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Tue, May 28, 2024


Taxing Times: High Streets at a Crossroads

When we gauge the health of our economy, it's often through the lens of our wallets and the vibrancy of our local high streets. Unfortunately, both are currently taking a heavy beating, and this may not bode well for the political future of the Tories. The economic assault, particularly fiscal drag, has eroded the value of wage increases for all income levels, while leaving many with comically high marginal tax rates. Meanwhile, our beloved high streets are grappling with a daunting new competitive landscape.

The looming increase in business rates promises to exacerbate the challenges faced by our high streets, especially in major cities like London's West End, where the so-called "tourist tax" is already a burden. Adding to the misery is the government's failure to modernize the rates system adequately for the 21st century. Warehouse-based retailers continue to enjoy an unfair advantage over their city-center counterparts. This imbalance is not only a lack of leadership but also a short-sighted approach. It's not about preserving outdated industries; rather, it's about leveling the playing field.

High streets hold immense importance, not just in sprawling cities like London but also in smaller towns and villages. Several years ago, we hoped that the success of "levelling up" would be evident in thriving high streets pushing against the tide of change. Unfortunately, the reality today paints a different picture: more charity shops and vacant storefronts than ever. Innovative solutions are scarce, and our tax system has only grown more punitive. It's time for a change that revitalizes our high streets, fosters innovation, and encourages urban vibrancy for generations to come.



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