MPs Warn High Street is Coming Like a Ghost Town

By Gary Cutlack on at

A group of MPs who submit expenses for attending meetings under the brand of the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee have warned again on the state of the UK high street, and have, yet again, said what we really need is more in online sales taxes to hit the digital sellers and reinvest the takings in rates cuts for bricks & mortar trades.

The committee says the decline of the high street is likely to continue and leave town centres even more barren by the year 2030 than they currently are, with one possible salvation of the old fashioned market streets being to redesign them to turn them from pure shopping destinations into "activity-based community gathering places," because you can't sit outside and eat a sausage roll when all your shopping arrives at your door in boxes.

This would of course need much more money than is already set aside in the government's existing £675 million Future High Streets Fund, as £675 million would barely pay for St Austell to be knocked down and rebuilt a couple of times.

No, the money to rework the high streets should come from a completely reworked business taxation regime, the committee says, one that would include a wide range of new taxes of online businesses, including a standard sales tax, a higher rate of VAT, and additional environmental taxes on deliveries and packaging. Spend all that money on redeveloping St Austell and it might be worth a visit. [HCLG via BBC]