting tax from those large corporations that currently avoid paying taxes.

    • Adam
      Posted April 20, 2018 at 7:51 am | Permalink

      It is UK citizens who bear the cost of unpaid taxes here. If our tax is charged only to the consumer, how could paying be avoided in our marketplace?

      • Peter
        Posted April 20, 2018 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

        I am referring to the large conglomerates who routinely avoid UK corporation tax by adjusting their accounts so that profits are a largely shown to appear in an overseas location.

        Loopholes like this could and should be addressed as a matter of urgency. There are plenty of alternatives who could run coffee shops, provide a mobile phone service, etc in the UK.

        • Edward2
          Posted April 20, 2018 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

          The Single Market allows multi national to designate one HQ nation for accounting purposes.
          They choose places like Ireland and Luxembourg

        • Adam
          Posted April 20, 2018 at 6:25 pm | Permalink

          The culprits’ deviousness was known & agreed, Peter. Charging tax on the sale price instead might eliminate their exploitive loopholes.

          • libertarian
            Posted April 21, 2018 at 7:42 pm | Permalink

            Adam

            We charge 20% tax on the sale price , its called VAT and all companies selling in the UK pay it

          • Adam
            Posted April 22, 2018 at 11:24 am | Permalink

            To libertarian:

            A higher rate of VAT would prevent companies’ tax avoidance, as well as encouraging consumers to assess their values better before buying.

  2. Mick
    Posted April 20, 2018 at 5:29 am | Permalink

    Britain is doing great considering all the doom and gloom put out in the referendum by the doom mongers
    But we still have these muppets in Westminster
    https://www.express.co.uk/news/politics/948640/brexit-news-theresa-may-uk-eu-european-union-customs-union
    Mrs May should call another GE only this time put some effort into it, now the people have a better understanding of the Eu and the two face remoaners I’m pretty sure she would get that big fat majority she missed out on last time, Labour/ snp/libs/ greens/Welsh would be greatly reduced in size now the voter know were a lot of the mps loyalties lies and it’s not with GB but the dreaded Eu

  3. Mark B
    Posted April 20, 2018 at 5:33 am | Permalink

    Good morning.

    Critics of the success stories of the digital age often allege the main companies do not pay a high enough tax charge.

    Can I please ask our kind host to direct us to these ‘critics’ ?

    The reason I ask is, it is sometimes the case that these ‘critics’ tend to receive government or supranational government money to tell the government what it wants to do anyway, insuring the government has some legitimacy in their actions.

    It is strange that on the one hand the government and the EU (never assume that the EU does things without intergovernmental consultation) seek to raise taxes due to unfairness as they see it, but never realise that it is government itself through taxation that creates this unfairness. It is also worth pointing out that larger online retailers can minimise their tax by either off-shoring or, through the use of clever accountants and tax planning. The small independent online retailer cannot compete and so will be hardest hit.

    It is clear that whenever government become involved less tax but more subsidy (usually for large corporations or so called charities) is extracted to the detriment of competitiveness and the consumer.

    Perhaps if the government want a level playing field they might wish to cut their own spending and the need for such a large tax take, reducing costs on the high street.

  4. Fedupsoutherner
    Posted April 20, 2018 at 5:51 am | Permalink

    Shops are having a bad time with large rate rises. Bad weather makes internet ordering more attractive. Parking charges are not helpful to anyone. We have enjoyed free parking in our local town but the council has recently announced parking charges. This will be a step backwards with more closures and less income for the council. Since I have been recovering from a major operation recently I have not been able to drive or get out much so I have found it convenient to order reading material online through one of the UK’s largest warehouses. They offer fast delivery and good prices but reportedly do not pay their fair share of taxes. Perhaps charging a tax for online companies might level the playing field. I know when it comes to buying clothes and shoes I would sorely miss the high street shops.

    • Dan H.
      Posted April 20, 2018 at 10:34 am | Permalink

      One simple change would relieve a lot of this pressure: alter the law so that the money from ALL fines goes to central government, not to local councils.

      Do that, and all of a sudden car parking fines aren’t a revenue source for the council any longer. At this point, they are forced to think of a different way to make money, and council-run car parks are likely to be the best answer, as well as being kinder to the general public.

      Alternatively, leave things alone and watch the high street shopping areas wither and die, and the out of town free parking malls prosper…

    • Anonymous
      Posted April 20, 2018 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

      Where there are parking charges the fee is always charged at an odd amount with ‘no change given’.

      I must register my car index number and I cannot give my ticket, with time left on it, to a friend. I’ve paid for that space for a set time. If they won’t give me a refund then I should be allowed to pass the time on to someone else.

  5. Freeborn John
    Posted April 20, 2018 at 5:57 am | Permalink

    John; now is the critical time in the battle to get the UK out of the EU customs union and open up trade with the rest of the world. British Remoaner MPs, the EU Commission and Irish and other governments are all pushing to keep the UK in. The UK government is silent but May and Olly Robbins have form in surrendering which has encouraged the Remoaners and no doubt Philip Hammon is trying to undermine from within Cabinet. So it is vital at this critical hour that you and likeminded colleagues do everything to deliver a proper Brexit that allows us to sign trade deals with non-EU countries. So please work on brexit full time at this critical moment rather than things you cannot hope to influence such as worldwide impact of technological change on bricks and mortar shops!

    Reply I am! But I am not going to write the same article every day saying we should leave!

    • Ian wragg
      Posted April 20, 2018 at 7:09 am | Permalink

      We now have the final game plan no doubt urged on by our own civil service and politicians.
      Brussels rejects any solution to Ireland no matter how sensible so May can say that the only solution is to stay in the Customs Union.
      Next month we will be told that isn’t sufficient and we will have to stay in the Single Market.
      Finally this will only be acceptable if we pay Danegeld of £10 billion annually. Game, set and match to the Remainiacs.
      Print this off as a reminder as to what spineless and treacherous bunch of politicians we have.

      • ChrisS
        Posted April 20, 2018 at 7:30 am | Permalink

        The European Parliament itself has concluded that the Irish border shouldn’t be a problem at all : Last year a report was commissioned on the subject by the European Parliament’s Policy Department for Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional Affairs.

        It was published in November 2017 and it makes it crystal clear that there is an eminently workable border solution that meets all the needs of both parties using existing technology !

        http://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/STUD/2017/596828/IPOL_STU(2017)596828_EN.pdf

        You only need to read the two-paragraph summary on page 11 to appreciate that the Irish border is no problem at all.

        Remember this is a report produced by Brussels, not by Brexiteers :

        “It is possible to implement a Customs and Border solution that meets the requirements of the EU Customs legislation (Union Customs Code) and procedures, with expected post-Brexit volumes of cross-border people and goods, if using a combination of international standards, global best practices and state-of-the-art technology upgraded to a Smart Border 2.0 or similar solution.”

        It’s obvious that Varadkar is just out to make things as difficult as possible for us and for domestic political reasons.

        With their own report saying that this isn’t a problem, you have to ask what Brussels is up to giving Ireland a veto ………………..

        Why haven’t our Government been using this report to support their case ?

      • Alison
        Posted April 20, 2018 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

        Yes. And one could see this coming many months ago (Brussels blocking any Ireland solution, so only solution = stay in Customs Union). I think we the public have to stress to our MPs, get others to do so too, that this would be democratic betrayal. It would be massively damaging. (I fear ‘would’ should be ‘will’).
        A plea from this reader to fellow readers ….

    • Richard1
      Posted April 20, 2018 at 7:31 am | Permalink

      If it is really the case that the govt will agree – or Parliament will force it to agree – to stay in the customs union and in ‘regulatory alignment’ (ie in the single market) in order to solve the contrived problem of the Irish border it would be better and more honest to say we just can’t leave the EU. whatever the people might want, and even if the Govt thinks we should leave the EU, now we have seen what nonsense the prognoses of Project Fear were, the Govt will just have to say sorry it’s all too difficult we will have to stay in. Better a member of the EU than in the customs union and single market but with no vote. Perhaps there should be referendum choice of in the EU or out but not really.

      • Mark B
        Posted April 20, 2018 at 10:55 am | Permalink

        Europlastic !

    • John Soper
      Posted April 20, 2018 at 7:47 am | Permalink

      It’s over. Read the Telegraph front page. We are staying in the customs union. Only way to resolve the Irish issue. All the same laws too. So – no new trade deals, EU rules in perpatuity, and free movement as well. No point in leaving

      • ian wragg
        Posted April 20, 2018 at 10:34 am | Permalink

        This has been the game plan all along. I do fear there will be some insurrection if this turns out to be the case.
        For decades we were told the EU was just a trading block with minimal direct effect on our daily lives. We now find out it has almost 100% control over us and a majority of our rulers who like it that way.
        I wouldn’t like to be a politician who voted for this if we get stitched up.
        It will be open season.

        • roger
          Posted April 20, 2018 at 10:30 pm | Permalink

          And quite right too, although going for the lords seems a bit unsporting.
          But what the hell, go for it!

      • Richard1
        Posted April 20, 2018 at 10:34 am | Permalink

        Agreed. If we are in both the customs union and the single market it would be better to run up the white flag in negotiations and say we prefer to cancel article 50 and stay in. The Govt needs to be honest about this if that’s where we end up.

      • Alison
        Posted April 20, 2018 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

        Following Ian’s, Richard’s, John’s comments: so we the UK can’t make a sovereign, constitutional decision (to leave the EU), because of (a) trade and (b) the worry about terrorists. We the UK are forced to be subjugated. Not good.

    • Freeborn John
      Posted April 20, 2018 at 11:12 am | Permalink

      There are plenty of fresh points that could me made. There is an existing border between EU member state and Norway that is outside the customs union where technology is in use that means private vehicles rarely get stopped. The only impediment currently when travelling in either direction between the UK and Ireland is a passport check at Dublin airport which should not be necessary but is there anyway. Somehow this passport check in Dublin does not seem to violate the good Friday agreement and no war has broken out because of it so why checks imposed by the EU on traffic in one direction from NI into the Republic be a problem. I don’t think the UK has any intention to make checks in the other direction so whatever future checks the Irish don’t like should be a matter for them to discuss with Brussels.

      Right now there is complete silence from the UK government and Leave supporting MPs vacating the field to those who want to stay in the customs union. There needs to be an urgent counter offensive pursued with the utmost vigour from a wide body of MPs. Bricks and mortar can wait but if the battle to leave the customs union is lost it will take many years of fresh struggle to liberate us again during which time Remoaners will be saying we might as well rejoin the EU. We need trade deals with the US and others before the next election so that the business community has reason to support a new status quo in our trade with the rest of the world which would be negatively disrupted should we ever consider rejoining the EU.

      Reply Government policy is to leave the Customs Union and I have often explained why and will do so again, but not every day!

  6. Anonymous
    Posted April 20, 2018 at 6:05 am | Permalink

    So what happens when the high street is finally killed off ? What will the council (government) go after then to fund state busy bodies.

    • Bob
      Posted April 20, 2018 at 7:56 am | Permalink

      This is the point, they tax too much, and it kills off the activity that drives the economy. The govt should focus it’s attention on how it spends the money rather than constantly asking for more. The spending is out of control.

      The fabulous pensions your govt have agreed to pay for retired British Eurocrats should be subject to UK tax and Lifetime Allowance along with the rest of us.

    • Leslie Singleton
      Posted April 20, 2018 at 8:23 am | Permalink

      Dear Anon–I’m with you–Never ceases to amaze me that businesses do a ton of work for the government but instead of being paid for collecting PAYE and doing God only knows what else, as a visiting Martian might expect, they have to pay taxes and rates and incur expense and waste their valuable time rather than receive recompense. I say again I have no idea apart from Government uselessness why an employer should have to get involved in, never mind contribute to, his employees’ pensions. Just staying abreast of the Law and Tax changes and for instance coping with the genderism baloney is a full time necessity in itself.

      • Anonymous
        Posted April 20, 2018 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

        I happened to spend time in the company of payrolled outreach workers, social workers and probation officers. Frighteningly socialist in outlook.

        Local businesses are closing some bosses explaining on TV that they are working for below minimum wage per hour.

      • Peter Parsons
        Posted April 20, 2018 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

        If an employer is employing someone, they are also, presumably making some sort of profit out of employing that person (otherwise why would they do so).

        Pension contributions are simply salary deferred. The more contributed (and contributed earlier in life) to a pension while working, the higher that person’s income and standard of living in retirement, and the lower the burden on the rest of us to support them through the taxation system, and it therefore makes sense to encourage it (and require it if encouragement proves not to be sufficient). As the population demographic continues towards an increasing number of pensioners, there needs to be mechanisms for those who will become pensioners in the future to become more self-sufficient and workplace pensions are simply part of that process. Without this, the tax demands on the working age population to support those who have retired will become unsustainable.

        • Leslie Singleton
          Posted April 20, 2018 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

          Dear Peter–I think very much otherwise–All that you say should be the responsibility of the recipient–Perhaps allocate a percentage of wages and “require” that the eventual recipient invest the same in a to-be-devised Government-approved scheme. The employer should be left to get on with his business and BTW employ more people. The burdens on employers in this country are ridiculous.

          • Peter Parsons
            Posted April 21, 2018 at 7:16 pm | Permalink

            Yet what you suggest is, in effect, exactly what the workplace pension scheme does.

            These schemes are defined contribution, so there is no need for the employer to do anything beyond allocate their percentage of wages.

  7. jonP
    Posted April 20, 2018 at 6:09 am | Permalink

    Don’t know why you would want to bring this up as a subject for discussion at this time- unless you want to have another dig at the EU about taxes etc..but since we are going to be free of the EU soon enough it won’t matter much what they say or do as we’ll be in charge of our own destiny even when it comes to retail.. hope we don’t make a mess of it the same as we’ve done with Windrush.. however that said, there are many things about retail, for and against, that are very obvious.. and as we know fashions change.. do you remember the old tv sitcom ‘Are you being served’ .. so do anyone think we’ll ever go back to that style of retail?..don’t think so.

    Yesterday I bought a new lawn mower from the local hardware shop..I was in and out of the shop in five minutes..two of the shop workers loaded it up for me into the boot of my wagon..simple.

    On the other hand the internet is great for shopping too..no problem here..we already do all of our banking on line, as we file our taxes..we should also be voting this way in general elections and local elections.. times change, it’s all about whatever is convenient now and saves time! it’s about taking back control in a real sense..there will also come the time when we won’t even need politicians..we’ll be able to govern ourselves by a few clicks from our living rooms?

  8. sm
    Posted April 20, 2018 at 6:25 am | Permalink

    I’d suggest that the owners/managers of traditional shops, selling any kind of goods, need to up their game and modernise:

    1. There needs to be more staff on the shop floor, trained to help and present themselves pleasantly.

    2. Aggressively loud music may be welcome in shops that only want young customers, but it’s the middle-aged and older who tend to have more disposable income and dislike the ear-bashing.

    3. Extend the opportunities to actually see (and try on, where appropriate) the range of goods on offer in a retail environment, then carry out the payment/delivery transaction in the store. Many people either don’t have the technology to do it all on line, or don’t want to spend a lot of time and money on something they have only seen on a screen and may have to return if the purchase turns out to be wrong.

  9. Epikouros
    Posted April 20, 2018 at 6:47 am | Permalink

    It is sad that you have to ask the question and that government in this case the ubiquitous and overweening EU is once again trying to stem the tide of progress or keep her citizens from behaving in their own best interests. Consumers gravitating away from bricks and mortar shopping even the large out of town shops and malls are losing footfall and moving to internet shopping it is obvious why. The reason comfort, convenience and cost. Local councils and other factors have always made high street shopping a tedious chore and the move away from it has been happening long before internet shopping became fashionable.

    Loss of tax revenue is a worry as it leaves the government short and the taxpayer having to cough up somewhere else to make up the shortfall. Better would be that government spends less. In this topsy turvy world that is not what is going to happen. So raise it elsewhere government will. Taxing internet retailers more is not the answer if it is to punish them at the behest of the bleeding heart social warrior brigade. Taxes should be raised and legislation should be enacted that does no harm or at best the least harm and for legitimate well thought out and the consequences thoroughly investigated and known reasons. Not as it is now for mostly political reasons or to placate vested interests or as a knee jerk reaction to dangers that are more in the perception than they are in the reality.

    • Anonymous
      Posted April 20, 2018 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

      Where internet shopping cannot be beaten is choice and the ability to research.

      If I’m looking for a product I go straight to owner reviews.

      • mancunius
        Posted April 20, 2018 at 6:00 pm | Permalink

        Many of the reviews are written by the retailer/ manufacturer /shareholder – or by a rival – pretending to be an innocent private buyer.

  10. Lifelogic
    Posted April 20, 2018 at 6:57 am | Permalink

    The solutions are simple let the market decide just get a level playing field in taxes and rates, relax planning so buildings can be converted to different uses. Stop mugging motorists in town centres. Reduce taxes and cut government. Alas we have May and Hammond with the highest taxes for 40 years. Warming up for Corbyn it seems.

    • Mitchel
      Posted April 20, 2018 at 10:33 am | Permalink

      A little bedtime reading for you LL-the Long Read in today’s Guardian written by Yanis Varoufakis:

      “Marx predicted our present crisis-and points the way out”

      • Edward2
        Posted April 20, 2018 at 4:02 pm | Permalink

        Crisis, what crisis?
        Marx predicted the end of capitalism and the “glorious revolution” many decades ago.
        Socialism in it’s various forms has never worked and has murdered millions.
        And don’t say Sweden…..

        • WA Laugh
          Posted April 20, 2018 at 7:39 pm | Permalink

          You may want to read Varoufakis and realise that his point is slightly more complex than the simplistic image you seem to have (without having read it, I guess).
          As for the Glorious Revolution … do not start me on this.

          • Edward2
            Posted April 21, 2018 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

            I have read his opinions thanks.
            An economist who believes in the magic money tree idea.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted April 20, 2018 at 11:48 am | Permalink

      I contend that for a nation to try to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle.
      Winston S. Churchill

      Were he alive today he would doubless add “regulate, over litigate and push expensive green crap energy” to tax!

  11. Mark Hodgson
    Posted April 20, 2018 at 7:03 am | Permalink

    I agree with much that sm says, but would add that I think that in the digital age the business rates model is badly broken. What is the logic behind a tax that bears no reality to a business’ profits (and therefore ability to pay) and imposes a crippling burden on many a business before it can even get started? Business rates impose a non-level playing field on retail offerings, and are helping to kill the High Street.

    Add to that the attitude of many local councils to parking, and it’s the perfect storm for the High Street. I live in a northern market town, and the car parking charges are high. Traffic wardens relentlessly and aggressively patrol car parks and free hour bays (which the Council wanted to turn into 30 minute bays, but was forced to retreat amid a storm of protest). The same wardens say they have no remit over double yellow lines, so now people just park on yellow lines (apparently with impunity, since the police aren’t interested either) rather than risk a fine for being a minute late or half an inch over a white parking bay line.

    But rates are the main problem. They are long overdue to be replaced with a profits tax (not a turnover tax, since turnover and profits (= ability to pay) often are not the same thing.

    NB I’m a consumer, not a retailer. I have no vested interest, other than a desire to see our local High Street thrive.

    • Adam
      Posted April 20, 2018 at 8:09 am | Permalink

      Those who try to impose a level playing field oppose the flow of nature. Difference is the essence of existence.

  12. Walt
    Posted April 20, 2018 at 7:08 am | Permalink

    Companies that do business here and make profits here should pay tax here. That should apply to ‘clicks’ web-based businesses as it does to ‘bricks’ conventional businesses. Example: John Lewis is a very good retailer and pays UK taxes on its buildings and profits, but increasingly it is competing against foreign-owned web-based companies that make profits here but which have artificial corporate structures that channel their profits via Eire and similar to avoid paying much if any UK tax.

    • hefner
      Posted April 20, 2018 at 7:33 am | Permalink

      Seconded. But do the Government and the Houses have what it takes to make the GaFA and other similar supra-national corporations pay their taxes where they generate their profits. Looking at the past 45 years and the present state of trading, and what the various successive Governments have done, I am afraid the answer is “No” or “inviting contributors to say what they think should be done” and then do … not much.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted April 20, 2018 at 11:50 am | Permalink

      Indeed and after Brexit we can sort that. It is an EU law generated problem to a large degree.

      • WA Laugh
        Posted April 20, 2018 at 7:46 pm | Permalink

        Ah ah ah, I am looking forward to 2021 to see how the GaFA and other such will be queueing, unencumbered by EU regulations, to pay the UK the tax on the profits generated in the UK.
        Haven’t you followed the recent Facebook saga?
        Anyway it is not forbidden to dream …

        • Edward2
          Posted April 21, 2018 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

          If the rate of tax here in the UK is competitive then they will.
          Bit like Ireland Luxembourg today with multi nationals registering there for corporate tax.

  13. DaveM
    Posted April 20, 2018 at 7:09 am | Permalink

    How about – just for once – the govt just keeps its nose out? My totally unsubstantiated opinion (based on observation, common sense, and actually living life in the real world) is that small high street businesses were destroyed by large chain corporations which flourished due to the government ensuring they had cheap labour and low import tariffs, whilst at the same time turning a blind eye to local govt taking whatever they could from said corporations regardless of what happened to local businesses.

    Demand feeds supply; the monopoly of large corporations on the high street allowed them total freedom to push up prices which in turn drove people to use cheaper internet retailers.

    No doubt, however, MPs who have no idea whatsoever what it’s like to live in the real world, will interfere again and **** it up for everyone. Again.

    • alan jutson
      Posted April 20, 2018 at 9:22 am | Permalink

      DaveM

      Agreed, the tax raising model is broken, there is now a complete disconnect between Local and Central Government with regards to responsibilities and funding.

      The result, both are now trying to tax the life out of every service they possibly can, with the result being abject failure, and the eventual killing of the goose.

      Lack of parking, high charges for parking, over vigilant car parking enforcement, Excessive Business rates, and high rents, are just some of the pressures on the high street, without even mentioning the competition of on line purchasing working from out of town sheds, or even abroad.

      The general public will look back in dismay and eventually wake up, when touchy feely shopping with advice and physical choice ceases to be the norm.
      Likewise will the government when the existing tax revenue falls.

      More and more shopping carried backwards and forwards over poor and congested road surfaces, as goods are purchased and then returned as unsuitable seems to be the future.

      This is the modern keyboard/monitor screen World.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted April 20, 2018 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

        Indeed they are slowly kiiling the goose upon which they parasite. All they want is good wages and gold plated pensions and nothing much of any value to do

  14. ChrisS
    Posted April 20, 2018 at 7:19 am | Permalink

    You reap what you sow : For decades local and central government have been milking retail businesses for all they are worth. Business rates, payroll taxes and crippling rates of VAT which, remember, was only 8% at one time. Then we have the campaign against motor vehicles, especially cars with very high parking charges and other restrictions.

    With out of town shopping malls and the internet, shoppers no longer have to trudge round carrying everything they have bought to a bus stop or back to an expensive multi-storey car park. At almost every physical shopping facility in the UK, parking spaces are too small for almost all modern cars.

    So why would a potential customer want to go to a town centre to shop any more ?

    We should embrace online shopping and the spread of out of town shopping facilities. For shopping, town centres have had their day and their design and layout are no longer fit for purpose. They need to be redeveloped and used for other purposes. Entertainment and housing spring to mind.

  15. Nig l
    Posted April 20, 2018 at 7:31 am | Permalink

    Eighty per cent of my shopping is on line, greater choice, transparent competitive pricing, easy delivery and return. The remainder is the small must have now items often provided by large out of town retailers where I can get everything from clothes to food under one roof or my local convenience store and no parking charges albeit they are not the game changer.

    Going into town to shop is a thing of the past for me. We are told we need more dwellings, local councils should acknowledge what is happening, stop pushing back and authorise and encourage these empty shops to be converted into places fir people to live.

  16. Adam
    Posted April 20, 2018 at 7:35 am | Permalink

    Adding another type & layer of tax is typical of EU ineptitude. Why penalise the efficient operators to make the inefficient more competitive?

    If however the motive is to raise income for Govt spending: Raise tax from the end-using consumer. The end price dictates whether something is worth producing, & harnesses costs all the way back to the extraction of raw materials.

    High Streets might then be better-used for housing than product beauty contests.

  17. Know-Dice
    Posted April 20, 2018 at 7:43 am | Permalink

    Are the Internet giants unfairly vilified?

    Those based in the UK will pay business rates, they will pay employers NI, they will charge and pay VAT, they will employ people.

    As you say certain people intimate

    “The traditional retailers of course need shop property and plenty of in store staff which the web retailers do not need.”

    This is ridiculous, web retailers no staff and no warehouse…I don’t think so…

    Can the blame for moving profit centres be aimed squarely at Jean-Claude Juncker when he was the arch proponent of this when he was Prime Minister of Luxembourg, and Minister for Finances?

    I will always use local services when I can, but avoid high street shopping just because of excessive parking charges.

    Certainly the EU’s proposal for a “turnover tax on digital companies” is just a money grab to as a certain person on here would say “pi55 down the drain”.

  18. Fedupsoutherner
    Posted April 20, 2018 at 7:52 am | Permalink

    One thing is for sure. Buying online is not so easy when the goods turn out to be faulty. Returning things is much easier when purchased from a relatively local store. Another reason I would miss the high street.

  19. Richard1
    Posted April 20, 2018 at 7:59 am | Permalink

    Interesting interview with a Singaporean minister this am which touched on this issue and Brexit. First he made clear the EU- Singapore agreeement should immediately transition to the independent U.K. in a way that Continuity Remain have always denied would happen. Second he pointed out that the Commonwealth exists because the industrial revolution started in Britain 300years ago. Likewise today the key thing is to understand the current technological revolution. So often the EU is a force for protection and for stifling innovation in the interest of established producers, at the expense of innovation and therefore of current and future consumers. Post Brexit the U.K. should Resist attempts to over regulate and tax innovative businesses, even if they are US companies.

  20. agricola
    Posted April 20, 2018 at 8:05 am | Permalink

    It is futile to try to stop the move from large retail high street shops to the internet. Maybe the same retailers should consider turning their shops into smaller showrooms from which they could order for home delivery. My secretary is currently buying furniture on the internet but the only showroom is one hundred miles away. Much better were it in her high street.

    In many cases local government and it’s taxes, way in excess of the services it provides, is culpable in the demise of the high street. Combine it with a lack of parking and then at exorbitant rates, and you have every incentive to shop out of town or on the internet.

    It is grossly unfair that the “Screaming Pig” coffee shop has to compete on unequal terms with the large overseas incorporated large coffee chains. The latter have too many tax wheezes to shift all their profit outside the remit of HMRC. It would be better that all such businesses were subject to a turnover tax by outlet so levelling the playing field.

  21. formula57
    Posted April 20, 2018 at 8:35 am | Permalink

    ” Is it just a case that the internet model has many attractions which will continue to win market share?” – Yes.

    Nearly all of my shopping is now via the internet and I have come to find it tiresome to visit traditional retailers.

    Retail parks are typically just full of chain stores and crowds and town centres if not run-down are often the same with the added disadvantage of parking problems. I prefer to wait at home for the delivery vans.

  22. Dave Andrews
    Posted April 20, 2018 at 8:48 am | Permalink

    If we are really worried about the High Street (not that local or central government are), maybe a preferential VAT rate would help.
    At the moment, anyone with the temerity to open a High Street business becomes the target for tax from every direction, whether or not they actually make a profit.
    You would almost think government policy was to encourage the black economy as the only avenue for anyone to be successful.

  23. Russell
    Posted April 20, 2018 at 8:51 am | Permalink

    The best job a conservative can do is to stand aside and enable new technology and ideas to take root. Life in general will then improve over time as Schumpeters creative destruction works its magic. Leave the role of King Canute to others, your job will be to point out how futile their actions are.

    Where I do perceive a problem is that large multinationals have an advantage of more imaginative tax planning. This is an option that is not available to your local newsagent. Economies of scale are a natural consequence of size and should not confuse the issue but the judicious location of intangible assets, debts and patents are all options that are not open to our high street shops. I trust that the Treasury is constantly looking at the potential revenue lost by this financial engineering.

    In the long run Government will have to think about where it will get its revenue from if automation moves from our factories into our offices. This could be a non problem because so far we seem to be creating more jobs than ever although more and more could be for the minimum wage.

  24. a-tracy
    Posted April 20, 2018 at 9:19 am | Permalink

    It’s supermarkets that are killing local town centres. When they started treading on small retailers toes selling not just food but clothes, tvs and closed down our local tv store we’d reguarly bought items from, flowers – oops there goes all the little florists, they opened up in store butchers then closed them after the butchers closed and we now just get pre-packed rubbish tasteless meat to choose from so we stop going. They started baking speciality bread and closed down all the local bakers, once closed they stopped stocking so much speciality bread, now we get cardboard bread sometimes. What are their business rates in comparison to the 20 little shops they closed down? Are all our supermarkets taxed in the UK? No. Then instead of one or two supermarkets rules were relaxed and suddenly each Primary Town has 7 or 8. Well, now you’ll reap what you sow, poor serviced supermarkets selling the most profitable ranges with little choice.

    • a-tracy
      Posted April 20, 2018 at 9:23 am | Permalink

      Plus the Supermarkets usually have the free parking but only for the hour or two for their store! Then the Council bash the shoppers of the small retailers with ridiculous parking charges. The Councils will kill off their own fatted calves of small family retailers and the big beasts from other Nations will play our own supermarkets at their own pricing game until they’re weak, the circle of retail life.

  25. JM
    Posted April 20, 2018 at 9:22 am | Permalink

    This is a proper ‘P”olitical debate where the decisions made will have a direct impact on the course of our country. It is true that high street business, in a variety of ways, are taxed more heavily than online business. In no small part this is because through perfectly legitimate tax structures online business are able to offshore their profits – hence the attraction of a turnover tax for these businesses.

    There can be no doubt that the cost of parking acts as a disincentive for travel into and out of our cities. Why local politicians cannot understand this is a mystery to me. Why drive into town and park at cost when you can shop online at no cost or visit an out of town shopping centre and park conveniently at no cost?

    If we value our high streets, then politicians (both local and national) need to consider how high street businesses are taxed and how easy they make it for the customers of those business to gain access to them.

    All tax modifies behaviour. All subsidies (including benefits) modify behaviour. Sometimes the modification is unexpected and unintended. However, when making policy, politicians need to remember this. People don’t like paying out money when they do not have to and will seek ways of avoiding so doing. Equally people like to receive money if they can and will seek ways of so doing.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted April 20, 2018 at 11:54 am | Permalink

      Indeed taxation at the sort of levels we have is hugely damaging to the economy as is the absurd complexity. But Osborne and Hammond are economically illiterate. May too, this as she retains him and even thinks there is a gender pay gap!

  26. Treasure cave
    Posted April 20, 2018 at 9:24 am | Permalink

    In 60 years my local council has “improved”the market.( hundreds of years old ) Slowly it has turned stalls where you could wander finding old and new oddments not on sale usually. Then they got neater, and neater until now you might just as well be in a shop, no difference.Ruined!

    • Simon Platt
      Posted April 20, 2018 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

      Pah! That’s nothing. Preston City Council has wrecked our market in about 18 months flat.

    • Peter
      Posted April 20, 2018 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

      Lots of councils do that. The fruit and veg stalls and fishmongers disappear and are replaced by traders offering all sorts of takeaway ‘street’ food and ‘artisan’ coffee stalls (whatever that means). So there is no real reason to visit the market anymore.

      This is even worse in central London. Firms abandoned their staff restaurants and canteens, so more workers are around looking for something to eat at lunchtime. Leather Lane, Exmouth market etc – all ruined.

  27. Daniel Chilvers
    Posted April 20, 2018 at 9:24 am | Permalink

    1. Better to cut tax (business rates) on the traditional high street shops.
    2. Use technology to vary parking costs to reflect peak and off peak times to encourage more high street visits at quiet times.
    3. Do more to reduce harassment of high street shoppers and the traders. Beggars, rough sleepers & in your face charities are not a problem in shopping centers and online.
    4. Online and shopping centers have their place but I value a strong and vibrant central area of my town for meeting and community and of course shops and restaurants etc. I would like the authorities to understand their actions often drive consumers away rather than attract them and end their arrogant belief that town and city centers are a cash cow to be harvested.

    • Sam Duncan
      Posted April 20, 2018 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

      Good comment. It’s depressing (and I don’t blame Mr. Redmond himself; it’s just the way politics is these days) that most of the ideas he gives involve artificially hampering the internet retailers – trying to render them as uncompetitive, expensive, and awkward to use as the high street – rather than removing legal, tax, and regulatory obstructions from traditional ones, making it easier for them to compete.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted April 20, 2018 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

      No 3 is a very good point.

  28. a-tracy
    Posted April 20, 2018 at 9:30 am | Permalink

    My husband prefers internet shopping for virtually everything he needs. I prefer to feel, touch, try on and the whole shopping experience, the exercise walking around, being among other people (sometimes), helpful shopping assistants is very important, sitting in a cafe watching the world go by, street acts, that’s why the out of town full day experience shopping centres attract as long as they’re not too busy.

    I get frustrated when he buys over the internet and its nothing like it claims on the screen when you have to take back and organise returns, and my parents still don’t trust paying for things with your card over the internet or doing online banking, they prefer to be instore including choosing holidays, when this generation goes I see whole small towns being converted to housing.

    • alan jutson
      Posted April 20, 2018 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

      a-tracy

      I am with you on most of these comments !

  29. Ron Olden
    Posted April 20, 2018 at 9:35 am | Permalink

    Insofar as this is market driven, events must take their course. But the tax situation is making matters FAR worse for retailers than it need be.

    The costs of abolishing Business Rates in their entirety is probably much too much. But giving all Retail outlets a Tax Credit of (say) £6,000 to set against their Business Rate bill, and 30% remission on the balance, would be affordable.

    The money can be replaced by making a small amount of input VAT non reclaimable for all businesses, so altering the balance of the tax they all pay, away from a fixed amount regardless of ability to pay, in favour of one which bears more relation to turnover.

    The present situation for High Street shops is impossible. Apart from competition from Online Retailers who pay far less Business Rates per unit of sale, they are in competition with charity shops who pay no Business Rates , virtually no employers NIC, or staff wages, and get most of their stock free as well.

  30. alan jutson
    Posted April 20, 2018 at 9:36 am | Permalink

    Just returned from the Caribbean with all of colourful market stalls, independent shops, smiling faces and laughter.
    A whole range of very competitive priced goods sold from makeshift tables and shelters, where rules are basic and simple, those who arrive first get the best position, sell their goods at a price they fix themselves.

    Yes the majority seem poorer, much poorer, but for many they have the opportunity to trade themselves into so called wealth, without having to complete endless paperwork and the excessive rules and regulations which the government or Town Council demand.

    The simple fact is you need far, far less money to survive in this culture, than you do in the UK or many other so called developed Countries.

    And yes they do have a good school system, in some cases a rather better run model than our own, they also have medical cover, perhaps not as extensive as the NHS but it does exist.

    • alan jutson
      Posted April 20, 2018 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

      Not suggesting we go back to this sort of level of simplistic trading with little or no rules, but we have now lost sight of reality and the basics.

      Trading should be a simple agreement between the buyer and seller, why do we need huge layers of tax, regulation, health and safety, insurance clauses, employment laws, dispute procedures.

      Surely there must be a more cost effective method that does not involve such huge overheads, but which still gives sensible protection.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted April 20, 2018 at 4:27 pm | Permalink

        Indeed to much government, trade is about a buyer and a seller agreeing a deal or not.

  31. Rien Huizer
    Posted April 20, 2018 at 9:45 am | Permalink

    Retailers deserve no more or less than a level playing field. The problem is defining “level” and even more importantly, “playing field”. Internet based retailing is an inherentky different way of satifying consumer needs (or nurturing them) and the earlky growth, in the US was made easier by competition between states and poorly designed sales taxes. In Europe, internet retailers should be subject (and usually are) to the same VAT and profit taxes. Given the different business model, their physical footprint is much smaller but the support system of internet retailing (warehouses, delivery systems etc) involves all sorts of firms that pay road taxed, registration, employ workers etc. The “Bricks” people need to become more competitive (value proposition and or cost) or Leave. Of course, the better “bricks” firms have internet based retailing as well, but not in most conventional shopping areas. Why subsidize a losing battle?

  32. B Potter
    Posted April 20, 2018 at 9:56 am | Permalink

    Perhaps it would be fairest if the online companies paid a contribution towards the business rates of the normal retailers. After all, the latter so frequently act as an unpaid shop front for the former where the customer will use his local store to examine a product prior to buying it online at a cheaper price.

  33. English Pensioner
    Posted April 20, 2018 at 10:15 am | Permalink

    Most politicians seem to see that the solution to most problems is more taxes, for example the recently introduced sugar tax. This is easy and brings in money, but whether such taxes are effective, only time will tell.
    We need to ensure that the internet traders pay their fair share of taxes, not have special ‘internet trading’ taxes. The suspicion is that many of the large foreign owned companies (including some on the high street) don’t pay their fair share of taxes by accountancy tricks which show that, apparently, they don’t make much profit in this country. This sort of thing needs to be stopped.
    One aspect, that I’m surprised hasn’t been made an issue by the Trade Unions, is the working conditions in these large warehouse complexes. We have shops and offices legislation, but is there any covering these warehouse workers? If true, some of the stories reported in the media are quite horrendous.

    Reply Yes of course. Minimum wages, health and safety, reg of hours etc all applies to warehouse jobs as well

    • Lifelogic
      Posted April 20, 2018 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

      JR you list only scratches the surface of the endless and damaging c*** put in the way businesses by government at all levels.

  34. forthurst
    Posted April 20, 2018 at 10:27 am | Permalink

    Shops pay rates based on rateable value; the rateable value of a shop is based upon location and frontage. How is that then the shop with the largest ‘frontage’ and the most strategic ‘location’ pays no rates for that privilege? Why is it that the same company’s workers are not classified as shopworkers with the protections enjoyed by them? Why is it that the taxpayer pays in work benefits to people on rock bottom wages to service that businesses warehouses?

    What will fill the void left when each high street has a surfeit of coffee shops? Perhaps there is a need for a new charity shop chain which offers to spend more than ten percent of its income on ‘doing good’ and does not interpret that remit as smuggling (people ed)into Europe?

  35. Iain Gill
    Posted April 20, 2018 at 10:38 am | Permalink

    Its not just the internet, its also “charity” shops (many of which are run like big business in practise). The council tax perks, and other tax perks, they have been given have allowed them to undercut other businesses, which is why many second hand shops not claiming “charity” status have shut. I think these perks are silly, we would be better encouraging free enterprise with a level playing field, and giving tax perks to anyone contributing to charity at the point they contribute.

    As for internet shopping, the ability of the firms to claim to be operating from multiple tax jurisdictions outside the UK is a massive competitive advantage against any “bricks and mortar” shop forced to play by UK tax rules. This needs multi national thought and approach, dont think the UK can go it alone.

  36. Mick
    Posted April 20, 2018 at 10:50 am | Permalink

    https://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/948780/brexit-news-ireland-irish-border-leo-varadkar-northern-ireland
    I’m getting pretty fed up of the Irish and Eu and remoaners dictating to us , 17.4 million voted to leave like it or not it’s called democracy and it’s tough if you cannot come to terms with that, Mrs May should tell them enough is enough we are leaving now and you can go whistle for any money, and if the remoaners don’t like it then catch one of the transport links to your beloved Eu and go bye bye you’ll not be missed

    • Blake
      Posted April 20, 2018 at 8:01 pm | Permalink

      Tough Mick..some of us have been saying from the beginning that this whole thing would come unstuck on the border..but theres also the question of the free movement of people tjat has not been squared yet..theres no point in marking out the Irish as being difficult..they are only looking after their own..i’m afraid that it is we who are out of step in all of this..the EU will shortly call a halt to all of these talks and that will help to focus minds..we’ll have to get real to all of this..what is it wecare really after? a political score or an economical one..time to make our minds up

  37. Denis Cooper
    Posted April 20, 2018 at 11:15 am | Permalink

    JR, although I can understand that you don’t want to keep writing just about Brexit I think it really is time to sort out all this rubbish about the Irish border.

    I saw the editor of the New European on the Sky press review last night and he was openly cock-a-hoop that the EU had flatly rejected all the UK proposals – of course in his eyes the EU must be right about that and indeed right about everything – and just as somebody else said here earlier he claimed this to be an insoluble problem unless the UK stays in the EU Customs Union, and so we might as well stay in the EU after all.

    The government has no answer, probably because it is taking advice from civil servants who don’t want there to be an answer.

    I would make two brief points here.

    Firstly as I have repeatedly explained and Richard North explained here yesterday:

    http://www.eureferendum.com/blogview.aspx?blogno=86837

    and explains yet again here today:

    http://www.eureferendum.com/blogview.aspx?blogno=86838

    staying in a customs union with the EU would not solve the Irish border problem, insofar as the Irish border problem arises from the absurd extreme and intransigent refusal of the Irish government and its EU backers to contemplate any sort of checks or monitoring at all on the border, “anything that would imply a border on the island of Ireland”:

    http://johnredwoodsdiary.com/2018/03/14/one-cheer-for-the-obr/#comment-924987

    And secondly as I have explained before the way to avoid the need for any new checks on goods as they cross the border into the Irish Republic and so the wider EU is for the UK to enact and rigorously enforce new laws to control the export of goods across that border – and potentially other EU borders – and so prevent the export of goods which the EU would regard as illicit or unacceptable, let us say for example “chlorinated chicken”.

    At present there are no routine attempts to intercept and check goods as they cross the land border from Northern Ireland into the Irish Republic because the UK has passed domestic legislation to implement EU Single Market laws and the UK is trusted to enforce its legislation with sufficient rigour to render checks at the border unnecessary.

    Unless the EU perversely believes that we are no longer to be trusted then there is no reason why the same should not continue to apply after we have left the EU, but on the basis of new UK laws designed to secure the same practical end.

    As suggested previously an Export Controls (European Union) Act 2018 could provide the EU with the same legal reassurance as now that the UK would not permit any goods which the EU regarded as illicit, such as so-called “chlorinated chicken”, to be transported across the border into the Republic and so into the EU Single Market.

  38. TomTomTom
    Posted April 20, 2018 at 11:55 am | Permalink

    It’s retailers own fault. They ignored the internet and failed to invest for too long and are now complaining that Amazon has come along and eaten their lunch.

    They had lots of advantages over Amazon ( for it is the Big A we are really talking about ) such as brand name recognition and trust but collectively failed to capitalise on the changes coming, instead, telling themselves … people will never buy clothes online …. people will never buy white goods online. Wrong!

    Fundamentally shopping in a UK high street is an unrewarding, dull experience. The shops are all the same ( which ever town it is), selling stuff you don’t want at a marked up price.

    The stereotype of shopping used to be: The girl going around clothes shops, dragging her bored partner behind her.

    … and to make it worse you had to pay £4 to park, spend 30 minutes trying to find a parking space and they were not open at 11pm on a Sunday night when you actually felt like doing the shopping.

    Why would you do want to experience that against being able to quickly get what you want without having the hassle? You wouldn’t. And nobody would. That’s why the trend is to online and will continue so.

    Shopping is DULL. It is boring, really, really boring. The whole idea that we all loved shopping was an image created by retailers over decades.

    So we should let the shops close, convert them to “experiences” – entertainment and eateries. And places to live.

    Because although we do still love Stuff. We also like Doing. And we like doing things with our friends and families.

    If you want a thriving high-street, give me a reason to go there.

    Visiting a tired looking chain-branch is not a good enough reason.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted April 20, 2018 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

      Not that easy to compete with a loss making venture like amazon with the shareholders subsidising Customers purchases!

  39. Thames Trader
    Posted April 20, 2018 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

    Broadly speaking I believe that Internet shopping vs traditional shopping should be an area where the market decides. Unfortunately the situation is not evenly balanced.

    Town councils in particular have treated local businesses and their customers as cash cows and overtaxed them with business rates as well as, in many case, imposing excessive parking charges on their customers. This has discouraged shoppers and caused prices to be higher than they might have been. The result: parts of many town centres are full of empty shops.

    At the same time national tax policy has created a situation where the likes of Amazon can legally avoid tax. The tax rules need changing. In particular the absurd situation where large businesses can avoid tax by paying huge sums to parent companies abroad for the use of their intellectual property has to be changed.

  40. Simon Platt
    Posted April 20, 2018 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

    “I am inviting contributors to say what they think should be done, if anything”

    It’s not easy, but something does need to be done. Our towns are being hollowed out, and the people in charge, especially town councillors, don’t seem to care. Rather, they’re making things worse, with out-of-town developments. Where I live there is significant public investment in something called a “city deal”, which is great for property developers and civil engineers but doesn’t seem to be much of a good deal for the city. That kind of thing should probably be stopped.

    There are some obvious things: you mention car parking charges; and UKIP locally is campaigning for our local council to offer free short-term parking in the town centre car parks it runs. The answer to the question “Why do some large shopping centres attract more footfall than High Streets?” is, to a large extent and fairly obviously, car parking charges.

    One of the things we need to do to reinvigorate our town centres is to recognise the problems caused by cars, and show some mettle in dealing with them, some how. For example, a shopping centre quite near me attracts a great deal of traffic (even as town centre and suburban shops close left, right and centre), causing considerable traffic jams on an important through route. There’s a cost there, and I’m not confident that the people causing the problem are paying adequately. It ought to be possible somehow to deal with this, for example ecouraging public transport, which also seems to be dying.

    Other places manage things like this much better – some places I have visited on the continent, for example. We should have the humility to learn from them.

    • Monty
      Posted April 20, 2018 at 8:06 pm | Permalink

      This obsession with trying to force the public out of their cars and onto buses is a complete anachronism, and disastrous for commerce. Look at the shops that are still doing well, and look at what they are selling. Tubs of masonry paint, telescopic loft ladders, dog kennels, chests of drawers made of sturdy plastic, bumper sacks of birdseed for our garden birds, rolls of wallpaper, minute mops for the kitchen floor, microwave ovens, pedal bins. People ARE spending, they have the cash and they know what they want and they need to transport themselves and their loot in the car. Even food shopping alone, folk buy a whole multipack of 2 litre pop bottles. If you call in at Lidls tomorrow you can get a carload of foods plus a hammer action drill with attachments. A few weeks ago it was an overlocking sewing machine, excellent, I bought one. These outlets are making it easy for their customers to do business with them, that’s why they are still in business.

  41. lojolondon
    Posted April 20, 2018 at 3:11 pm | Permalink

    This raises a very important point, not mentioned by any REMAINder – when the UK leaves the EU, large enterprises will no longer be able to pay taxes in Luxembourg or Lichtenstein on revenues raised locally. I look forward to a massive bumper windfall, as all these multinationals begin to pay their taxes locally into the Chancellor of the Exchequer, or get ready to explain in depth their international transfer rates.

  42. mancunius
    Posted April 20, 2018 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

    What do businesses actually see in return for their business rates?
    A few more refuse collections. A pothole in the road occasionally mended. A police voice on the phone taking down details of a robbery.
    And they also get all the libraries, schools and social and ‘care’ and ‘recreational’ services their business neither uses nor benefits from.
    Sometmes it seems retailers are charged for just being there, creating and maintaining retail services for the local people, and for daring to employ staff and pay NIC.
    Or is it just because they can be more easily shaken down than all the ‘users’ of the council services? Until the burden is too great, and they go bust.
    Doesn’t look very fair to me, and I’m just a consumer.
    When did we start to accept that councils have rights without equal responsibilities? How many retailers – I suspec t quite a few – earn less in annual profit than the (tax-free) ‘expenses’ of a councillor pulling in 30K or more a year?

    Reply bUsinesses usually have to pay for a commercial refuse service

    • libertarian
      Posted April 20, 2018 at 4:27 pm | Permalink

      mancunius

      I pay £60k per annum in Business rates.

      I pay extra to have my bins emptied

      I pay extra to have street flower baskets and lights at Christmas

      I pay through the nose to park my car near my place of work

      What pothole mending?

      The police have never attended my premises in the 5 times we’ve been broken into, they give me a crime number and tell me to claim off my insurance

      Despite the vast amount of “local” tax I pay I also dont get a vote

      Business Rates are an outrage

      The only levy that should be charged is on politicians and their hangers on

      • Edward2
        Posted April 21, 2018 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

        Totally agree LL

    • Lifelogic
      Posted April 20, 2018 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

      What do taxes payers in general get for the 46% largely wasted by government? The dire Nhs, dire roads, bog standard schools, lots of people paid not to work, loads of worthless degrees, expensive greencrap energy, appalling defence procurement, gesture bombing of syria, loads over over paid and pensioned people like the ex Cabinet secretaries…..

    • mancunius
      Posted April 20, 2018 at 5:45 pm | Permalink

      Reply to reply – That makes their council rate demands look even more like highway robbery! I really don’t know how any high street retailer survives.

  43. Bill Stokes
    Posted April 20, 2018 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

    I’d make the following comments

    1. It is not the business of government to favour one business model over another. If online works better then it works better and we should just recognise that.

    2. There is a problem is tax avoidance by companies operating in the UK but being legally domiciled abroad (think (named co ed) and Luxembourg). I would propose the following change to the law on customs duties.

    When a consumer buys goods abroad they should continue to benefit from exemption from Customs duties that already exist. However, they should lose them if the main purpose of their trip abroad was to make the purchase.

    So if I go to ( internet company ed)which is in Luxembourg) to buy some goods I am treated as if It am importing the goods from Luxembourg (which I am). But sine my only purpose in visiting Luxembourg was to buy goods then I do not benefit from any customs exemptions.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted April 20, 2018 at 5:03 pm | Permalink

      Well if we get out of the EU we can then get a sensible tax system. First indo the idiocies of Osborne and Hammond we can do that now and then those of the EU!

      But socialist dope May is never going to do anything sensible is she?

  44. Andy
    Posted April 20, 2018 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

    On another matter – today it’s 50 years since Enoch Powell’s “rivers of blood” speech. A good opportunity to review his claims, language and legacy.

    Mr Powell’s speech is available to read online. It is very ‘of its time’ – and has not aged well.

    In two separate parts of it he spoke of his fears for Britain in 1985 and 2000 as a result of immigration.

    Having lived thorough firstly 1985 as a 12-year-old and then 2000 as a 27-year-old I am happy to report that Powell was 100% wrong. There were no rivers blood. There are no rivers of blood. There will be no rivers of blood.

    Instead Britain is a largely peaceful, multi-cultural country where virtually nobody born since the 1970s cares about anyone else’s skin colour, religion or background.

    It was not always thus. My father – a baby boomer born weeks after WW2 ended – was, in the 1970s, basically a full on racist (by today’s much higher standards).

    Had he lived into this century I am sure my dad would have mellowed, as many of his generation have. The Windrush scandal spells the final defeat of this outdated Powellite view.

    I was recently much heartened by my 6-year-old son who wanted to introduce me to a new friend who was stood in a group of other boys. When I asked my son which one was his new friend he said ‘the one in the green coat.’

    The new friend in question turned out to be a very short, very fat little boy of Indian background who was wearing a turban. On all of these counts he was very different to the other kids – but to my son the only difference that mattered was the coat.

    That’s what we need to celebrate 50 years on – that kids don’t care about skin colour or religion.

    50 years on the bigoted Enoch Powell was demonstrably wrong and it’s time this irrelevant dinosaur was stuffed into the bowels of irrelevant history where he truly belongs.

  45. libertarian
    Posted April 20, 2018 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

    The reason there are NO , none, zero, zilch EU high tech digital businesses is precisely because of this luddite backward thinking . No wonder the average remainer wants to stay, they love living in the past .

    Oh and internet companies DO pay property taxes, what do you think their offices and warehouses consist of ? Oh and if theres a levy on internet companies, how about hight street retailers that dont have fleets of delivery vans and the high fuel duty to contend with

    Probably the dumbest thing I’ve seen for a long time

  46. Andy
    Posted April 20, 2018 at 5:23 pm | Permalink

    One important point to consider on the post-Brexit border with Ireland.

    Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha. Told you so. Your mess Brexiteers. You’re gonna own it.

    2022 wipeout. Bye bye Tories, bye bye.

  47. Laurel
    Posted April 20, 2018 at 5:41 pm | Permalink

    So we see the Royal Family can appoint people to jobs just the same as the EU..

  48. Ken Moore
    Posted April 20, 2018 at 5:45 pm | Permalink

    We are at peak complacency. The figures are plain – economic growth is being faked by your government and others by borrowing and printing money. We are seeing the first signs that this charade is starting to fall apart.

    We have seen declines in car sales, retail, restaurant closures. Soon these will spread to hotel bookings and other non discretionary activities as the Ponzi scheme starts to fall apart.

    Real prosperity is declining despite rising GDP. Brexit. Trump, and results in Germany are a reaction to what has been happening. The elites sneer at the ‘populists’ but it is the unpopulist elites detached from reality that have brought about the mess we are in.

  49. Philip Brandon
    Posted April 20, 2018 at 7:05 pm | Permalink

    I buy online because City Councils make it too difficult to drive into town with their anti car high price parking stance. In France it says “free parking” in many towns and you see the shops are still there.

  50. Edwardm
    Posted April 20, 2018 at 7:59 pm | Permalink

    All business needs to be treated equally. If a turnover tax is chosen, then it should apply to all businesses and business rates abolished. However we already have VAT, so I would have thought that abolishing business rates but with a higher VAT rate be preferable to yet another tax, such as turnover tax.
    For most businesses, VAT has the merit that it is only collected on the mark-up in price and is proportional, and is better than a fixed overhead.
    With Brexit, taxes on transactions made in the UK should all be collectable by our own government.

  51. Ron Olden
    Posted April 20, 2018 at 9:15 pm | Permalink

    Further to my earlier observations it might also be an idea to exempt retailers employing fewer than 10 or 20 people from the National Living Wage.

    Who among us wouldn’t much rather settle for the National Minimum Wage, in exchange for working in a job near where we live?

    Having a job near where we live is much better for us financially and we can have more flexible hours and spend less time travelling.

    It’s better for us and for the local community, than to see our employer shut down altogether, and be left with no job, or have to pay to travel many miles, and expend unpaid time to go to one.

    It’s mind boggling that state thinks it unacceptable for us to work for £7 an hour in a job we like, at the end of the street where we live, but finds it perfectly acceptable for us to work for nothing in charity shop which is no more than a commercial enterprise in disguise.

  52. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted April 21, 2018 at 12:36 am | Permalink

    At the moment, high business rates are charged for shops on the high street. These could be reduced and offset by charging rates on warehouse premises. That would level things up a bit. As things stand, shopping malls have become places for social gatherings. The shops are doing poorly but the coffee shops are thriving.

  53. Richard
    Posted April 21, 2018 at 9:47 pm | Permalink

    Town centre high streets and shopping malls have provide a social cohesion benefit (council organised events, meet-ups, chance meetings etc). Therefore the tax regime should favour the town centre over the internet.
    Particularly regressive is the way that some (particularly Labour) councils have seen aggressive parking fees & fines as an easy cash cow, ignoring the destructive effect on local businesses. I agree with above comments that all ‘profit’ from council parking fines should go to the Treasury.

  54. Alison
    Posted April 22, 2018 at 6:12 am | Permalink

    Restraining self, briefly: I have just spent a week working there, having worked there some 30 years ago. Now there is a simply massive amount of construction of very large business areas – big business buildings, and not in the centre of Luxembourg but all around. Huge. The scale of construction of glossy buildings is almost on a scale of that in the Emirates a few years ago. There are several big new schools buildings. With the tax that should have been paid in the UK, we could have updated and repaired not a few schools.
    Readers will also be reassured to know that the European Stability Mechanism has its own building.

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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