Supermarket tax set to be rejected

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Proposals for a new ‘supermarket tax’ in Leeds – which initial studies suggested could generate £7.2m to help support district shopping centres – are set to be rejected by councillors on Wednesday because they fear it could end up driving retailers to go elsewhere.

Leeds City Council’s executive board will discuss the idea of a Supermarket Levy, on stores with a rateable value of more than £500,000, at their meeting on Wednesday.

The idea has been put forward by national lobbying group Local Works, a coalition of more than 100 national organisations which is campaigning to promote the use of the new Sustainable Communities Act. Campaigners say any money raised can be used to support struggling local town and district shopping centres.

However, a report to be presented to councillors, although acknowledging that “the potential sums generated by the levy are considerable”, says that introducing such a tax would be “too blunt a tool”. Supermarkets currently employ an estimated 10,000 people in the city.

The report says: “The rise of out-of-centre superstores has had an overwhelmingly negative impact on our town centres. The levy is an opportunity to invest more money into our centres and could be a crucial factor in breathing life back into our towns. However supermarkets are not the only factor in town centre decline.”