Television property presenter Kirstie Allsopp has joined the call for action on business rates, claiming a cut would help tens of thousands of independent shops that play a vital role in their local community.
Speaking to The Daily Telegraph, Ms Allsopp said there was a “definite argument” for rates being looked at despite the obvious need for the Government to cut the deficit.
The presenter, famed for Location, Location, Location, said: “I would like to see a cut, or at least a freeze. I’m always very careful as it’s very easy to view the problem just from the perspective of the high street shop. But so often when I travel around, I see small independent shops, that benefit the local community, there must be an argument for a rate reduction.”
The Daily Telegraph launched a “Fix The Rates” campaign on Tuesday, calling for a rates freeze for two years. The tax is due to go up by another 3.2 per cent in April, adding another £240 million to retailers’ annual operating costs.
Ms Allsopp was speaking as research from American Express and Conlumino, the retail consultants, revealed the value of a thriving high street to the property market in the local community.
On average, high streets with thriving small, independent businesses have added £40,000 to nearby house prices in the past decade. Conlumino said the rise in these areas was 17 per cent higher than growth in similar towns with proportionately fewer independent traders.
The report, released ahead of ‘Small Business Saturday’ on December 7, highlighted Whitstable in Kent, Marlborough, Wiltshire and Totnes, Devon among the high street “hot spots”. Ms Allsopp insisted she was not as gloomy on the future of the high street as others.
She said: “I find it so disappointing that we have seen a large decline in independent shops, such as toy stores. But I’m more optimistic, I really don’t see it as a do or die moment, we are doing.”