A new tax on goods sold online is being considered by the chancellor in a bid to save the high street post-coronavirus, Downing Street has revealed.
<p>It could be a 2% levy on online sales, which would raise £2bn a year, or a charge on deliveries, as part of a campaign to cut congestion and emissions.</p><p>The move comes after <a href="https://news.sky.com/topic/rishi-sunak-8527" target="_blank"><strong>Rishi Sunak</strong></a> highlighted concerns that business rates are effectively penalising high street stores and giving internet retailers an unfair advantage.</p><p>"Last week, as we set out in the budget and manifesto, we published a call for evidence to look into all aspects of the business rates system," the prime minister's spokesman said.</p><p>"And as part of this we will consider the case for introducing alternative taxes as part of the review, including an online sales tax.</p><p>"The pandemic has had a significant impact on how business is done and the effect of this will become clearer over time.</p><p>"We'll continue to support businesses as far as possible, but we must also ensure that the tax system raises sufficient revenue to fund our vital public services."</p><p>In its consultation document, the Treasury said: "Some commentators argue that the business rates system creates a distortion within the retail sector, favouring online retailers that can operate without the high-value properties that are a feature of more traditional retail.</p><p>"This has led to proposals that the government should levy a tax on companies based on their online sales, and that this could be used to fund business rates reductions for retail properties."</p> <p>The online sales tax idea coincides with recommendations for restarting the economy after COVID-19 from a group of Tory backbenchers, mostly Remainers, calling themselves "moderate Conservative MPs".</p><p>In a report from the "One Nation Caucus", the MPs call for "a relentless focus on the government's levelling-up agenda, in order to get the economy moving across the whole country".</p><p>Proposals include creating new Economic Development Zones to drive growth, expanding the number of planned Freeports, and creating technology adoption funds to support the Fourth Industrial Revolution.</p><p>The report also suggests a number of policies to protect people on low incomes, including a new consumer right to prevent loyalty penalties, and proposals for managing repayments of COVID business loans, recommending an approach similar to the Student Loan scheme.</p><p>"The chancellor is doing a tremendous job of steering our economy through these difficult times," said the author, ex-minister Stephen Hammond, who was one of 21 pro-Remain MPs who lost the Tory whip last year.</p> <p><strong>:: Listen to Sophy Ridge on Sunday on <a href="https://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/sophy-ridge-on-sunday/id1201909139?mt=2" target="_blank">Apple Podcasts</a>, <a href="https://www.google.com/podcasts?feed=aHR0cHM6Ly9hdWRpb2Jvb20uY29tL2NoYW5uZWxzLzQ5MDI2NzIucnNz" target="_blank">Google Podcasts</a>, <a href="https://open.spotify.com/show/3XkMvSBWMps5qqDjTLbazo" target="_blank">Spotify</a>, <a href="https://www.spreaker.com/show/sophy-ridge-on-sunday" target="_blank">Spreaker</a></strong></p><p>"But if we are to safeguard our recovery, more action will be needed to drive growth across the whole country.</p><p>"Our new report sets out a number of 'oven-ready' One Nation proposals to double down on levelling up and driving growth, which we hope they will consider at the forthcoming autumn budget."</p><p>Other MPs contributing to the report are ex-ministers Philip Dunne and John Penrose and backbenchers John Stevenson, Alan Mak and Julie Marson.</p><p>Damian Green, former first secretary of state and chair of the One Nation Caucus, added: "Levelling up in this country and re-setting our international relations in the post-Brexit era are two huge tasks and moderate Conservatives want to help the prime minister succeed in both."</p>