Market towns need level playing field with Amazon and online retail – The Yorkshire Post says

THE Yorkshire Post’s call for Chancellor Rishi Sunak to deliver a Budget for the North this week is reiterated by Bank of England deputy governor Dave Ramsden’s confidence in the region.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak during a walkabout in Northallerton last June. Photo: James Hardisty.

He cites the shift to green energy and renewables as opportunities for growth – and it is to be hoped that the Chancellor, and also local leaders, utilise the expertise that already exists here.

After all, Britain’s economy was beginning to evolve before Covid struck. Now Mr Sunak’s challenge is to facilitate a strong recovery and – when the time is right – easing back on myriad support schemes.

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But it is also significant that Mr Ramsden, an economist steeped in finance, has identified the resilience of Yorkshire’s market towns, each with their own special features, as another positive.

Will Chancellor rishi Sunak act to support market towns in this week's Budget? Photo: James Hardisty.

Contrary to the fears of many retailers at the start of this pandemic, there is now a more discernible appreciation about such towns and a desire on the part of many people to shop – and support – local stores and businesses.

Those shops that have innovated during the various lockdowns, and Government-imposed restrictions, have, in many cases, been pleasantly surprised by the level of goodwill. This, in turn, appears to explain Mr Sunak’s desire to set up a new £5bn fund to help pubs, restaurants, shops and other businesses to reopen in the coming weeks.

He knows from past visits to towns like Northallerton in his rural North Yorkshire constituency that the performance of market towns, and local high streets, is a barometer of the wider national economy.

Yet, while these new grants are welcome, they’re a stop-gap measure because business rates and existing tax arrangements favour online suppliers over traditional local shops. As such, this Budget is chance for Mr Sunak to begin to create a more level playing field between these two widely differing retail spheres. He should take it.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak during a visit to Barkers department store in Northallerton last June. Photo: James Hardisty.

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